February 2017 Book List

February turned out to be kind of a light month for reading. I’m not really sure why, but I suspect “Victoria” may have been a factor…

Well, here’s what I did finish.

Image result for reading a book on the beach free picture
Gods in Alabama-I started this while we were on our trip to Florida thinking it would be something light, and it sort of was. While the overall subject matter ( a personal tragedy of a teenage girl growing up in small-town Alabama and how it influenced her adult relationships) was on the heavier side, the writing was funny and light, and even insightful at times. I’ve started one other book by Joshilyn Jackson and abandoned it, but decided to give this a try anyway. I think it would make a good easy read for vacation or the pool, but if you are highly sensitive, this may not be a light read for you. It may have some strong emotional triggers as well.
Today Will Be Different-“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” was near the top of my favorites list from last year, so I was eager to read more by Maria Semple. I really loved “Today Will Be Different,” as well for many of the same reasons. Semple is hilarious and dry and writes motherhood so honestly and well. Her character development is really impressive….you go on quite a journey with her female protagonists and they turn out to be not at all who you thought they were in the first few chapters. This is a particularly poignant sister story as well.
Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him-The subtitle says it all for this book. I enjoy reading parenting theories and methods, but I don’t always make it through entire books. This one was very different because it is written in alternating voices by Sally and her son, Nathan, who is now a successful adult. Nathan was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Oppositional Defiance Disorder as a child, and this is their story and reflection on his childhood. They are very honest about some difficult periods for both of them, but also share a lot of information about what worked well to manage Nathan’s behavior but also, so importantly, to improve his quality of life. This is the missing link in a lot of books for me. There is a lot of focus on managing behavior and improving the parent’s life, which, arguably, also improves the child’s life. However, I really appreciated Sally’s perspective on looking at the WHY/root cause of Nathan’s behavior and feelings, and how their family could accommodate and offer appropriate replacement behaviors when necessary. I highly recommend this for anyone with a challenging child, for whatever reason, even if he or she does not have letters assigned to them.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis-This book has received a lot of press lately because it was named by the NYT as one of the “6 Books to Help Understand Trump’s Win.” That was a factor in why I wanted to read this, but I was also curious and hoping to understand more about poverty and America’s working class. Charlie and I started this as an audiobook on our road trip but had to abandon it quickly because little pitchers have big ears and the hillbillies in this story swear quite a bit. I finished it on my own eventually and really loved it. The first part is interesting just as a family story, but Vance does not leave many breadcrumbs early on to his later success. Charlie’s big question after listening for awhile was, “Ok, so this guy went to Yale, but what has he actually done of merit in his life?” I think Vance may have done this intentionally, but it is a little maddening so-spoiler alert- after growing up in a very unstable, poor home, Vance enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2012. His description of how the USMC changed his life and self-worth is the real meat of his story, and it is fantastic. He also champions for educational reform and placing a higher value on military service, vocational, and on-the-job training programs as alternatives to college-a cause very near and dear to Charlie and I both (RJP Memorial Fund).
Ok, that’s it for me this month. What are you guys reading? What have you loved recently?