Tag Archives: nonfiction

Infant Sleep, Part IV: The No-Cry Sleep Solution

I wish I could say that The No-Cry Sleep Solution solved all our sleep problems and we now sleep a peaceful and uninterrupted eight hours every night, while our daughter–now 18 months–sleeps for ten. Unfortunately, that is not the case. But we’ve made some progress from the days when I used to spend about half our nights sleeping on the guest bed with the baby because she woke every time I put her in her crib. Among other signs of improvement, she now takes a consistent daily nap–two to three hours–and I don’t have to rock her for an hour to get her to fall asleep.

I also can’t say how much of this progress is due to Elizabeth Pantley’s advice. But her book is worth perusing by any parent who wants to get more sleep. Above all, I appreciate Pantley because she acknowledges that every child is different and doesn’t expect parents to follow a one-size-fits-all plan. Continue reading

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Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Greg Mortenson didn’t set out to be a hero. Shortly before he stumbled into a mountain village in northern Pakistan, he was wandering around on K2 trying to save his own life. Out of gratitude to the villagers who took him in following his climbing expedition gone awry, he promised to come back and build them a much-needed school.

And he did–return, that is–but his first heroic mission almost ended in disaster. I won’t supply the details, because it’s a bit of a cliff hanger as Mortenson relates the story in the book. But since Mortenson has gone on to build hundreds more schools (that’s the reason Three Cups of Tea was written), it’s safe to tell you that the school did get built, eventually, and that’s how it all got started. Continue reading

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Campaigning for Punctuation

I was in the middle of one depressing novel and four books of nonfiction, and I needed some entertainment. So I turned to a book on–what else?–punctuation. If you’ve kept an eye on the bestseller lists at all over the past few years, you’ll have guessed that I picked up Eats, Shoots & Leaves by British author Lynne Truss. Continue reading

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Little Boats & Big Salmon: Fishing Adventures in Alaska

Fishing has never held exceptional allure for me. My grandparents frequently took me fishing during my childhood visits to Texas, and I found the novelty exciting. But as an adult I have never felt compelled to pack up my gear and head for the nearest fishing hole. So it wasn’t the subject matter of Erv Jensen’s book that attracted me. But in my ten years of acquaintance with my husband’s Uncle Erv, I too have come to regard him with respect and affection, and it seemed appropriate for a niece-in-law with a book blog to read and review Uncle Erv’s memoir. After all, there’s precedent for the topic to inspire great literary works, as demonstrated by Isaak Walton’s 17th-century classic The Compleat Angler (which I likewise have not read). I therefore dutifully embarked on Little Boats & Big Salmon, little suspecting I would be drawn in (and hooked) by the Alaska life, the fishermen’s banter, and mooching.

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, Part II

Barbara Kingsolver ranks high on my list of authors with whom I would love to have a lengthy chat (along with Diana Abu Jaber and Khaled Hosseini). Besides the fact that I admire her literary artistry, I am intrigued by Kingsolver’s spiritual and religious views. I tend, for example, to think Nathan Price in The Poisonwood Bible so deranged that Kingsolver could not have intended anyone to take him seriously as representative of evangelical missionaries. … But does this character suggest Kingsolver perceives missionaries or evangelicals generally in a negative light?

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Kingsolver frequently references her rural childhood and observes that many of the small farmers she writes about are probably church-goers (though she mentions appreciatively that they keep their religion to themselves) (204-05). I assume Kingsolver, having grown up in such an environment herself, had a fair amount of exposure to Christian spirituality, if not from her family, at least from her neighbors. Regardless, she is now an evangelist for evolution, with a graduate degree in evolutionary biology. Continue reading

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, Part I

Barbara Kingsolver is #74 on the list of America’s most dangerous people, according to the author of a recent well-publicized book cited in Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (p. 236). I’m not sure how Kingsolver earned her stripes in that author’s opinion, but I would agree that her linguistic artistry, self-deprecating humor, and winsome enthusiasm for her cause impart a formidable ability to win converts to just about any position.Well, maybe not any. Actually, I was already in at least theoretical sympathy with Kingsolver’s commitment to local, organic food, so I didn’t need much convincing, but Kingsolver’s treatise broadened my understanding and deepened my convictions. (I just bought some bean and pepper plants for a nascent garden on the balcony of our condominium. So I’m a little late getting started … at least I’ll get a feel for container gardening.)

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The Carpet Wars, by Christopher Kremmer

I usually am not fond of travel writing, but I found Christopher Kremmer’s work more interesting than some others of that genre that I have encountered. Kremmer’s wry wit accounts for at least part of the entertainment value of The Carpet Wars, even eliciting a few chuckles, a somewhat rare occurrence. (Don’t analyze that last statement–it isn’t meant to indicate anything except my appreciation of Kremmer’s humor.) For example, Kremmer (who does not otherwise give any indication of being particularly religious) relates an incident in which he became exceedingly frustrated with an Afghan taxi driver:

My hand was lifting, drawn up by the power of a psychotic urge to batter him, when suddenly a loud voice rent the sky above the stranded car:
‘Leave him to me!’ cried the voice of the Almighty. ‘For he is a driver and they are a stiff-necked people.’
So I heeded the word of the Lord and let him be (346). Continue reading

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The Bookseller of Kabul, by Asne Seierstad

The Bookseller of Kabul is an outsider’s perspective on the inside world of an Afghan family. Asne Seierstad lived with a family in Kabul—a bookseller’s family—in the spring of 2002, after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. This book is not so much about her experiences as about the family she lived with. Continue reading

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Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder

The long waiting list for Mountains Beyond Mountains required us to wait some time before it became available at the library. But through the first few chapters, we were hard-pressed to identify the reason for the popularity of this biographical account of doctor Paul Farmer (b. 1959). Farmer struck us as arrogant and narcissistic, and we found the voice of Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder flat and journalistic. Continue reading

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What To Expect When You’re Expecting and The Official Lamaze Guide

Years before I became pregnant, a good friend with a one-year-old son gave me a short book titled While Waiting: The Information You Need to Know About Pregnancy, Birth, and Delivery, by George E. Verrilli and Anne Marie Mueser. My friend said, “Read this. Don’t read What To Expect When You’re Expecting. It’s probably a good book, but not for people like us.” What she meant was, not for people prone to guilt, anxiety, and performance orientation. Continue reading

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