Category Archives: Books & Reading

What we’re reading in May

So….it’s still May for a few more hours.

This month I treated myself to a book I’ve been wanting to read for quite some time. It’s come highly recommended all over the place, and I’ve wished for it here and here hoping someone might get the hint. Nobody did. So I finally bought Amy Poehler’s Yes Please for myself to bring on vacation to Florida:

Amy Poehler's Yes Please

It was a heavy book to bring along, but whatever. We weren’t exactly packing light, anyway.

And would you believe that I actually found the time to read? Spending all of that time in our condo for Boo’s naps afforded me the time to sit out on the balcony and read, while sipping juice (a beer or rum punch would have probably been far more satisfying, but alas…..pregnant). At night, while the hubby put on terrible reality shows like River Monsters, I read some more. It felt great.

And the book? It’s actually a rather strange book…but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It’s part memoir, part advice column, part comedy act, and part something I can’t quite put my finger on. I discovered there’s much more to Amy Poehler than SNL and Parks and Recreation (which I kind of knew already since I’d discovered Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls), but this book helped pin that down.

Part of that “something” was her motto for women, in general: “Good for her! Not for me.” No matter your choice – to have children or not, how to have your children, how to feed your children, how to raise your children, whether to work or not, etc., there’s no need for comparison. “Good for her! Not for me.”

In the book Amy comes across as genuine, mostly down to earth, intelligent, and funny.

It was a great and easy read.

Sandra Boynton's The Going to Bed Book

Boo has (finally?) started to lose interest in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Don’t get me wrong – he still loves it – but he’s added a few new books to our rotation, including Sandra Boynton’s The Going to Bed Book. It’s a cute, and (very) short read, which makes it a perfect bedtime story, that leaves us both satisfied.

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What we’re reading in March

This month Boo has continued to adore The Very Hungry Caterpillar…it’s still a (several times) daily read, and is usually included among his bedtime stories. He loves it. What struck me about his (other) book selections this month, though, was that he’s added an old favourite of mine – The Monster at the End of This Book:

The Monster at the End of this Book

I’m not entirely certain that he “gets” it, but he certainly enjoys listening to me read it. Of course I get all frustrated as Grover gets frustrated. I whisper when Grover whispers. I raise my voice when Grover raises his voice. I include facial expressions and hand gestures. Reading it has become a whole “to do” which my Boo clearly enjoys.

I suspect he’s also made the connection between the Grover in the book to the Grover we listen to on Google Play (I almost always have a Sesame Street album playing in the background during meals, or when we’re playing indoors), adding an element of familiarity to the character (he’s already made these connections for Elmo, Oscar, Cookie Monster and Big Bird).

As for me…there’s a bit of background behind my March selection:

Not too long ago a friend of mine started reading the Fifty Shades trilogy – and was providing small progress updates on Facebook. One of her most memorable comments was something along the lines of “…every time I read it, I can’t wait for my husband to get home…” which I shared with my husband, thinking he’d get a laugh out of it. He did.

He also went ahead and ordered the trilogy for me.

Fifty Shades of Grey

So this past month I’ve been reading the first (and most famous) instalment – Fifty Shades of Grey – which I actually just finished last night. It was….not exactly what I expected. When I initially started reading my husband asked how it was, and I remember saying something like “…there’s not a lot of sex in this sex book.” * I was expecting more. A lot more. Instead there’s lots and lots of story that somewhat mirrors its inspiration, Twilight.

Like Twilight, the main character has absolutely no sense of self worth, and is always doubting and putting herself down. It gets tired. What also gets tired pretty quickly is the constant references to her subconscious and “inner goddess” (reflecting her super-ego and id?) as a way to describe how she’s feeling – which is generally always excited for sex (her id) or critical of herself (her super-ego). So yes…she has low self-esteem that is only ever elevated when she sees herself reflected through Christian Grey’s eyes.

So on to Christian Grey. What really struck me about his character was that he was…familiar. In fact, I’d venture to say that I made up an almost identical character when I was 12 (minus the BDSM tendencies). He is exactly how you’d expect a woman to create a fictional “perfect man with a terrible secret/past/whatever”. He is completely unrealistic. And his circumstances in the book are just preposterous. Just what a 12 year old girl would come up with.

That being said…I did finish reading the book. And since I already have the following two books from the trilogy, I expect I’ll read them as well. Just like the Twilight Saga (which I’m almost ashamed to admit I read in its entirety), it’s kind of like a car crash…you can’t help but look.

* Some of you may be wondering – have I found the book at all titillating, considering its reputation? Not overly. The sex scenes aren’t particularly graphic, focusing more on the heroine’s groaning and moaning and feelings of desire which constantly seem to be “washing over her” blah blah blah. My generally conclusion? She comes way too easily ;)

** Also, to anyone who has thoroughly enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey (especially my above-referenced friend – you know who you are) – I applaud your ability to escape into the book and to just enjoy the ride…I kinda wish I could jump on the bandwagon too and have fun with it. I think maybe because of all the hype surrounding it, or its similarities to Twilight (which I wasn’t that fond of) I’m not able to read it without a critical or comparative eye. Or, maybe it’s just not my thing.

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What we’re reading in February

I’ve been trying to make a point of reading more, because it feels like this is a part of my life that is seriously lacking at the moment. I miss reading. Like, actually sitting down and reading a whole book. Let me clarify – of reading a whole book meant for adults, as opposed to one geared towards those just as likely to chew on, as read, it. And let me clarify once more – I’m referring to books whose subject matter is something other than how to rear/feed/train/etc. that child who may, or may not, chew on books.

Which isn’t to say that I’m actually getting a lot read these days…but I am putting aside a little time before bed a few nights a week to read anywhere from a few pages to a few chapters. And it feels good. Real good.

The Tao of Martha

This past month I’ve been reading The Tao of Martha – the latest book in what’s become a pretty sizeable series of memoirs by Jen Lancaster (I believe there’s actually another one coming out in May). Effectively, the books follow her day-to-day life beginning when she lost her job in the dot-com bust, and eventually focusing in on “projects” – like getting fit, growing up, or – in this particular book – attempting to live a year inspired by Martha Stewart. Nothing particularly cataclysmic or amazing happens in any of them…but she’s funny. Sometimes laugh out loud funny. And that’s often just what I need.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

What I am guaranteed to read at least once every day (and usually far more often) is Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I know the story by heart now, and can “read” it to Boo wherever he happens to be in his room flipping through the pages. Depending on his speed I’ll sometimes make an adjustment or two to the story, so that I can keep up…usually it’s an abridged version, but there has been the odd time when I’ve elaborated on a page or two. We have the large format version of the board book, so it’s quite amusing to watch as Boo tries to manipulate it…and how he always always always points at all the junk food the caterpillar ate on Saturday!

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Sesame Street (Book) Jackpot

As mentioned before (here and here), I love Sesame Street. I don’t get tired of it (except maybe for the Noodle Story….I could do without hearing that one over and over again).

So I’m more than happy to force allow Boo to listen to their albums, watch the occasional clip on TV or my iPad, or to read him Sesame Street stories. In fact, he’s getting a whole pile of Sesame Street themed birthday presents….it kind of just worked out that way, so we’re going with it (and I now realize I have less than two weeks to craft my low frills, but still a Sesame Street themed, first birthday party decorations and bake either an Elmo or Cookie Monster cake….or maybe both….but I digress).

Last week while visiting my folks my mom and I went to the Shangri-La that is the Kemptville Salvation Army (I’ve mentioned them previously here). While their toy section seemed a little emptier than usual (all you parents…this is where your children’s daycares and schools are getting toys…it’s gotta be related to back to school), I spent some time perusing their several shelves of books and BEHOLD:

Sesame Street Books

…I hit the Sesame Street book jackpot!

Eleven books in all, including 8 from a series of very cool On my way with Sesame Street books that are still a little (okay, a lot) too old for Boo. But at 80¢ apiece I felt justified buying them now and throwing them on a shelf until later. I will most definitely be keeping my eyes open for more in this wonderful little series.

Monster Hall of Fame illustration

Each book is filled with stories, each illustrated in its own style.

Super Grover illustration

All of our favourite (classic) Sesame Street characters are featured.

Parent's Guide

At the beginning of each volume there’s a parents’ guide that elaborates on the theme of the book, and how you can delve deeper with your little one.

And just to prove that I’m not totally obsessed with just Sesame Street, I picked up two other gems:

Mary Had A Little Jam by Bruce Lansky

Mary Had A Little Jam takes classic nursery rhymes and either adds a modern twist, or just turns them on their head. Super cute!
I can’t wait until Boo is old enough to appreciate these.

Old Mother Hubbard by Bruce Lansky

How cute is that?

Caramba by Marie-Louise Gay

By the same author as Stella, this award winning book about a cat that can’t fly was given for free to first grader back in 2005 (by TD).

Detail from Caramba

Love love love the illustrations.

I realize, of course, that I should probably just be buying board books at this point, but I can’t help it. I want Boo to have a wonderful and varied library, which means I have to keep my eyes open now for any and all book-ish treasures that he can enjoy immediately, or eventually.

What books would you recommend as “must haves” for any well-rounded child’s library?

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Blog Stalking

As a new(ish) mom I’ve had lots of opportunities to read. And by read, I mean that I have lots of small snippets of time to read articles posted to Facebook, and short blog posts.

To be completely honest, there’s very little time for actual books, and admittedly I don’t have enough concentration to follow plot lines if I’m only able to read a page or two at a time. Old me – who used to read about a book a week – would be very very disappointed in mummy me. But to hell with old me. She had so much time on her hands, she barely knew what to do with it. Who needs classic literature anyway? And honestly…do I really need to read Pride & Prejudice again? I’ll leave my umpteenth reading for when the baby’s in university.

So, while I’m nursing Boo, half-watching Boo play with his many many toys, helping Boo fall asleep, taking a little “me time” on my throne (yes….that’s prime time for scrolling through my RSS reader), or shortly before I fall into bed, I “read”.

Boo playing in a crate

Here are a few of the blogs I’m currently stalking:

A Cup of Jo
Joanna Goddard blogs about her life in NYC, style, makeup, relationships, recipes, motherhood, and more. She’s got two cuties, one of whom had a birthday photo submitted to Reasons My Son Is Crying (they sang the happy birthday song to him). Last year she started an amazing series of posts about motherhood in other countries. So so good. Hers is also the only blog that has ever made me all out cry. I’m talking blubbering with tears streaming down my face at about 3am while nursing the little one. Oof.

Elycia
Elycia is a fellow Canadian who used to blog a lot about her hair, her clothes, her cats, her thrifty finds, etc. Then she had a baby and now she mostly blogs about him, family, and her 365 project (going on her 2nd year….totally impressive). I enjoy being a bit of a voyeur into her little man’s life (and his wardrobe…he wears everything I wish I could buy/find for Boo)….plus I like her “blog voice”.

enJOY it by Elise Blaha Cripe
Elise makes things like it’s her job (note: it is her job)….and she’s kind of my blogger crush. She crafts in multiple mediums, sells her work online, blogs about it, blogs about being a small business owner, podcasts about it all, and on top of it still blogs about her life and her beautiful little girl. I love pretty much everything about this blog. This one is a must must read for me.

Love Taza | Rockstar Diaries
I don’t think I’ve ever seen two more photogenic children than Samson and Eleanor. They are the cutest little things to behold in this photo-heavy blog written by their mama Naomi, about living as a family in New York City (and going on lots of family visits out west). I love reading about their adventures, seeing the many many pictures, and coveting the whole family’s style. So great. A little less great is the lack of any capitalization whatsoever. Drives me a little batty.

Operation Tubetop
I believe Tova, the author of this blog, is (at the very least) Facebook friends with one of my Facebook friends. Some comment or other showed up in my newsfeed, I got intrigued, moseyed on over to take a look, and got hooked. Tova is a Canadian living in Vienna with her husband and son. Of all the blogs I read, hers is the most like an actual diary. It’s very real, sometimes almost stream of consciousness, and I like it because of that.

the ugly volvo
Written and illustrated (!) by a comedian and mother. It makes me laugh. Enough said.

So that’s my top 6 at the moment. What are your current favourite blogs? Any I should check out? Please share!

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