Tuesday, April 6, 2010

books I've read lately

I seem to be on a non-fiction kick; it's weird. I am reading a couple interesting novels right now, though, so I'll have reviews of them soon.
Here's what I've read since the last time I posted about it:

Boundaries with Kid: When to say YES, When to Say NO, to Help Your Children Gain Control of Their Lives  – Cloud, Dr. Henry and Townsend, Dr. John - This was one of those books that encouraged me to keep going on as we've started, and that gave me some good ideas about how to do that. I like their concept that in order to give your kids self-control, you've got to exercise it yourself. You have to be clear and firm about what they may and may not do, and with those boundaries absolutely inviolable, you then have the space to be very compassionate towards your frustrated kids. If the rules aren't up for debate, then you can sympathize with kids who are experiencing the consequences of breaking the rules, rather than spilling your anger out on them because you don't know how to handle their misbehavior.
      As the authors point out, your kids always have choices, and your job is to make their choices clear. You can't make a child obey, but you can make the consequences for disobedience exist. And you can help make the good choice more appealing and the bad choice less appealing. 
     What I really like about this book is that it takes into account the fact that when you deal with kids, you're dealing with little sinners (not so unlike their parents, eh?), and that what you really want to do is harness their self-interest. And it works, because ultimately it is in their self-interest to obey, to become good, loving people. In other words, it works because it's based in reality, the reality that children are sinners and the reality that true happiness is found in virtue, not vice.
Stardoc  – Viehl, S. L. This book had some interesting world-building, but I really didn't like where it ended up going, and I'm not planning to read the sequels.
Keeping House: the Litany of Everyday Life  – Peterson, Margaret Kim. Review here.
Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School – Medina, John  -This one was fascinating. I finally found out why it's possible to faint from shock! Your brain is so glucose-hungry that you can only use a very small percentage of it at a time, for the simple reason that you don't have enough glucose (or enough oxygen to break the glucose down, or the ability to get rid of the by-products of oxygen break-down fast enough) to fuel more than a small percentage. So if you see/learn something shocking, your brain tries to process too much at once, using too large a percentage of your brain, and the brain has to shut off because it doesn't have enough energy to do that much processing!
     This, and many, many other interesting facts are in this book. It does a good job of explaining what we do know about how the brain works and how very, very much we don't know, and the author has lots of ideas for experiments that should be run so that we can find out more. In the meantime, he has advice for living better lives based on what we do know about how our brains work. Most of them are very elementary (e.g., exercise, get enough rest), but I found it fascinating to learn how neurology supports those common-sense bits of advice.
Beholder’s Eye: Web Shifters #1 – Czerneda, Julie E. - I love Julie Czerneda. She's definitely in my top-five list of sci-fi authors (along with, hm, Bujold, Asimov, Clarke, and Miller&Lee? Maybe?). This series is about a shape-shifter, but like any good sci-fi author, Czerneda puts enough limits around her heroine's seeming-super-power that the plot holds your interest. Czerneda is probably the best alien-builder I know, going way beyond your simple humanoid-with-extra-forehead-ridges or humanoid-with-blue-skin. In this series, I loved how her heroine's worldview shifted whenever she shifted shapes, as she took on the characteristics and fears and drives of the creature she was imitating.How about the rest of you? Read anything you loved recently? Or hated? I'm always open to recommendations; my list is so long right now that I know I'm never going to finish it, so I might as well add some more!
peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell


Tienne said...

Jessica, your ability to read so much just amazes me. Where do you find the time with four kids, a book in progress and a house to maintain?

Jessica said...

Tienne, thank you, but the honest answer is that there is no one day when I get everything. This last week, I read instead of writing, which just kills me, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

I do read quickly, though, and I also read during meals, or while I brush my teeth - that kind of thing. It fits into the cracks. And sometimes it means I don't get enough sleep. :)

Jessica said...

Whoops! should have read "no one day when I get everything DONE." See? Scatter-brained. Too much study hath driven me mad. ;)