Friday Reads

I am so excited for the weekend because my to-be read pile is growing, and since I’ve checked all of these titles out from various libraries and I’m fastidious about turning them back in on time (no renewals allowed on any of the titles I’ve checked out!), I have a lot of pages to read.

First up: Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson. I’ve never read anything by this greatly esteemed author, but I’ve heard from lots of people that she’s a favorite author of theirs, and this book fits the bill for one of my reading challenge categories: published in the year I was born.

Second: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I’ve never read a comic book from cover to cover, so I’m excited to branch out and read this, especially since it was recommended on my favorite podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour.

Third: The Wang’s vs. The World. I’m a huge fan of Chinese immigrant and Chinese-American stories (side note: did you know Kevin Kwan’s next book, Rich People Problems, is coming out this May?!? I’m so excited!!) and this is a comedic take on a rich Chinese-American family’s downfall during the recession.

Fourth: Exit West. This new novel is getting rave reviews and I’m very interested in the timely subject matter in light of Trump’s latest travel ban. The NYT calls it “a dystopian parable about the current refugee crisis.” Anyone else want to read it for a virtual book club?

Happy Friday!

 

Books & Podcast Recommendations for the Easily Distracted Parent

In the six years since I first became a parent, I’ve discovered that my attention span is exactly the length of two Paw Patrol episodes. But due to a recent surgery, a broken wrist and seven (yes, count them: SEVEN) weeks of suffering through various head colds and the flu, I found a newly redeveloped talent: the ability to sit still and pay attention to printed words. However, I realize that not every parent has the luxury of sitting on their couch for hours on end, so the following recommendations can be enjoyed in snippets, too!

Books:

Act Like It When I received the iBooks email with the phrase “free books” in it, I didn’t know I was going down a rabbit hole of romance novels, but this book is well-written and a good read, which I discovered after two shout-outs, one on Book Riot and one on my favorite podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour. After reading this, I’ve read a lot of BAD romance novels and I’ll tell you, this one is rare: good, an interesting plot with real-life characters. Trust me.

Dumplin’ If you enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, you will like this book. It’s YA fiction at its best: it doesn’t insult your intelligence and portrays teenage characters in a realistic way.

Hag-Seed Totally and completely different than the previous two recommendations, this is a highly entertaining book by Margaret Atwood. It’s her reinterpretation of The Tempest and you don’t have to remember the original (or even have read) to enjoy it.

We Live in Water I don’t usually enjoy short story collections, but this one by Jess Walter is so, so good. The first story is probably my favorite – it’s gut-punching, magnificent writing and the PWN is lucky to have such a talented writer.

And if you’re not in the mood for books right now, here are a few podcasts I’ve been enjoying lately:

Podcasts:

Crimetown Go behind the scenes of organized crime in Providence, Rhode Island, with this fascinating look at a larger-than-life mayor and the mob. After each episode, you’ll marvel that this is a true story.

Missing Richard Simmons I didn’t even know Richard Simmons was missing, but that doesn’t matter. Why did he disappear? Why haven’t his closest friends heard from him? And will the mystery be solved by the end of the season? I need answers. NOW.

I Highly Recommend 

Time is short when you have two kids, a full time job, spend at least 2 hours in the car every day and a husband you love dearly. So. Anyway. Here are some short blurbs about things I’ve loved recently.

Books

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Life changing. No, I really mean it. If you have too much stuff in your life, read this book. It will make you rethink everything you’ve been holding on to for so long.

Eat to Live
While I’m not sure I can sustain a lifestyle change like this permanently, I am trying to incorporate more clean eating in my life. This book has good recipes and a philosophy about healthy eating I can get behind.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
The baby sleep bible, re-reading this book made me rethink how many times I’ve disrupted Junior’s sleep to run errands. Babies need sleep! I’m so much better about letting him nap well and sleep early after reviewing this advice.

Emma
I love Alexander McCall Smith and this retelling of a Jane Austen favorite is delightful.

Yes Please
If you can, get the audiobook version of this book. Prepare to laugh and cry.


TV Shows

Veep
After signing up for a free trial of HBO Now, we’ve been binge watching the first three seasons. So, so funny.

Recipes

In my effort to eat more vegetables and reduce the amount of dairy I eat, I’ve had to be creative with quick meals at supper.

Here are three recent favorites:

Baked polenta with sautéed veggies. I sautéed onions, squash, and mushrooms and then added peas to the pan, then poured the vegetable mixture over sliced polenta and then added tomato sauce. I admit to adding a bit of shredded mozzarella cheese, too. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.

Curry udon. Make the curry as instructed on the box, then add udon noodles. I added a bit more water than the recipe called for so it would be more of a soup than a thick curry.

Lettuce wraps. I sautéed tofu with mushrooms and then added water chestnuts and soy sauce. Serve with lettuce cups.

What’s on Baby’s Bookshelf?

My kindly coworkers asked if I needed anything in particular for baby #2. Besides the Ergo baby carrier that I’m still coveting, my number one pick is books!

I asked my well-read group of friends what books are on their must-read list for babies and toddlers and they responded with the following titles.

And favorite children’s’ book authors include Sandra Bonynton, Richard Scarry, Mo Willems, and Oliver Jeffers.

I would add Little Blue Truck, Ferdinand, Chu’s Day, A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, Llama Llama Time to Share, and If Jesus Came to My House. 

What books are on your top 10 list for babies and/or toddlers? 

What Should I Read Next?

GoodReads

Reading List, 2014

I set my GoodReads reading goal to 36 books this year, before I found out I was pregnant. Now my goal is to finish 36 books before baby arrives and I’m 14 books in to finishing my goal. Why must I finish before baby arrives? Well, let’s just say reading and nursing at the same time was very difficult for me the first time around, although I did manage to read Cutting for Stone (and it’s a LONG book) on my iPhone during feedings. So maybe there’s hope after all for my literacy well being.

I’ve read a lot of Young Adult fiction this year. After reading the heartbreaking The Fault in Our Stars, I took a hiatus from John Green but then read his other books in quick succession. None were as good as TFIOS, but all were enjoyable. And I kept wishing books like this existed when I was growing up. I also found mention of A.S. King’s Reality Boy on a book blog, and immediately downloaded it to listen to on my commute. Even though it’s YA, it was amazing. So, so good.

At some point, I will review some of my other recent reads, but I will quickly say this: read the Veronica Mars novel after you watch the movie, and prepare to have your socks knocked off!

Right now, I’m reading The Goldfinch, which is really good (and sad!) but very dense and it’s going to take me a while to finish. So in addition to this lunchtime read, I want to add something lighter to bedtime reading. Oh, and audiobooks. I need suggestions as everything I want to listen to is already checked out from the library.

What’s the best thing you’ve read lately? Is the rest of the Divergent series worth reading? Because let’s be real, it’s no Hunger Games!

I’m Reading a Book

Last night, we were all exhausted but I really wanted potato salad. So while the eggs boiled and the potatoes cooked, Future President watched Chuggington (side note: I didn’t think a train show more annoying than Thomas could exist, yet there it is!), I played Candy Crush and my husband read a book.

“What are you doing, Daddy?” Future President asked, because normally the appearance of an iPad means YouTube videos of model trains. “I’m reading a book,” replied my husband. Future President expected the lion and the horse at the top of the page to start moving when he touched them, but other than that, he took the response in stride. To him, it’s perfectly normal for everything to be stored in a small object like an iPad. He will never know a time when reading books required possessing the physical object. And while our preference is to read physical books to him, it’s entirely possible that by the time he is reading himself, he will prefer eBooks. 

When I read that Encyclopaedia Britannica was ceasing publication of its print edition, it made me a little sad. Sad that my son will likely never retreat to the library to read those brief entries about anything from armadillos to the Trans-Siberian Railway or have to fill in worksheets at school based on library reference assignments that teach kids how to use a dictionary or an encyclopedia and a table of contents and an index. To me, this is a huge loss because of the lack of understanding at how information is organized. Maybe it’s because I’m a librarian that I wax nostalgic at this loss or because when practicing law, it is integral to the understanding of statutory language that a researcher understand how laws are organized and relate to each other. Merely Googling something gives a reader zero context, and while Wikipedia has linked articles from entries, it just isn’t the same thing. 

I am usually one to love technological advances, and while I’m excited to see how my son will be studying literature and math and science – will he still use textbooks? take notes on a tablet and store them in the cloud? – I am sad too, because I love print and the education that comes from simply picking up a book and flipping through it. 

Free Music, Free Books, Free Magazines!

If you haven’t been to your local public library lately, or checked out your library’s website, chances are you’re missing out on wonderful FREE things, like music and books.

The reason I mention free music is because my public library subscribes to Freegal Music, which allows me to download up to three songs per week for free! And they have a decent selection of new music, including The Civil Wars‘ newest release! So over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be able to download their entire album. It’s so amazing. 

My other two favorite library services (besides story time, of course) are OneClick Digital and OverDrive. OneClick Digital provides audiobooks. Right now I’m listening to Kelly Oxford’s memoir, “Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar.” OverDrive provides ebooks. My problem with ebooks is the amount of holds on popular titles. It’s been faster for me to check out the physical copy of popular titles than wait for the ebook. But it’s still a great product from the library (even if the interface needs a serious upgrade!). 

The newest e-product I’ve just started using is Zinio, which provides access to digital versions of popular magazines. For me, there’s nothing that can replicate the feeling of the glossy pages in my hands whiles I sip my iced tea outside on a warm summer day, but this is definitely cheaper than magazines subscriptions. And this way, no one will know you’re reading Cosmo. *wink*

What’s your favorite public library service?