43 Books: Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest

As part of my 43 Before 43, I’m reading 43 books.

I bought this for myself for my birthday and it is book number 39. Not too shabby.

Let me start with what I liked about the book:

  • The title. Seriously, if the word minimalist is in the title I’ve probably already checked it out.
  • The subtitle: Enjoy Modern Family Life MORE by doing LESS. – I love doing less and enjoying more. Like a lot.
  • An entire chapter dedicated to self-care!
  • The ideas in this book are completely doable.
  • This book helped me feel less alone in the sense that I want to do less and enjoy parenting more. I still see so much what I call parenting Olympics around that it was refreshing to read a book with beliefs similar to mine.
  • As part of the book launch, the authors held a 2 week Min Camp where each day we were asked to do an easy action from the book. It was such a great way to put the book into action. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s still going on.
  • I love the idea of limiting extra curricular activities (both from a parent AND teacher perspective – down time is good for everyone).
  • I love the idea of saying no to activities and physical stuff to make room for the remarkable.
  • Kudos to the authors for emphasizing working with the teacher when dealing with their kids’ school and the idea of GOOD ENOUGH when it comes to school. I was basically fist pumping and shouting during that part.

A couple of things that weren’t my favorite:

  • I wish the self-care chapter would have been first instead of last because I am such a huge advocate of self-care. I get that a lot of people haven’t been taking care of themselves and have to sort of be talked into doing something for themselves. But SO IMPORTANT!
  • The writing in the education section got a bit circular. I’m thinking because it is so ridiculously personal for each family and everyone’s experience is so different. Still, the emphasis on taking the competition out, (ironically) wins.

The all important question – would I want to be friends with the author?

Good lord, YES! Asha and Christine use their own experiences and family stories to illustrate the topics in the book and I feel like we are kindred spirits.

Should you read Minimalist Parenting?

Absolutely. If you have kids and feel like your life is running you instead of you enjoying it, read this book now.

Have you read Minimalist Parenting? What did you think?

43 Books: A Short Guide to A Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

As part of my 43 Before 43, I’m reading 43 books.

A Short Guide to A Happy Life is a very quick read that gave me pause.

Let me start with what I liked about the book:

  • The title. So many key elements for wanting to read this book: short, guide and happy.
  • It mostly felt fresh and heartfelt.
  • She talks about being in sole custody of your life. – In my mind both daunting and exhilarating.
  • She talks about living a full life beyond work, school, achievements and developing your soul. – I couldn’t agree more. There is so much more to life than working.
  • I read it in less than half an hour – (plus I could add another read to my list!) – and it left enough of an impression I wanted to tell others about it.

An excerpt and my favorite part: 

But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.

A couple of things that weren’t my favorite:

  • In some places it felt a bit dated (published in 2000). Post 9/11 writing has a different feeling.
  • The quotes definitely have been used a lot since publication – example:  “No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time at the office.” – Paul Tsongas

The all important question – would I want to be friends with the author?

Yes. She seems to have a lot to teach (and so many books for me to catch up on).

Should you read A Short Guide to a Happy Life?

Yes. I think most of us could use a bit more happiness in our lives and development of our souls.

Have you read A Short Guide to a Happy Life? What did you think?

43 Books – Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer

As part of my 43 Before 43, I’m reading 43 books.

I am totally conflicted about this book. I didn’t put it down until I was finished despite having just come home with a new baby and a serious case of insomnia. And yet, I was irritated the whole time I was reading it.

Let me start with what I really liked about the book:

  • The title. I would have argued with the publisher to leave off the 23 poses part.
  • Each chapter is a pose name and the ones where the author tells about her childhood are called child’s pose – clever and it only took me half way through the book to figure that out. {see insomnia/stupidity}
  • The author and I each suffer from mama anxiety and use yoga as a way to find our sanity or at least a way to ease some of the pain in our aching backs.
  • Like most people, we both started out with a really physical practice and learned to quiet it down.
  • We are about the same age so our cultural references are spot on – apparently we love the 90’s.
  • The Pacific Northwest! I lived there (in the 90’s!) and could picture the setting perfectly.
  • Claire explores the others limbs of yoga besides asana and gets to the down and dirty of why yoga can be such a life changing practice.

So what was my problem?

I think I identified a little too closely for my comfort with Claire. This book could, in a lot of ways, be mine. Although at points it just sounds whiny and precious and all first-worldly and I wanted to smack both of us and quite frankly I’m not sure I wanted to tell this story yet (or ever), so it was shocking to see it on the page.

Claire’s yoga story is so similar to mine,  with all it’s twists, turns and complaints, I felt like she’d some how inhabited my most annoying self and decided to let that cat out of the bag. It just isn’t the easy breezy side I’ve been trying to cultivate for the world to see and I’m at once horrified to see all “my” crap out there and secretly thrilled I’m not the only one with this particular brand of crazy.

In a completely petty side note, the mention that her brother was in a band that was super popular in the 90’s (and she named the band!) bugged the holy hell out of me. Why? I guess because it seemed all star-f*ckery and it totally wasn’t relavent to the story. Brother? Yes. Name of band? No.

The all important question – would I want to be friends with the author?

Absolutely. At the very least we could talk about how great the 90’s were.

Should you read Poser?

Yes, if you are someone exploring yoga beyond a Saturday morning exercise class or is interested in a brief look into the history of the other limbs of yoga.

Have you read Poser? What did you think?

43 Books – Battle Hymn of A Tiger Mother

As part of my 43 Things Before 43, I am reading 43 books.

Here is the list as it stands now.

1. Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother {finished November 2011} – I read this book in 3 days with a baby. Needless to say, I found it hard to put down.

I’m surprised because I didn’t think I would like it based on some of the talk on Twitter and book reviews. A lot of people clearly didn’t read the book and relied on pull quotes, when taken out of context, make the author sound like a crazy ogre.

What did I like about it?

Amy Chua is funny and quite direct in her approach both in parenting and in writing. I found her writing style to be engaging  and easy to read. Plus she’s pretty self-reflective and sees her ways as extreme. At least she’s not fooling herself. Plus, she’s not asking you to raise your kids the Chinese way.

Would I want to be friends with her if I met her?

Maybe. She’s a bit intense, but I can be too. She is funny and self-reflective and truly only wants what is best for her kids. Although she may be a bit harsh for my taste. I probably would end up telling her that “thoughts are for inside” – rough translation: dude, stop being so harsh.

Do I agree with all of her methods?

Absolutely not. In some cases she just sounds cruel.

On the other hand, I do agree a lot of parents take the easy way out. Nothing is more frustrating as a teacher than to be the only one seemingly invested in a student’s success. Somethings take practice and practice isn’t always fun.

Truth be told, I may have been a bit of a “tiger teacher” my first few years. While my actions didn’t measure up to Chua’s, these were my students, not my own children. We both shared high expectations for our young people and in the process aren’t very popular.

This book is definitely NOT a parenting or child care book, but a memoir.

I definitely recommend reading this book. Please skip the reviews (except mine, of course) and read it for yourself.

Have you read Hymn of A Tiger Mother? What did you think?

Do you have any books you loved and think I should read?