Book 4: Parents, Teens, and Boundaries

I haven’t found very many books on parenting teens, but Parents, Teens, and Boundaries by Jane Bluestein may be the only one I’ll ever need. This book really meshes well with the attachment parenting/gentle parenting I embraced when my kids were young. I’ve been a little bit lost trying to figure out how that philosophy should play out with older kids, but this book, while not calling it by those names, describes what I see as being respectful, gentle parenting. It talks about letting go of your kids, not letting their problems become your problems, being a guide and mentor while allowing our kids to make mistakes. Above all, it’s about building up your relationship with your kids without tearing them down. Very easy to read with short chapters and questions at the end of each to help you think about ways you can put the excellent advice into practice at home.


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Bleak House read-along

I am unofficially joining this read-along at Unputdownables. I’m reading Dickens this year, and this is definitely on my list. I don’t want to sign up officially, because I’m not sure how great I’ll be at blogging weekly. But I would like to read what other people have to say, and I like having weekly goals.

At the moment I’m reading the e-book at Project Gutenberg. I am really grateful for this site, as it makes books available at a moment’s notice, and when I decided I wanted to participate in this read-along, I didn’t want to wait for the library to open tomorrow to get started. However, I am going to try and pick up a copy at the library so I can have one to drag along with me wherever I go. I really need to get a Kindle or a Nook.

Ah, I changed my mind. I think I am going to officially sign up. We’ll see how I do!


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Book 3: What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures is a compilation of essays that Malcolm Gladwell wrote for The New Yorker. Gladwell is full of fascinating facts, but along with that he is a wonderful storyteller. In this book, he explores such questions as why there are many different varieties of mustard but really only one ketchup, the history of hair dye and the womens’ movement, and why mammography may not be as reliable as we want to think it is. His chapter on Cesar Millan’s work with dogs had fascinating information about body language and inspired my husband and me to start watching The Dog Whisperer. It has become one of our favorite shows. The chapter on birth control and how we think about it was very enlightening.

If for no other reason, I’m glad I picked up this book for the chapter on “late bloomers.” Being in my 40s and just now realizing that I have more potential than I ever dreamed, it was encouraging and inspiring to read about other people who didn’t find success until their 50s or even 60s. I’ve always been interested in writing, and especially in music, and yet I’ve never felt like I’m good enough to really do anything with it. Reading about artist Cezanne and how he never felt good enough until he was much older made me think that my success could still be ahead of me. Maybe I wasn’t good enough in my 20s, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never be good enough. As Gladwell puts it, “The Cezannes of the world bloom late not as a result of some defect in character, or distraction, or lack of ambition, but because the kind of creativity that proceeds through trial and error necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition.”

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Cannery Row and Understood Betsy.

I have finally finished some books for 2012! I have others in progress, and many that I’ve started and given up. I don’t know what my problem is this year!

Book #1 isCannery Row, by John Steinbeck. It is really a series of stories about a community of people whose lives intertwine. These are people who who struggle with loneliness, vices, and poverty but who are never in despair. The situations and characters are humorous and very, very human. In spite of the poverty and issues such as alcoholism and prostitution, this book is not nearly as bleak as some of Steinbeck’s other works.

Book #2 is Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. I read this to my daughter, who is the same age as Betsy was in the story. Betsy is a wonderful role model, who at the beginning of the story is unsure of herself and is never allowed to do anything by her nervous aunts but by the end has figured out that she can do more than she ever dreamed. Betsy is strong, resourceful, courageous and kind. A wonderful read-aloud for a 9- or 10-year-old girl.

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Well-Educated Mind Complete list

This list is from I didn’t have a copy of the book at the time I posted this, so I just did a search for a list and copied and pasted. This is just for my own reference. I will cross them off as I read them. There are several here that I’ve read quite a bit of, but I only crossed them off if I finished them (I’ve read the Psalms, and sometimes in KJV, but never all the way through in KJV). Unfortunately, I’m afraid One Hundred Years of Solitude will never be crossed off. Nobody’s perfect.

I’m also highlighting the ones I want to try and read this year.


2000 Epic of Gilgamesh Ferry Poetry
800 Iliad Homer Lattimore Poetry
800 Odyssey Homer Lattimore Poetry
600 Greek Lyrics Lattimore Poetry
458 Agamemnon Aeschylus Drama
450 Oedipus Rex Sophocles Drama
441 Histories Herodotus History
431 Medea Euripedes Drama
400 Birds Aristophanes Drama
400 Peloponnesian War Thucydides History
375 Republic Plato History
330 Poetics Aristotle Drama
65 Odes Horace Poetry


100 Lives Plutarch History

Medieval Times

400 Confessions Augustine Fitzgerald Autobio
426 City of God Augustine History
731 Ecclesiastical History of the English People Bede History
1000 Beowulf Poetry
1300 Inferno Poetry
1300’s Everyman Drama
1350 Sir Gawain & the Green Knight Poetry
1386 Canterbury Tales Chaucer Poetry
1430 The Book of Margery Kempe Autobio
1513 Prince Machiavelli History
1516 Utopia Sir Thomas More History
1564 Sonnets Shakespeare Poetry
1580 Essays Montaigne Autobio
1588 Life of Teresa of Avila Autobio
1588 Doctor Faustus Marlowe Drama
1592 Richard III Shakespeare Drama
1594 Midsummer’s Nights Dream Shakespeare Drama
1600 Hamlet Shakespeare Drama
1600 Poems Donne Poetry

Early Modern (1600-1850)

1605 Don Quixote Cervantes Penguin Novel
1611 Psalms KJV Poetry
1667 Paradise Lost Milton Poetry
1641 Meditations Descartes Autobio
1666 Grace Abounding Bunyon Autobio
1669 Tartuffe Moliere Drama
1679 Pilgrim’s Progress Bunyon Novel
1682 Narrative of Captivity & Restoration Rowlandson Autobio
1690 True End Civil Government Locke History
1700 Way of the World Congreve Drama
1726 Gulliver’s Travels Swift Novel
1754 History of England, V.5 Hume History
1757 Songs of Innocence and Experience Blake Dover Poetry
1762 Social Contract Rousseau History
1781 Confessions Rousseau Autobio
1776 Common Sense Paine Dover History
1776 Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire Gibbon Wormsley History
1777 School of Scandal Sheridan Drama
1791 Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Autobio
1792 Vindication of the Rights of Women Wollstonecraft History
1798 Lyrical Ballads Wordsworth, Cooleridge Poetry
Poems Wordsworth, Cooleridge Poetry
1813 Pride & Prejudice Austen Novel
1819 Odes & Poems Keats Poetry
Longfellow Poetry
Tennyson Poetry
Whitman Poetry
1835 Democracy in America Tocqueville History
1838 Oliver Twist Dickens Novel
1847 Jane Eyre Bronte Novel
1848 The Comunist Manifesto Marx Engel History
1850 The Scarlet Letter Hawthorne Novel

Modern History (1850 to present)
1850- 1866 Dickenson Poetry
Rosetti Poetry
1851 Moby-Dick Melville Novel
1851 Uncle Tom’s Cabin Stowe Novel
1854 Walden Thoreau Autobiography
1857 Madame Bovary Flaubert Novel
1860 Civilization of Renaissance Burckhardt History
1861 Slave Girl Jacobs Autobiography
1866 Crime & Punishment Dostoyevsky Novel
1872 Dunbar Poetry
1877 Anna Karenina Tolstoy Novel
1878 Return of the Native Hardy Novel
1878 Sandburg Poetry
1879 Doll’s House Ibsen Drama
1881 Life & Times of Frederick Douglas Autobiography
1881 The Portrait of a Lady James Novel
1883 Williams Poetry
1884 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Twain Novel
1895 The Red Badge of Courage Crane Novel
1899 Importance of Being Earnest Wilde Drama
1901 Up From Slavery Washington Autobiography
1902 Heart of Darkness Conrad Novel
1902 Hughes Poetry
1903 Souls of Black Folk DuBois History
1904 Cherry Orchard Chekov Drama
1904 The Protestant Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism Weber History
1905 House of Mirth Wharton Novel
1907 Auden Poetry
1908 Ecce Homo Nietzsche Autobio
1913 Poems Frost Poetry
1921 Queen Victoria Stachey History
1922 Larkin Poetry
1924 St. Joan Shaw Drama
1925 Mein Kampf Hitler Autobiography
The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald Novel
Mrs. Dolloway Woolf Novel
The Trial Kafka Novel
1926 Ginsberg Poetry
1929 An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth Gandhi Autobiography
1932 Plath Poetry
1933 Yeats Poetry
Auto of Alice B. Toklas Stein Autobio
1934 Strand Poetry
Rich Poetry
1935 Murder in Cathedral T.S. Eliot Drama
1937 Wigan Pier Orwell History
1938 Our Town Wilder Drama
1939 Heany Poetry
The New England Mind Miller History
1940 Long Day’s Journey into Night O’Neill Drama
Native Son Wright Novel DONE
Pinsky Poetry
Surprised by Joy (1955) C.S. Lewis Autobio
1942 Stranger Camus Novel
1944 No Exit Sartre Drama
1947 A Streetcar Named Desire Williams Drama
1947 Kenyon Poetry
1948 Seven Story Mountain Merton Autobio
1949 1984 Orwell Novel
Death of a Salesman Miller Drama
1952 Invisible Man Ellison Novel
Waiting for Godot Beckett Drama
Dove Poetry
1955 The Great Crash Galbraith History
1956 Seize the Day Bellow Novel
1959 The Longest Day Ryan History
1960 A Man for All Seasons Bolt Drama
1963 The Feminine Mystique Frieden History
1965 The Autobiography of + Malcolm X Autobio
1967 One Hundred Years of Solitude Marquez Novel
Rosencrantz & Guildenstein Stoppard Drama
1972 If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler Calvino Novel
1973 Journal of Solitude Sarton Autobiography
Gulag Archipelago Solzhenitsyn Autobiography
1974 Roll, Jordan, Roll Genovese History
1977 Born Again Colson Autobiography
Song of Solomon Morrison Novel
1978 Distant Mirror Tuchman History
1982 Hunger of Memory Rodriguez Autobiography
1985 White Noise Delillo Novel
1987 All the President’s Men Woodward & Bernstein History
1988 Battle Cry of Freedom McPherson History
1989 Road from Coorain Conway Autobiography
1990 Possession Byatt Novel
1992 The End of History & the Last Man Fukuyama History
1995 All Rivers Run to the Sea Wiesel Autobiography


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Already behind for 2012

I haven’t even finished one book yet. I started One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I hoped would be one to check off several of those “You’ve-Gotta-Read-This-Before-You-Die” lists (including The Well-Educated Mind, which I’m trying to read through), and I’m giving it up. There are just too many other books I want to read. I thought I would love it — I tend to love books that follow a family for several generations, sagas about civilizations (like some of Ken Follet’s books), and I love both fantasy and realism. I guess I don’t enjoy books that don’t make it clear what they are supposed to be. I can’t say exactly what it was about this book that made me give it up.

So since I’m behind, I decided to spend this week reading some shorter books I have on hand. Before our trip to the Bahamas, which we took right after my last post, my husband checked out several books from the library. Some of them seem interesting, so I’ll try and rip through those this week. Here is what I have:

Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures. Malcolm Gladwell is probably my husband’s favorite author, and he is always reading blurbs to me. I have enjoyed those blurbs, so I’m going to read this one for myself.

Ford County, a book of short stories by John Grisham.

The Family Fang about parents who are performance artists and make their kids a part of their project. It looks quirky and interesting.

I’m also reading Macbeth for Literary Odyssey’s Shakespeare Reading Month challenge. I’ve already started this.

That should get me caught up.

Also for January, I’m planning to start Oliver Twist for my goal of reading Dickens this year. It is also on The Well-Educated Mind list and will count for that and for the 12 classics in 12 months challenge.

For the rest of the year, these books are on my list:
In January, the following Shakespeare plays:

Throughout the year, the following Dickens books (my goal is one per month):
The aforementioned Oliver Twist
David Copperfield
A Child’s History of England
Great Expectations
Bleak House
The Pickwick Papers
The Old Curiosity Shop
Our Mutual Friend
Nicholas Nickelby
Little Dorrit
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
For December, his various Christmas-themed short stories.

Four plays by Sophocles, for the Greek Classics Challenge at Howling Frog Books:
Oedipus the King
Oedipus at Colonus

Walden, which has been on my shelf for years.
Adam Beade by George Eliot. My mom got me this for Christmas one year. I was about halfway through it and then got swept up in something else and never came back to it. I can’t for the life of me figure out why I didn’t.
For fun, more of The Coffeehouse Mysteries and The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries.
Parnassus On Wheels and its sequel, The Haunted Bookshop. I just found these when getting the link for the Haunted Bookshop series (different author, different century), and they look like my cup o’ joe. On the list they go!
A biography of Dickens. Don’t know which one yet. There are a multitude. I’ll have to read some reviews.
A biography of Shakespeare, and maybe a history of Elizabethan England.
A biography of Jane Austen, because I just don’t want to be done with her yet. And maybe something more general about the culture of which she wrote.
(For those last three, suggestions are welcome.)

That still leaves plenty of room for other discoveries. I’ll include books I read to the kids, as long as they’re fairly substantial (they usually are) and I haven’t read them within the last ten years or more than once. Right now I’m reading Understood Betsy to Megan and That Glorious Cause to Zach. Other read-alouds on my list for the year are:

(for Megan)
The Great Brain
The Pyridian Chronicles
The Twenty-One Balloons
Bud, Not Buddy
The Chronicles of Narnia
Let the Circle Be Unbroken
The Watsons Go to Birmingham
Paddle-To-the-Sea, Minn of the Mississippi, A Tree In the Trail and other Holling books

For Zach (yes, I still read aloud to my almost-14-year-old, although he is perfectly capable of reading and comprehending college-level material, which I attribute to the fact that I still read aloud to him):
Fahrenheit 451. We enjoyed Something Wicked This Way Comes, so I think he’d like some more Bradbury.
The Invisible Man (the H.G. Wells one)
Whatever Shaara books we can find. We have The Last Full Measure and Gods and Generals here that we haven’t read yet.
The Hiding Place
Watership Down Gosh, this was one of my FAVORITES when I was his age. I’m nervous that he won’t love it. I hope he does! I think this one will be next, as soon as we’re done with That Glorious Cause
The Return of the King

I was going to put Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet In Heaven on this list, but I think I’ll allow dh to share those with him. Mitch Albom is another of his favorites. Besides, I can’t include them in my list of 52, since I’ve read them more than once and within the last 10 years.

I’m still taking part in The Well-Educated Mind challenge, the 12 Classics in 12 Months challenge, and the Read Around the Globe challenge. Many of my books listed above count towards those, and I’ll list them as I complete them. I’m also reading through the Bible again following a one-year plan.


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Not another book survey.

This was one from 52 books. My husband laughs because I do love a good survey!

1. Did you reach the goal of 52 books or did you manage to beat your own personal best? I hope to reach it by the end of the week. We will be in the car driving to Miami on Friday and Saturday, so I’ll have some good long stretches to read!

2. What book are you ending the year with? Persuasion, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Search for Significance, and something else SHORT! I hope I’ll make it!

3. Did you discover a new author or genre? Did you love them or hate them? I really enjoyed the two new cozy mystery series books that I found — The Haunted Bookshop and The Coffeehouse Mystery series. I also really loved Anna Quindlen.

4. Did you challenge yourself to read more non fiction if prefer fiction or more fiction if you prefer non fiction? I didn’t, but I would like to read more nonfiction in 2012.

5. Did you read from a list or wing it? I read from The Well-Trained Mind for some of my books, but mostly I (winged it? wung it?).

6. How many classics did you read? What did you think of the writing style or author? It’s hard to figure out what counts as a classic, but I think once I’m done with Persuasion it will be 12. Here they are:
* A Tale of Two Cities
* Sense and Sensibility
* Pride and Prejudice
* Emma
* Mansfield Park
* Northanger Abbey
* Persuasion
* The Old Man and the Sea
* The Great Gatsby
* Little Women
* Treasure Island
* Alice In Wonderland

Books I’m not sure count as classics but very well could:
* Night
* The Great Divorce
* Till We Have Faces
* Something Wicked This Way Comes
* Anne of Green Gables
* Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
* The Two Towers
* Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

7. Name one book that you thought you’d never read and was pleasantly surprised you like it.
* Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

8. What are your top ten favorite books?
* A Tale of Two Cities
* Little Women
* Sense and Sensibility
* Pride and Prejudice
* Families Where Grace Is In Place
* Emma
* How To Read the Bible for All Its Worth
* The Help
* Forgotten God
* The Great Divorce
* The Two Towers

9. What are your ten least favorite books?
* The Great Gatsby
* The Mailbox
* The Covenant
* Last Light
* Night Light
* Till We Have Faces (I liked it, but out of what I read it was down toward the bottom).
* The Reluctant Prophet
* Treasure Island
* Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
* Prodigal Summer

Again, I really did like some of the above books — especially those towards the bottom of the list. I enjoyed reading Five Little Peppers and How They Grew with Megan. But if I have to pick ten, I guess that’s it.

10. Did you start any books that you just simply couldn’t finish?
*Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. I just wasn’t getting it.

11. What did you think of the mini challenges and did you join in or complete any?
* Jane Austen — LOVED it!!! I knew I would love Jane Austen, but I needed the challenge to prod me to read her.
* Armchair Traveler — It was fun to keep track of where the books took place. Places I went:
* Botswana
* England, over and over again.
* France
* Cuba
* Austria
* Middle Earth
* Heaven
* Hell
* California
* Pennsylvania Dutch country
* New York
* Massachusetts
* Mississippi

* 12 Classics — I do love the classics. I have always had a fondness for 19th century literature.
* The Well-Educated Mind — I didn’t read as much from the list as the challenge called for. I hope to do more next year. The only books I ended up reading were Pride and Prejudice and The Great Gatsby.

12. Did your family join in on the fun? My kids started, and my daughter even wrote one blog post. I don’t think my son wrote any at all. They weren’t all that enthusiastic to begin with.

13. How many books have you added to your wishlist since the beginning of the year?

14. What was your favorite thing about the challenge?
*Getting to know other readers, stretching myself to read more challenging books.


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