Have You Read Any Good Books Lately?

So, I’m going to start this post by making an embarrassing and uncomfortable admission. I’m not a TV-watcher; we don’t even have a TV in the house (that’s not the embarrassing part). However, because W essentially insists that I go to bed when she does and lie there nursing her on and off for the 2 or so hours until she falls deeply asleep, I find myself looking for things I can do lying on my side. There are lots of good things I could do. I could do research for my next SquintMom. I could get caught up on emails. I could read a book. But typically, I do none of these things. Typically (here’s the embarrassing part), I watch TV shows on my computer. I have Netflix, and furthermore, I recently learned that ABC puts episodes of their current shows online. I’ve discovered shows that I’m pretty sure everyone else has known about for years, but they’re new to me…like Grey’s Anatomy, and Private Practice, and The Bachelor (it really hurts to admit to watching that last one). And to be honest, my TV-watching is Driving. Me. Nuts. It wouldn’t bother me to watch it once in a while, but for several hours a night…I hate how much time I’m wasting.

So why do I do it?

Well, at the end of the day, I’ve spent 16-or-so odd hours dealing with a teething toddler, have answered dozens and dozens of student emails, have done research for my science writing and/or SquintMom, have read the latest releases from science blogs, medical journals, etc, etc, etc. I’m pretty tired. Note: this does not make me special. I’m a mom. We’re all tired at the end of the day. I’m just saying that, like so many of us, I’m no longer functioning on all cylinders by 8 pm. Anyway, I’m pretty tired, and I really don’t want to do any more work. I’d have no trouble, however, relaxing with an interesting book. Unfortunately, I’ve been burned a few too many times in the last year with poor choices of reading material (for anyone who’s curious, Steven Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature is nearly as long as War and Peace, but not nearly as satisfying. Oh, and it takes some real liberties with data interpretation. And it’s expensive. You really let me down on this one, Science Friday. Not that I’m resentful.) Anyway, the only thing I’m more resentful of than wasting time reading a book that ultimately sucks is buying an ultimately sucky book on Kindle (which then means I can’t trade it in). And for this reason, I find myself turning more than I should to instant TV. But I want to change.

To that end, I want to start a discussion about good books (on any topic you like…science, parenting, novel, or whatever). If you’ve read a great book lately — one that you think is worth reading — please post the author, title, a very brief description, and a sentence or two on why you thought it was so fabulous in the comments. Together, we can avoid sucky reading material.

Oh, and if you see a post someone else has made about a book and you agree, say so. If you totally disagree, say that too (we all have different opinions, and that’s fine)…but be nice about it, ok?

I’ll start us off. I highly, HIGHLY recommend Harvey Karp’s Happiest Toddler On The Block. It’s basically about how to communicate with a 1-4 year old, including how to promote good behavior and avoid tantrums. I thought it was well supported and was easy to read, without being condescending. It also included lots of insight into the developing toddler brain, and common sense communication tips.


What good book(s) have you read lately?



11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. SquintMom
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 16:45:08

    As part of my resolution to stop watching so much TV, I picked up Sean Carroll’s book “From Eternity to Here,” which is a sort of overarching look at the nature of the universe and of time. I’m only a short way in so far, but it’s VERY readable for non-physicists, and VERY interesting. I’ll keep you all posted.


  2. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 20:22:47

    Okay, this is totally not educational but is purely for pleasure–I thoroughly enjoyed reading Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I bought the book for my husband for Christmas, and we both finished it in less than 48 hrs. It is about a world where children from each district are sent to the capitol to fight in a fantasy world until only one is alive. Seems harsh, but it is well-written. It has enough real-life stuff to be believable and a splash of fantasy to keep it interesting. I’m on the second book, Catching Fire, now and highly recommend it as well. I’m looking forward to reading the third in the series, Mockingjay.


    • Olivia
      Feb 01, 2012 @ 06:40:17

      I devoured this series last summer. I really enjoyed the strong female lead and it does read quickly.


  3. Alice Callahan (@scienceofmom)
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 21:05:47

    I just read Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. I highly recommend it. It is a fascinating look at child development, and if you are science-minded at all, you will appreciate the in-depth look at the research in this area.

    PS – Gosh, I wish I had more time to read. My nightstand is stacked with books that I am reading two pages at a time. I spend too much time online reading 800 word articles these days. A good book is different, isn’t it?!


  4. Candace
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 22:19:24

    The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean. GREAT book on the history behind the periodic table, if you get the Kindle version have a periodic table handy. Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn, great book on democratic parenting.


  5. SquintMom
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 16:29:50

    Anybody read Peggy Orenstein’s “Cinderella Ate My Daughter”? Any feedback?


    • Alice Callahan (@scienceofmom)
      Feb 01, 2012 @ 05:27:51

      Yes! I read it when BabyC was just a few months old. I liked it, though I did find it a little tiresome by the end and I was left feeling a little helpless about raising a daughter with all of the influences that we have so little control over. Still worth a read, even if you just pick and choose a few chapters that look most interesting to you.


  6. Ariane
    Jan 30, 2012 @ 18:56:59

    Great post! I have enjoyed:

    Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. Appreciate her honesty and unusual views on motherhood.

    The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Motivated me to make some small changes in how I do all kinds of everyday things.

    To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Idk how I got through school without being assigned this and that is a damn shame! But I am rectifying that.

    One Day by Nicholls (I think). Mostly good. Loved the opening and it ended well but the first third dragged some.

    Insurrection by Peter Rollins. Wonderful theology philosophy stuff that blows my mind…hard to read when tired, though 🙂

    Anything by Michael Pollan.

    I think that’s it for now. I actually get most of my reading done via audiobook now that I’m a mom.


    • SquintMom
      Jan 30, 2012 @ 19:45:28

      I’ve heard good things about that one (Bad Mother). I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for all the suggestions!


  7. Alice Callahan (@scienceofmom)
    Feb 01, 2012 @ 05:40:06

    And one more – Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies by Jena Pincott. Shameless promotion for the review and giveaway on my blog. It is full of lots of cool and fun science about pregnancy, birth, and parenting. http://scienceofmom.com/2012/01/31/do-chocolate-lovers-have-sweeter-babies-a-review-and-a-giveaway/


  8. Arabella Smith
    Dec 03, 2013 @ 02:15:34

    I just finished reading Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy. As a single mum I couldn’t stop laughing and relating to all the booboos that Bridget is facing. I see myself in her (though I am not as adventurous as her) and I applaud Fielding for nailing all the jokes. I love this book a lot! http://www.bookworld.com.au/book/bridget-jones-mad-about-the-boy/39620786/


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