Thursday, July 12, 2012

Betsy's Summer Nonfiction Reads (Weekly Round-up)

Not much reading on the homefront these days. I've been cooking more, working on some heavy duty (and hitherto neglected) cleaning chores, spending some lovely extended evenings with friends, and enjoying play time with the kids. I've also read several interesting nonfiction books this summer--these are slower reads than the middle grades fiction I can whip through, so my "tally" in terms of numbers isn't as high. But since I'm not doing homework this summer (yea!), I've had more brain power to devote to books like these. Here is a snapshot of what I've been reading (in no particular order):

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

A GREAT book all the way around as far as encouraging you to reign in commitments, toys, and other cluttering items in your life. While this book is from a secular perspective, I thought it dovetailed nicely with many Christian books I've read on parenting as well. Definitely worth a read--it's nice to have an "expert" be reassuring us we don't have to keep up with the Joneses and have our 4-year-olds competing in soccer, training for a ballet career, or going to extra academic classes to get ahead. It's a good reminder, too, to analyze our house's collection of play equipment, to reevaluate our routines (from food to sleep to general schedule), and to enjoy a little more time with one another.

10 Things Parents Must Teach Their Children by Edith Schaeffer

I've recently reviewed this gem, so I'll do more than to say it's worth reading--whether or not you're a parent!

Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow

This book has been recommended to me several times over the years when various friends of mine have read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I finally picked it up--and am glad I did! Dillow, very biblically, explores many issues surrounding contentment, or the lack thereof. Very convicting, even if you think you don't really struggle with contentment (she covers lots of ground here).

Before the Throne of God by Carol J. Ruvolo

I've been reading this for my women's Bible study at church, and it's pretty good. I have mild quibbles with the writing style here and there (I did, also, with Dillow's book). Overall, though, it's very Biblical, and challenges us to pray using Scripture as our base.

Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Satter

Explores how parents should (but often do not) feed their children, how to encourage children to eat more variety--particularly vegetables, and things like that. Her big push is the division of labor: parents choose when, what, and how to serve food-wise; children choose how much to eat. Much of this book is devoted to infant and toddler feeding needs/strategies/recommendations. I skipped those chapters. Worth reading for those interested in these sorts of things, but I don't 100% agree with everything (isn't that always the case?! ☺).

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon

Wow! One of my favorite reads this summer (so far ☺). A Canadian woman married to a Frenchman; they decide to spend a year in Brittany near his family and their children are preschool and kindergarten ages. What follows is an unintended expose of some of the poorer North American habits and attitudes towards food (particularly where children are concerned) and a fascinating comparison to the French attitude. Not rocket science, but very interesting and inspiring--in part because it reminded me of the general attitude toward food in Europe and so much of the rest of the world. Let's not focus so much on health, per se, but on enjoying and savoring our food rather than gobbling down "our money's worth" at an all-you-can-eat-buffet, on anticipating the next meal instead of grabbing a mediocre snack to tide us over, and on the social component of eating together.

An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies by Tyler Cowen

Another interesting, albeit slower, read. If you, like me, enjoy reading and discussing food-related issues (everything from finding a good ethnic restaurant to musing over the seeming tension between locavores and big agribusiness to celebrating BBQ to wondering why the American food scene is the way it is...), then you will no doubt find this book interesting. As a former English teacher, I think this book might be easier to listen to; he may write well for an economist but the paucity of punctuation at times and the general writing style sometimes gets on my nerves ☺.

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