Archive for the ‘ Best Of Lists ’ Category

‘Far From the Tree’s’ Author Andrew Solomon on ‘Katie’ Today

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

One of the most important parenting books of last year was Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree. I’m not usually a cryer–my eyes stayed dry during all of Les Miserables–but this book made me weep. The sections on autism and schizophrenia are particularly insightful, surprising and heartbreaking. Far from the Tree goes into intense detail about what it’s like to parent children who are out of the ordinary. What would you do if you had a child who was deaf, autistic, schizophrenic, brilliant or became a murderer? Your whole identity as a parent will be altered just by pondering such big questions.

Don’t have time to read Solomon’s 700-page book? (It took me 20 hours.)  He will be featured on Katie Couric’s show, Katie, this afternoon. He is bringing along some of the parents he interviewed. I anxiously read about these achingly real and relatable people, and I want to see them speak about their children–and how they’ve tried to improve their lives–on Katie’s show. Click this link to watch the teaser for the episode.

Check out Katie today. It airs at 3 p.m. EST on ABC on the East Coast. Are you as moved by the stories in Far From the Tree as I am?

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Best Parenting Books of 2012

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Whenever I got down about parenting this year–i.e. when my 5-year-old only wanted Daddy to put him to bed and my 7-year-olds started painting their own nails (and the dog’s)–I turned to advice books for advice and wisdom.

Luckily, there were so many authors with witty, strong and fun opinions. The following parenting titles made me sure of a few things. First, I’m not a bad parent–and neither are you, Jenny Lawson. Second, it’s super easy to do better without stressing out–thank you Heather Shumaker. Plus, who doesn’t want to have a whole lot more fun? Below, see my picks for the best parenting books of 2012.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
by Jenny Lawson
Whatever problems your family has, author Jenny Lawson can probably top them. Her hilarious memoir takes you from her raucous, offbeat and bloody childhood to her attached-by-a-marriage-document relationship with her long-suffering husband named Victor. She overcomes a life-threatening pregnancy, a fight over a metal chicken and the zombie apocalypse with messed up insight that totally and completely enlightened me.
Favorite line: “When Hailey was born my first thought was that I needed a drink and that hospitals should have bars in them.”

It’s Okay Not to Share
by Heather Shumaker
This book makes it okay–even preferable–to invite my friends with kids over for dinner and totally ignore the munchkins. So what if they argue over a toy? As long as no one is getting hurt, they’ll work it out more efficiently on their own. And what if my daughter doesn’t like the girl who keeps asking her for a playdate? That’s okay. Adults don’t like everyone we meet, so why should little kids? All we really have to do is be polite, nice and compassionate. I love the no-nonsense advice for parenting in today’s overprotective, helicopter world. Shumaker untangles tightwad adult rules and makes perfect sense.
Favorite idea: Kids don’t have to say, ‘Sorry.’ Overuse of the word is a cop-out and has no meaning. Instead, children should take action to set things right.

Unbored
by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen
This book makes a great case for saving yourself some serious money and not buying your kid a Wii. Even if you, like me, already caved on that one, you’ll still love Unbored. It’s filled with activities that you’ll really want to do with your kids. For my little kids, I liked making the no-sew stuffed animal and becoming a yarn bomber. But this book is great for tweens, too. It even has a section on how to “Train Your Grownup to Let You Go Solo.”
Favorite chapter: “Train Your Grownup to Curse without Cursing”

What were your favorite parenting books this year?

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Fifty Shades Tops Amazon’s Bestselling Book of 2012 List

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

The main reason I’m writing this post today is so I can mention the Fifty Shades Trilogy before 2012 ends. I know this is an outrageous statement–and I don’t want my blog followers to dislike me–but I think 50 Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed are silly.

But, hey, I read them all. I’ll admit that the sex scenes turned me on. My husband liked them. And most of my friends dug the E. L. James novels, and everyone I know was talking about them last summer.

Recently, Amazon announced its top-selling books of the year, and there were fifty shades of no surprises. The trilogy earned half a billion dollars in gross sales in 2012. In June, Fifty Shades of Grey was the fastest-selling paperback of all time beating out the Harry Potter series.

I could buy a lot of Hershey’s Kisses and Apple products with cash like that. You know, for my kids.

Sigh. Let’s all lament for a moment on how we could’ve been and should’ve been E. L. James. Have a book inside of you? I do. Let’s write it. There’s always 2013.

Here are the rest of Amazon’s Top Selling Books of 2012. Parents of young kids have slightly different taste than the general public, but there’s some overlap, of course, because Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 7 just plain rocks.

1. through 3. Fifty Shades of the Sillies
4. The Hunger Games (Book 1)
5. StrengthsFinder 2.0 (*I haven’t heard of this one either)
6. Fifty Shades Trilogy
7. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Book 2)
8. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games Book 3)
9. The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 7)
10. No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden
11. The Hunger Games Trilogy
12. Gone Girl
13. The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus Book 3)
14. The Official SAT Study Guide, 2nd Edition
15. A Song of Ice and Fire (Books 1 through 4 of Game of Thrones) 

For some really good books, check out the Parents’ staff picks post from yesterday.

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The Staff of Parents Picks 2012′s Best Books

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Who cares what The New York Times picked as the best books of 2012? Forget what the editors at Oprah chose (their list came out today). What you really want to read are the books that the editors of Parents and American Baby magazines loved. Why? Because these people are down-to-earth, time-crunched, fun and all-around super cool. In short, these are the best books of 2012 picked by readers who are just like you.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
by Katherine Boo
“This was by far my favorite because she managed to really capture the essence of the Mumbai society she was profiling. Her characters were three-dimensional and not caricatures and the portrait of their life in the slums captured the dignity and hope as well as the challenges and disappointments they live with every day.”
–Michael Kress

Bring Up the Bodies
by Hilary Mantel
“Ah, Thomas Cromwell. This book, and the one before it, Wolf Hall, may be
about Henry VIII’s right-hand man when he was annullding his first wife and
then marrying and divorcing Anne Boleyn, but the character description
of Cromwell is so well-rounded and rich, I found myself imagining he was
walking down the street to work with me in the morning. Cromwell was a
man of the future and I think he would be proud to see what the world is
like today, especially that women have made so much progress.”
–Mindy Berry Walker

Heft
by Liz Moore
“I couldn’t put down Heft, by Liz Moore, a beautifully written book about a 550-pound former teacher who no longer leaves his home, and the relationship he develops with the teenage son of one of his students.”
–Diane Debrovner

Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
“Her hilarious, biting passage about the mythical ‘Cool Girl’—the male fantasy of the woman who loves football, burping, and chili dogs, all while wearing a size 2—alone made this book worth reading!
–Gail O’Connor
*also favored by Erica Clark, Jessica Hartshorn, Taryn Mohrman, Chandra Turner, Sarah Sebastiano

How to be a Woman
by Caitlin Moran
“It claims to be an update of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch, but its feminism is delivered with a sense humor over a good beer, with its stories in turns hilarious, heartbreaking, wise, frustrating, and utterly rabble-rousing.”
–Julie Taraska

In the Garden of Beasts
by Erik Larson
“It’s the true and compelling story of William Dodd, the U.S. Ambassador to Nazi Germany in the years before WWII, and his 20-something daughter, who had numerous affairs while the family lived there, including one with an Soviet spy.”
–Diane Debrovner

Paris in Love
by Eloisa James
“This light-hearted, authentic read is formatted from snippets of the author’s blog posts about her year abroad with her family. (Plus, the short entries and loose plot line made it a great grab-and-go book for whenever I found a few extra minutes.)”
–Maryn Liles

Tell the Wolves I’m Home
by Carol Rifka Brunt
“Tell the Wolves I’m Home hurt my heart (in a good way); it forced me to take a closer look at the relationships in my life and make sure I was giving those I care about the love they deserve.”
–April Rueb

The Fault in Our Stars 
by John Green
“Intelligently and carefully written, John Green weaves a delicate story of truths and young love beneath the hovering cloud of sickness and fate.”
–Ruthie Fierberg

Unbroken
by Laura Hillenbran
“As a mom of an active young boy, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand especially got to me. It’s a true story about a World War II airman who beat incredible obstacles to survive with skills—speed, resourcefulness, determination—learned from a mischievous, defiant boyhood. It showed me that the very things that sometimes drive parents crazy can, when harnessed for good purpose, help turn kids into adults who are able to overcome anything.”
–Gail O’Connor

Where’d You Go Bernadette?
by Maria Semple
“This was my favorite book of the year because of its unconventional style (the drama unfolds largely through letters and emails written between characters) and its surprising mystery element that made it unputdownable!”
–Sumana Ghosh-Witherspoon
*Also favored by Kara Corridan

Wherever I Wind Up
by R. A. Dickey,
“It’s about the Mets’ knuckleball pitcher who took an unlikely journey from failed minor leaguer to star pitcher for the Mets (he won the Cy Young Award just months after climbing Mt. Kilmanjaro to raise money to fight human trafficking. A totally entertaining and inspiring story that teaches us to never give up on our dreams.”
–David Sparrow

 

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My Roundup: Best Books of 2012

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

I love December. Sure, the presents, cookies and family time are great. But what gets me really excited? The Best Books of 2012 lists. I don’t usually agree with the (snobbish) book world’s top picks, but I relish in reading their carefully selected and politically correct choices. You know in high school when the coach would post who made the cheerleading squad? Book picks are like that for me because I’m a geek.

Below, I’ve compiled Best of Lists from The New York Times, Amazon and Publisher’s Weekly. I saw several repeats such as Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Building Stories by Chris Ware and Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.

Have you read any of those three? I haven’t. How many of the books below interest you? I’ve read four of them, and three others are in my to-read pile. Is it PC to write that several of these seem kind of boring? I only speak the truth.

I’ll write about my own picks next week, and I promise they’re more fun. Also, stay tuned for a post about the books Parents staffers loved this year.

Most importantly, what’s your favorite book of 2012? Bare your soul to me in the comments. 

The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2012

Fiction
Bring Up the Bodies
by Hilary Mantel

Building Stories
by Chris Ware

A Hologram for a King
by Dave Eggars

NW
by Zadie Smith

The Yellow Birds
by Kevin Powers

(more…)

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