'Tis The Season

I read a lot. It’s how I unwind and let my brain wander into another world. It’s my favorite way to unplug and relax. In fact, I often declare digital detox weekends (or afternoons) and head off to the woods, secret cabin or back porch with a pile of books and magazines, looking forward to hours in my hammock. I also love libraries and would be broke without them. Amidst this holiday season when the activities are endless, the weather is cooler and the stimulation is abundant there is no better time to take time and give yourself a mental break than by squeezing in some reading.

Here are some books that I read this fall that I truly enjoyed:

Milkman by Anna Burns

This is the one that won the Man Booker Prize this year. I just fell in love with the Burns’ voice. How could so much be told and understood just through the intimate description of inner turmoil? If you like plot driven stories, don’t read this. But if you want to get inside the mind of a teenage girl that just wants to be normal, even when normal is war torn Ireland in the 1970’s, then give it a shot. Sprinkled with subtle humor, the novel is filled with beautiful passages that you can just read over and over again. The ingenious use of vocabulary had me reading parts of it out loud.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

This was a finalist for the Man Booker prize this year. It starts as many short stories, but stick with it because eventually they all get woven together. This novel has me now looking at trees in whole different way. While I have always loved and respected nature, I now see all flora communicating for the vitality of the planet. It also highlighted the similarities between digital networks and natural networks. Which do we need for survival? Which do we choose for survival? Is the choice ours to make?

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

I feel obliged to mention this one even though it’s a children’s book. I read many other adult books but after having read The Overstory, I pulled this one off the shelf to reread it. It was a book we read out loud in my family as children and I have read it out loud to my own children. A young boy runs off to live in the Catskills on his own with not much more than a pocket knife. Talk about a true Boy Scout. His story of survival and resilience while living in harmony with nature will inspire anyone of any age. Would my children welcome and survive a similar environment? What skills am I giving them to face the world?

How Children Thrive: the Practical Science of Raising Independent, Resilient and Happy Kids by Mark Bertin, MD

I picked this up at the International Conference on ADHD after having attended two of Bertin’s sessions. An expert on mindfulness and child development, his latest book presents the newest science on brain development combined with practical strategies for parents. He covers executive function skills that parents can model to facilitate the daily challenges of living with young children and teens. Some of it seems like common sense but Bertin explains why children’s brains need these skills and structures to thrive.

S.E.X.: The all-you-need-to-know sexuality guide to get you through your teens and twenties by Heather Corinna

Full disclosure- I am neither in my teens or my twenties. I found this book in the resource section of Peggy Orenstein’s website (Don’t Call Me Princess) and bought it for my daughter. I had to proofread it first and now I want everyone (male and female) to read it too. I so wish this book had existed when I was “coming of age”. (It sure beats Judy Blume’s Are you There God? It’s me Margaret and The Joy of Sex stolen from my parents’ nightstand.) I love that this book is written with current language for young people, addressing sexuality in an all inclusive way. I love that it spends a lot of time discussing claiming your own sexuality, how to create healthy relationships, knowing when you are ready for sex, consent and how to respect limits and boundaries. This book will prepare you for conversations necessary in today’s world.

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