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Saturday, February 09, 2013

November/December/January Books

My reading rate has dropped precipitously over the past few months. The reasons being that I've undertaken to read a lengthy tome, and Isla has become the Usain Bolt of breastfeeding. Since I do a lot of my reading while I'm nursing- and now I'm only getting through a few pages per session- I'm getting through a lot fewer books. Within the next few months I'm going to start dropping feedings and then I don't know if I'll read ever again. But for now, onward!

In November I read: 

The First 20 Minutes by Gretchen Reynolds
This is a compilation of the latest exercise research, which means that as I'm typing this, probably two thirds of the book is no longer relevant. Trying to grasp the gist of  the latest research in any field is akin to trying to nail jello to the wall: new things are discovered and old ideas are rendered obsolete at a dizzying pace. In exercise science, one day stretching is considered essential, the next day it is unnecessary. One day you should drink 64 ounces of water per day, then, after all that peeing, you are told that you should just drink when you're thirsty. (Thanks! I could've saved myself a few trips to the bathroom.)

Aparantly the new big idea in exercise science is: use your common sense. For example: Just exercise. For how long? It really doesn't matter, any amount is better than none. What should you do? It really doesn't matter, anything is better than nothing. (But you should do resistance training.) Also, you are the best judge of what is healthy for you: if something hurts, rest it; if you're tired, take a break; if you're thirsty, drink, etc.

I rather like this common sense approach because it's overwhelming to try to keep up with all the new recommendations that constantly come out. I liked this book. It was sometimes tedious because she cited So. Many. Studies. but it reassured me that I don't have to try to maintain a herculean exercise program to reap the benefits of exercise.

Finding Emilie by Laurel Corona.
This was historical fiction set in pre- revolutionary France. It was thoroughly meh. I usually like books about France- especially the time period around the revolution. Actually, now that I typed that, I can only recall reading three that fit that description. Of those, I only really loved one. So, if you're going to read a book that takes place in or around the time of the French Revolution, read A Tale of Two Cities, not this one.

December

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
I saw this book on a friend's blog. She linked to this article by the same author. After reading the article, I immediately requested the book from the library. It was a  fascinating and quick read. The article only covers one aspect of habit- how corporations use our habits to get us to buy more stuff from them. He discuses several aspects in the book from individual habits to societal habits. I haven't intentionally applied these theories to my life, but I've found that I've unconsciously used them in the past when trying to adopt new habits. I would recommend this book.

Also, late into December I undertook to read The Brothers Karamazov, which being a behemoth of a novel, I will post about sometime in March.

January:

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
I listened to this. I loved it. The further I got into it, the more I liked it. I wasn't that interested in the beginning but by the end I was intrigued.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
I had to take a short break from the Brothers K to read this for a book club. I have not read a book by Malcolm Gladwell that I wanted to put down. It's like brain candy. This one is about small, sometimes obvious, sometimes obscure factors that transform ideas into movements.

Incidentally, John often asks me what book I'm reading so, I told him: The Brothers Karamazov. He asked me what it's about, so I told him: patricide. (Who am I to sanitize the themes of classic literature?) So, now when he sees me reading it, he asks: "Is that the Brothers Karamazov? It's about patricide?" It's pretty funny. Not patricide, of course, but that my 2 year old can repeat what the Brothers K is about. I'm going to do this with all the classics. I want him walking into kindergarten able to summarize a wide range of novels, each in 5 words or less. I don't care if he knows how to read or tie his shoes, he'll learn that eventually, but this, this is a priority. So far I've got:

Crime and Punishment: The crushing weight of guilt

I need to start working on the Jane Austens:

Pride and Prejudice: Five Saucy Sisters? A Plucky Heroin and a Curmudgeonly Suitor? The injustice of primogeniture?


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