I’m throwing clothes in bags and packing up the sunscreen to leave for vacation on Friday, but always, always, always leaving room for the books. (My parents will shake their heads over memories of me lugging two 50-pound bags of books to the mini van as sustenance for our summer vacations.) I’m thinking you too might be ready to update your summer reading list. Let me share the current tomes taking up real estate on my night stand along with a few online gems that I’ve been saving up to share with you.
On My Book Shelf:
Simplicity Parenting — I’m careful about what and how many parenting books I read. Mainly because I’m uber-impressionable and will devote myself mind, body, and spirit to any convincing voice. The result: One overloaded and subsequently ineffective mama. So. I take it slow. Wait for the right book to come my way. Then I devour it with the intensity of the First Place winner of a hot dog eating contest. Simplicity Parenting is my current munch, I mean, read. And I’m devouring it. Author Kim John Payne helps parents carve out a sanctuary for children in this hurried rat race that is modern life. It’s a sanctuary where kids can breathe, play, and explore the freedom to simply be a child. This book is one I’m reading with pen in hand and nodding emphatically, making me look like a crazy woman to anyone happening to walk by my window. Here’s my favorite paragraph from the book so far:
- We want our family to be a container of security and peace, where we can be our true selves. We want this most urgently for our children, who are engaged in the slow and tricky business of becoming themselves. Will our love and guidance give them the grace they need to grow? Children are so clearly happiest when they have the time and space to explore their worlds, at play. We may be bouncing between the future and the past, yet our children–the little Zen masters–long to stay suspended, fully engaged in the moment. Our very best hope is that they’ll develop their own voices, their own instincts and resiliency, at their own pace. And despite how many times we forget–sometimes in a single day–we absolutely know this will take time.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – I can’t remember when I enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed Sweetness. Technically it falls into the category of Young Adult lit (which I’m admittedly partial to), but the maturity of Flavia de Luce’s (the narrator) voice coupled with the literary mastery of the author enables this book to transcend the teenager moans and groans that seem to leach from most teen reads. Sweetness is a murder mystery along the lines of a Sherlock Holmes construct, and author deals with character development, plot twists, setting, and that most elusive of good writing traits: voice. I couldn’t put this book down as I followed Flavia’s delightfully urbane and intelligent pursuit of truth in her small English village of the 1950s. I can’t wait to follow this girl’s spunky sleuthing straight into the second mystery of the Flavia de Luce mysteries.
- “Ophelia and Daphne not down yet, Flavia?” [Father] asked peevishly, looking up from the latest issue of The British Philatelist, which lay open beside his meat and potatoes.“I haven’t seen them in ages,” I said.It was true. I hadn’t seen them — not since they had gagged and blindfolded me, then lugged me hog-tied up the attic stairs and locked me in the closet.
Father glared at me over his spectacles for the statutory four seconds before he went back to mumbling over his sticky treasures.
I shot him a broad smile, a smile wide enough to present him with a good view of the wire braces that caged my teeth. Although they gave me the look of a dirigible with the skin off, Father always liked being reminded that he was getting his money’s worth. But this time he was too preoccupied to notice.
Lit: A Memoir (P.S.) – a memoir written by an author who is at once novelist and poet, Lit documents the early years of mothering when author Mary Karr came to grips with her abusive childhood and her own battle with alcoholism. Karr shares her raw, honest examination of her faults and role in destroying her life mixed with an open embracing of who she is and how she came to be who she is. This is one read that will appeal to anyone who has struggled with addiction or has known someone who does (so that means all of us, right?). I found it simultaneously heart breaking, illuminating, and inspiring. Plus, the poetry excerpts she includes at the beginning of each chapter are delightful and set Lit just a tad apart from the growing field of memoirs.
- But it’s a truism, I think, that drunks like to run off. Every reality, no matter how pressing—save maybe death row—has an escape route or rabbit hole. Some drinkers go inward into a sullen spiral, and my daddy was one of these; others favor the geographic cure. My mother taught me to seek external agents of transformation—pick a new town or man or job.That’s why I left college at the end of my sophomore year: I just got this urge to run off, maybe because friends in a band were heading for Austin. Or all the rich kids were going abroad. Or maybe the course work was getting too hard, and I couldn’t face losing my scholarships and reentering the hairnet. I floundered and skipped classes that winter till, shortly before finals that spring, I just stopped showing up
Some Quick and Compelling Online Reads:
Natural Sunscreen Picks from Kitchen Stewardship
Natural Deodorant Recipe (that really, really works!) from So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter
Date Your Husband (Yes please?!) from The Idea Room
Why Cloth Diapering is Easier Than It Seems (and I totally concur) with Keeper of the Home
The Importance of Downtime – an important reality check from Simple Kids
And one final quick glance: This saying might as well be Belle Squeaks’ motto, but Artful Parent claimed it first