Bookshelf

Bon voyage book list

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Here’s a little glimpse at what’s currently on my book shelf, soon-to-be book bag. Holiday reading is the absolute best and although a tablet would be much more practical to travel with, I love the texture of pages too much to trade it in for my kindle.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I primarily chose this novel for nostalgic and sentimental reasons. The majority of the story takes place in the city of Bath where we’ll be staying for a few days. The nerd in me couldn’t help but go with reading a novel set in the place I’ll be vacationing by one of my all-time favorite authors. Did I mention The Jane Austen Centre is located in Bath? Just thinking about it makes me giddy!

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier 

This is one from my 2016 Reading Challenge list. It’s from the category “A book you’ve read at least once.” I remember all the feelings I had while reading this for the first time a few years ago. Du Maurier is a genius at creating suspense and doubt around characters. You never know who to believe or trust. There is a bit of traveling that takes place in the novel and it’s a page turner which necessary while flying and waiting in airports.

Love and Other Ways of Dying by Michael Paterniti

I’m currently reading this for my book club. Whether you’re a fan of nonfiction essays or not, there will be something in this collection for you. I’ve only read the first handful of essays and I have never been more intrigued or captivated by nonfiction before. Paterniti’s sentences are gorgeous to read and each essay reveals something about human nature in a really light way.

What do you like to read while on vacation and traveling? I have been storing of Serial podcasts to listen to as well. Do you prefer podcasts or books? Au revoir, dear friends.

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Bookshelf

2016 Reading Challenge

For the first time in over 3 years, I have time and energy to read novels like I used to. Inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge, I’ve assembled my list. Here’s to being (overly) ambitious! And hopefully, reading some good literature this year. Now, I have to decide which one to do first. What’s on your reading list this year?

  • A book published this year: What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

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  • A book you can finish in a day: See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid

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  • A book you’ve been meaning to read: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

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  • A book recommended by local book seller: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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  • A book you should have read in school: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

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  • A book chosen by a sibling: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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  • A book published before I was born: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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  • A book that was banned at some point: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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  • A book you previously abandoned: Dead Souls by Gogol

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  • A book you own but never read: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

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  • A book that intimidates you: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
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  • A book you’ve read at least once: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

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Bookshelf

A brief review of Bringing up Bébé

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Let me start with this bold statement: Parents decide how they want to parent; this happens either intentionally or unintentionally.

To every non-parent this probably sounds quite logical and simple. I’m guessing some parents read that as a loaded, if not judgmental sentiment.

I’m a novice mom. I have two kids both under the age of four. Every day I learn something new. Before I had my kids, my only expectation about parenting was that it is was  incredibly hard and equally rewarding. Throughout my childhood, teenage years, and young twenties I actively babysit and observed parents and kids. My husband and I waited seven years to have kids because of my observations and expectations.

Now that both my kids have exited the baby phase, I find myself researching and wanting to learn about parenting kids. It’s a big switch. I decided to ease myself in with an observational, cultural, anecdotal book: Bringing up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. The book was recently re-released as Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting

Before I dive into the book. Let me go back to the initial statement I made. The one thing I have observed as a parent surrounded by other parents is whether we admit it to ourselves or not, we generally think we know what’s best for our kids and attempt to parent through that belief. Some parents believe more strongly than others and communicate those feelings while others just do what they do and leave it at that.

I have two primary responses to the book, one is philosophical while the other practical. Here are my main takeaways from the book when it comes to foundational aspects of French parenting that I can learn from:

  • Consistent and strict boundaries that are loosened over time provide a sense of safety for kids to grow and develop (as she learns, “it’s easier to loosen a screw that to tighten it”)
  • Self-control and autonomy are essential elements to learn as a child
  • Rather than “raising” kids, they “educate” them in every aspect of life
  • Praise is given specifically and genuinely rather than for every little accomplishment
  • Teaching kids to say hello, goodbye, please, and thank you as well as other social etiquette and verbal communication are priority before any learning the alphabet, numbers, etc.
  • Guilt is a negative thing when it comes to parenting; because it’s not helpful, it’s not dwelled on
  • Parents’ needs are valued and prioritized; kids are valued but within a hierarchy (it’s like the oxygen mask in the airplane: in order to help your kids you need to help yourself first)

Takeaways from the book about American parenting that caused me to pause and reflect while reading:

  • Choice is everything in American culture which translates so easily and pervasively into parenting: choices on how to parent, choices given to kids, choices on doctors, food, schools, daycare, toys, and on and on
  • Independence and self-expression are more highly valued than autonomy (very different from independence) and self-control
  • The diversity of resources and styles in parenting brings out the best of the best and the worst of the worst (there is rarely a happy medium or moderate approach to anything in the U.S. and this definitely translates into the world of kids)
  • We are obsessed with milestones and quantifiable achievements
  •  Guilt is sometimes glorified and expected as a normal feeling to have as a parent

It’s difficult to write about parenting in two cultures without being stereotypical. Druckerman avoids this by being specific (for the most part) with her anecdotal experience comparing parenting in Paris to parenting in New York. She also avoids it by bringing it A LOT of research and statistics.

Here’s the one practical thing I’ve implemented since reading the book: being more structured in my approach to food with my kids. Here are a few of the changes:

  • They eat all their food at the table no exceptions
  • They have breakfast, a tiny morning snack of fruit, lunch, a small afternoon snack, and dinner
  • Their drinks remain at the table throughout the day
  • Their lunch and dinner is given in courses: first vegetables, second protein and carbs, third fruit, and sometimes fourth dessert
  • They don’t have to finish or even like everything, but they must try one taste of everything

Returning to my statement at the beginning: Parents decide how they want to parent; this happens either intentionally or unintentionally.

I have been very intentional about certain aspects of my parenting, while others have evolved unintentionally over time. Reading Bringing up Bébé has forced me to think about how and why I do the things I do.

Becoming a parent is like entering a boxing arena you didn’t even know existed. There are punches being thrown from every direction, people watching and giving their advice from every angle, and you’re just trying to survive. Every once in a while it’s refreshing to read something from a completely new perspective because it pulls me out of the boxing arena to observe what is actually happening from a distance in order to think, strategize, and pray that when I go back in I can change some things for the better.