Posts Tagged ‘ The Still Point of the Turning World ’

Parents Picks: My Top 5 Books of 2013

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

After reading and skimming more than 100 books this year it’s no easy task to tell you which ones are my favorites. But I sat down, poured a beer and perused my overflowing bookshelf. It was so much fun to revisit Pamela Druckerman‘s Bebe by Day, Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train and Kristine Barnett‘s The Spark. They are easily among my top 12.

But if I absolutely had to whittle it down, here are my Top 5 Books of 2013. These are the books that stayed with me all year long–the ones I went on and on about until my husband’s eyes glazed over. These titles were so fresh that I fired off Facebook statuses and emails about them.

What about you? What are your favorites of 2013?

Here are mine:

1. Lean In
by Sheryl Sandberg
She stepped up to the plate this year and said what hasn’t been said before to women. Just because women want to have families and careers doesn’t mean we need to start planning for it straight out of college. She encourages women to go out there and claim what’s ours in the workplace. Wait to figure out your next steps until you’re actually pregnant. That’s advice I wish I’d had when I was getting started in 1999. Sheryl is a cool chick who has her gender’s back on every page. Take this: “’Ask a man to explain his success and he will typically credit his own innate qualities and skills. …A woman… will attribute her success to external factors, insisting she did well because she ‘worked really hard or ‘got lucky’ or ‘had help from others.’”

2. The Still Point of the Turning World
by Emily Rapp
I’ve wondered for months how Emily Rapp is doing. She lost her dear son Ronan to Tay-Sachs earlier this year around the time her memoir came out. This wasn’t the run-of-the-mill tragedy. She was unapologetically angry and fiercely sweet. Her frustration and struggle–without the religious backdrop and sentimentality–made her achingly real. She’s real in a way that I will never forget. I’m not sorry for her. I’m inspired by her book that drips with meaning and poetry.

3. Let Them Be Eaten by Bears
by Peter Brown Hoffmeister
Thanks to this book, I’ve taken my kids hiking this year for the first times ever. Right in the beginning, he writes, “With kids, we don’t get out much. It’s too hard.” That resonated with me. I’ve been saying this to my husband since my babies were first born. Now they are 8! And they had never really been outside beyond the backyard or park. Thanks to Hoffmeister’s playful and inspiring approach, we even got our butts off the couch and went camping. I let the kids wander the playground, too, and with bare feet just to make Peter even more proud of me.

4. Orange is the New Black
by Piper Kerman
If you’re tired of books and shows about desperate women chasing dreams of men, careers and babies, this one is for you. It’s got very little to do with anything you’ve probably ever read before. This memoir, which formed the fictionalized–but equally awesome Netflix TV show–is about a nice girl who graduates from college and goes buck crazy. She lands a hot, rich girlfriend who just happens to smuggle drugs internationally. Piper runs cash in this operation just one time, and she soon leaves the relationship. She becomes a nice, normal straight woman again. But the feds catch up with her 10 years later, and she winds up in federal prison for a year while her real-life fiance waits for her. The inner workings–and indecencies–of the prison system are fascinating. Her life isn’t as whack as it is in the show, (Piper and Pennsytucky became friends for real) but Piper blasts your thoughts right open. This was a unique read.

5. Until I Say Goodbye
by Susan Spencer-Wendel 
Whenever I’ve felt kind of bad this year, I reminded myself of Susan Spencer-Wendel. She lives with ALS everyday, but she isn’t sad. Instead, she does everything her heart desires, including getting makeup tattooed on her face for when she could no longer apply it herself. While she still can, she goes on an epic trip with her longtime best friend to see the Northern Lights. She takes her teenage daughter wedding dress shopping because that’s something she doesn’t want the two of them to miss. Susan’s book did make me weepy–just once–but mostly she made me laugh. Her life has purpose and meaning, and it makes me more aware of what I’m doing with my own. Her book was optioned, and a film sounds like its in the works.

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Tragic and Beautiful: Emily Rapp’s ‘The Still Point of the Turning World

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Amazing, poignant, tragic and beautiful. That’s how I’d describe Emily Rapp‘s bestselling memoir, The Still Point of the Turning World. You’ve probably heard of Emily by now. She’s written amazing pieces about her son Ronan for The New York Times and many other publications. When he was nine months old, she and her husband found out he had Tay-Sachs–an always fatal disease that creeps in as the child slowly fades away.

I honestly didn’t think I could read a book like this one. My worst nightmare–like most moms–would be losing one of my children. But Emily’s writing and insight had me gently facing my fears as I learned how her family coped with grief. They did it with sadness, anger, presence of mind and grace. Emily took something ugly and violent and truly made it change the way I think about my life. Her sweet little boy died recently, and on the day I found out, I cried.

Read The Still Point of the Turning World. The words are pure poetry, and the mother’s struggle an inspiration. I think of Emily often, and I wonder how she’s doing now. And I hope she’ll use her wisdom and talents to write another gorgeous book soon.

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2 Hot Books Reviewed: ‘The Dinner’ by Herman Koch and ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

I owe you a story about Audible. I can’t recommend audio books highly enough. I listen to the most amazing new releases while I run to Costco, the bank, the dry cleaner and while doing dishes and laundry. At the expense of my poor, ignored husband, I can easily blow through a few books a week. Which I just did, so I’m writing these reviews.

Here are my quick, no-nonsense reasons why you should read The Dinner by Herman Koch and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

The Dinner
Who would like it: Anyone who likes dark, twisted, psychological messiness would be fascinated by Herman Koch’s messed up, train wreck of a brilliant book.
What it’s about: On a nice summer evening in Amsterdam, Paul Lohman and his wife meet Paul’s brother Serge and his clearly upset spouse for dinner. The story unfolds over the many courses of the evening weaving back story and front story together as the wine glasses and dishes arrive at their table. Paul’s description of the food is manic–he really has a beef with olives–which sets the tone for what’s to come. The point of the book–the big reveal–doesn’t come until halfway through, but the journey is a lively and accurate–if disturbing–depiction of cultural norms and society. What you need to know is that each brother has a 15-year-old boy–and they share one big secret. Grotesqueness unfolds. I loved how I cringed and how I got disgusted and how I compared my wonderful family to his totally screwed up one.
Why you should read it: This is a book for people who don’t need a happy ending and but need a lot of food for thought.

Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes
Who would like it: Readers who dig offbeat love stories and don’t mind a good weep.
What it’s about: Lou Clark is a working class, sensible girl who is content living at home taking care of her parents, sister and grandfather. She has a lackluster boyfriend and future ahead of her. When she loses her job at a cafe, she takes a position caring for the insufferable quadriplegic Will Traynor. All of a sudden, her life gets deep. Will doesn’t want to live, and she realizes that his mother hired her to get him to change his mind.
Why you should read it: Lou is so relatable, and you’ll enjoy seeing how her character transforms and unfolds. I just can’t give away any more than that. This book delivers on the issues of class struggles, tragedy, heartbreak and love. I dare you to get through this book without a tissue.

Just this week, I listened to The Still Point of the Turning World by Emily Rapp and With or Without You by Domenica Ruta as well. Again, be on the lookout for more blog posts about those ASAP.

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Sending Love to Emily Rapp Author of ‘The Still Point of the Turning World;’ Her Sweet Son Ronan Passed Away Today

Friday, February 15th, 2013

A dear, smart and inspiring author, Emily Rapp, lost her son Ronan today after a long struggle with Tay-Sachs disease. Emily’s forthcoming memoir, The Still Point of the Turning Worldis one of my very top picks for 2013. I will read it soon with tears in my eyes. Here is a little more about Emily’s story directly from her press materials:

“Ronan was not expected to live beyond the age of three; he would be permanently stalled at a developmental level of six months. Rapp and her husband were forced to re-evaluate everything they thought they knew about parenting. They would have to learn to live with their child in the moment; to find happiness in the midst of sorrow; to parent without a future. The Still Point of the Turning World is the story of a mother’s journey through grief and beyond it.”

Peace be with you, Emily. Peace be with your family. Peace be with Ronan up above.
In lieu of gifts, the family requests that donations be made in Ronan’s name to National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases.
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10 Books I Can’t Wait to Read in 2013

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Bookworms will love the lineup of parenting memoirs and advice that are scheduled for release in 2013. I know I am. Here are the books I can’t wait to read in the New Year. Stay tuned for my write ups about them on this blog.

The Heavy: A Mother Daughter Memoir
by Dara-Lynn Weiss
Did you hear about the mom who put her 7-year-old daughter on a strict diet and wrote about it for Vogue? Author Dara Lynn-Weiss caused such a stir that she got a book deal. This memoir tells the story from start to finish–how the doctor labeled her little girl obese, and how this mother decided to take care of it. The book is supposed to be brutally honest, and Lynn-Weiss claims that her insights will help other parents in the same situation. (Jan. 15)

Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye: A Family Field Trip to the Arctic’s Edge in Search of Adventure, Truth, and Mini-Marshmallows
by Zac Unger
In this memoir, one dad takes his family to Antarctica–Churchill, Manitoba to be exact. In the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” he examines a faraway place that’s one of Mother Nature’s last strongholds. A seasoned writer, he observes the human relationship with the great bears. And he took his wife and two kids there! (Jan. 29)

The Food Allergy Mama’s Easy, Fast Family Meals
by Kelly Rudnicki
The author runs the helpful and popular blog, The Food Allergy Mama, and she also wrote the companion book The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking BookShe has five kids, one with severe food allergies. All recipes are free of milk, butter, cheese, eggs and nuts. She uses easy-to-find, inexpensive ingredients to make dishes like oatmeal fudge bars. (Feb. 5)

The Secrets of Happy Families
by Bruce Feiler
Popular New York Times columnist and best-selling author promises another warm and helpful book. He often writes beautifully about religion (Walking the Bible), but this one focuses on innovative ways to connect as a family. He didn’t go to psychologists for advice but instead to Silicon Valley execs and folks on the set of Modern Family. Some of the surprising advice in this book will be to ditch the sex talk, don’t worry about family dinner and let your kids pick their own punishments. (Feb. 19)

The Still Point of the Turning World
by Emily Rapp
Rapp’s books (Poster Child) and articles are beautiful to read, but her piece in the New York Times called Notes from a Dragon Mom was particularly heartbreaking. In it, she writes about the short life of her young son Ronan who is diagnosed with Tay-Sachs. In her trademark way, she gently takes readers on her family’s difficult journey. (March 7)

French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment in Parisian Parenting
by Catherine Crawford
For readers who were into in the controversial book Bringing Up Bebe, this book offers another intimate look into the secrets of French parenting. Instead of going to Paris to immerse her family in French ways, the author brings French attitudes to Brooklyn. She writes about her European hands-off approach and how it worked magnificently–most of the time–with her two kids. Now they eat lamb chops! (March 12)

Raising Cubby: A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives
by John Elder Robison
Diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 40, this dad writes about the adventures he has raising his son Cubby. Irreverent, hilarious and a little dark, this book is gives readers an inside look at what it’s like to be a person on the autism spectrum. He hopes to inspire his readers to embrace and celebrate misfits and geeks. If you’ve seen or read Running with Scissors, you might have met John–he is Augusten Burroughs’ brother. (March 12)

Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures
by Amber Dusik
Hiliarious Parents’ writer Dusik finally gets to crack readers up with her own parenting book, and yes, the pictures are really bad. She’s a popular blogger, but in this book she delves into life with kids while sharing stories. Silly ones like the time her child asked if clowns will throw pies at her at the circus. She’s aiming for a funny run of stories and essays along the lines of Jenny Lawson’s Let Pretend this Never Happened. (March 19)

The Object of My Conception
by Elisabeth Rohm
Rohm, best known for her role on Law and Order, blogged about her infertility for People.com, and she was overwhelmed by the positive responses from women who were going through the same thing. In her memoir, she tells the story of her fertility issues, her IVF treatments and her successful journey into motherhood. (April 9)

Learning to Listen: A Life Caring for Children
by T. Berry Brazelton
Fans of this caring and famous pediatrician will be interested in the story of his life. From growing up in Texas to heading to Princeton and Harvard to diving into research on newborn babies, this book tells the story of a great man in his own words. You probably know his seminal book Touchstones, a handbook for all parents of babies from birth to age 3. (April 9)

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