More selective reading reviews

An Ocean of Air by Gabrielle Walker – One of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in a while! This fascinating history of science as it relates to air is well-written, intriguing, and very educational. Gabrielle Walker is a good storyteller and makes the scientific discoveries related to air, wind, etc., accessible and interesting. I could almost explain in one try how wind worked to Steve after reading the book (although Steve did not comment on whether or not it was comprehensible…).

Eating in the Dark by Kathleen Hart – Everything you wanted to know about bio-engineered foods and the scary and sometimes infuriating events that have resulted in unlabeled, genetically modified foods entering the American food stream. At times I thought the author was reiterating points she had already made, but overall the book definitely elicited a reaction from me and convinced me even more that I want to buy as much organic as I can. If you, like me, like to read books about food issues, add this one to your list. This book was published a few years ago; I’m curious what the state of affairs is now, but I haven’t tried looking much into it on my own.

Watching Baseball Smarter by Zack Hample – Steve and I read this one out loud together, although at times we had to peruse the charts, diagrams, and illustrations separately. Goes over all you ever wanted to know about baseball – and probably a bit more – including lots of fun trivia such as “why are baseball players always adjusting their crotch, anyway?”

Vegetable Harvest by Patricia Wells – This cookbook had beautiful pictures and I liked the concept of using vegetables in-season, but the recipes were a bit inaccessible (read, “fancy”) for this home cook. I ended up not trying any.

The Strayed Sheep of Charun by John Maddox Roberts – Roberts’ first novel (I think), this science fiction novel is set in a time when different religions have “claimed” different planetary systems while being able to coexist in relative peace. However, the powers that be have discovered a planet that was cut off for a long time and descended into moral chaos. Two Catholic missionaries go to the planet to try to start converting the people – one from the bottom up, the other from the top down – and the book follows their efforts. I’m not really doing the plot justice, but I found this book an interesting read!

Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson – I was skeptical about this “prequel” to Anne of Green Gables having been burned one too many times with “Pride and Prejudice” sequel attempts, and was delightfully surprised by this pleasingly substantial book, which answers many questions including how an orphaned girl was able to be so literate and sensitive given the harshness of her upbringing. Budge Wilson’s “Anne” is fun to get to know and feasibly related to the timeless Anne of L.M. Montgomery’s imagination.

Bright From the Start by Jill Stamm – Jill Stamm knows all about brain development, so her book is all about how you can optimize your child’s development starting from the early months. But it’s not about rigorous exercises, special toys and videos, or intensive programs. The best thing you can do for your baby is to engage with him or her with lots of face-to-face interaction, fun games, and safe opportunities for exploration and growth (with a healthy dose of “downtime”). Specific “games” and activities are suggested and the book also explains how they fit in with brain development and future educational and social skills. I thought this was a very interesting book (since I have a 3-month old!) and appreciated the blend of old-fashioned child-raising principles (e.g. lots of love and time, which does not require lots of money) with a contemporary scientific foundation.

Great Kids by Stanley Greenspan – After reading Bright From the Start, this one (also culled from the “New Books” shelf) was a little disappointing in comparison – maybe because it’s not very relevant to me yet. Basically, ten qualities of “great kids” (and “great people,” for that matter) are discussed, and a few ideas for how you can encourage those qualities from babyhood through adolescence are presented. I think some of the sample dialogs might be helpful or inspirational… perhaps. There wasn’t anything specific that was particularly new or surprising to me, however.

With a bookmark: (Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

  • Death of an Addict by M.C. Beaton
  • Kitchen Mysteries by Herve This
  • A Guinea Pig’s History of Biology by Jim Endersby
  • Sacred Attitudes by Erica Ross-Krieger
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

In the library book box:

  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • The Queen of Bedlam by Robert McCammon
  • Speaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon
  • Photographing Your Family by Joel Sartore
  • Kodak: The Art of Digital Photography by Joseph Meehan
  • Death of a Dustman by M.C. Beaton

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