Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Reviews

Since moving I have had the time to read many more books than I was able to in Texas. I have read four books since arriving in Saudi...I think I was able to read 2 maybe 3 all of last year!

Here is my review of the books (minus one) that I have read thus far....and if you have suggestions on other books I should read next please let me know....

All decent parents want to do what's best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua's iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, her way-the Chinese way-and the remarkable results her choice inspires. Here are some things Amy Chua would never allow her daughters to do: have a play date, not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama, play any instrument other than the piano or violin, not play the piano or violin. The truth is Lulu and Sophia would never have had time for a play date. They were too busy practicing their instruments (two to three hours a day and double sessions on the weekend) and perfecting their Mandarin.

I purchased this book because I saw the author on the Today Show defending her parenting style and addressing all of the negative comments being thrown at her because of how she chose to raise her parents. While on the Today Show she reminded people that the book was never meant to be a "how to parent your kids" or even suggest that her parenting was better. While watching the interview I got curious and bought the book. Then I found out we were moving, had Graham and moved and didn't get around to reading. Once I started I finished in about two days. Yes, if you read it intending to get advice on parenting, you will probably be outraged. BUT if you read it for what it was meant to be, an account of one mom's journey through parenting and her decision to apply a stricter non Western style of parenting on her girls and see the benefits and consequences of that decision, it is a good read. It was very interesting and at times I could understand some of the benefits of her style. A good, thought provoking read on the challenges of parenting no matter what style you chose and how not every child can be parented the same (even in the same family).

Growing up in California in the 1920s, Louie was a hellraiser, stealing everything edible that he could carry, staging elaborate pranks, getting in fistfights, and bedeviling the local police. But as a teenager, he emerged as one of the greatest runners America had ever seen, competing at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he put on a sensational performance, crossed paths with Hitler, and stole a German flag right off the Reich Chancellery. He was preparing for the 1940 Olympics, and closing in on the fabled four-minute mile, when World War II began. Louie joined the Army Air Corps, becoming a bombardier. Stationed on Oahu, he survived harrowing combat, including an epic air battle that ended when his plane crash-landed, some six hundred holes in its fuselage and half the crew seriously wounded. On a May afternoon in 1943, Louie took off on a search mission for a lost plane. Somewhere over the Pacific, the engines on his bomber failed. The plane plummeted into the sea, leaving Louie and two other men stranded on a tiny raft. Drifting for weeks and thousands of miles, they endured starvation and desperate thirst, sharks that leapt aboard the raft, trying to drag them off, a machine-gun attack from a Japanese bomber, and a typhoon with waves some forty feet high. At last, they spotted an island. As they rowed toward it, unbeknownst to them, a Japanese military boat was lurking nearby. Louie’s journey had only just begun. That first conversation with Louie was a pivot point in my life. Fascinated by his experiences, and the mystery of how a man could overcome so much, I began a seven-year journey through his story. I found it in diaries, letters and unpublished memoirs; in the memories of his family and friends, fellow Olympians, former American airmen and Japanese veterans; in forgotten papers in archives as far-flung as Oslo and Canberra. Along the way, there were staggering surprises, and Louie’s unlikely, inspiring story came alive for me. It is a tale of daring, defiance, persistence, ingenuity, and the ferocious will of a man who refused to be broken.

Unbroken was an amazing book. I read it two days. I couldn't put it down and it was such a well written account of a man's story through growing up, running track at the Olympics, going to WW II, being shot down and stranded at sea for days, being captured and his life as a POW in Japan, his rescue, life after the war and ultimately his redemption in Christ and how he spent his life serving God out of gratitude and realization of his ultimate need for a Savior. Great book!

Pink and pretty or predatory and hardened, sexualized girlhood influences our daughters from infancy onward, telling them that how a girl looks matters more than who she is. Somewhere between the exhilarating rise of Girl Power in the 1990s and today, the pursuit of physical perfection has been recast as a source—the source—of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages. But, realistically, how many times can you say no when your daughter begs for a pint-size wedding gown or the latest Hannah Montana CD? And how dangerous is pink and pretty anyway—especially given girls' successes in the classroom and on the playing field? Being a princess is just make-believe, after all; eventually they grow out of it. Or do they? Does playing Cinderella shield girls from early sexualization—or prime them for it? Could today's little princess become tomorrow's sexting teen? And what if she does? Would that make her in charge of her sexuality—or an unwitting captive to it? Those questions hit home with Peggy Orenstein, so she went sleuthing. She visited Disneyland and the international toy fair, trolled American Girl Place and Pottery Barn Kids, and met beauty pageant parents with preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. She dissected the science, created an online avatar, and parsed the original fairy tales. The stakes turn out to be higher than she—or we—ever imagined: nothing less than the health, development, and futures of our girls. From premature sexualization to the risk of depression to rising rates of narcissism, the potential negative impact of this new girlie-girl culture is undeniable—yet armed with awareness and recognition, parents can effectively counterbalance its influence in their daughters' lives.

The moment the doctor told us we were having a girl I was scared. I wanted a boy so badly because I was scared of raising a girl in the world that we live in. Then when Peyton was born and has developed her own personality, one which is more drawn to boyish toys/movies, I am determined to try and protect her and allow her to grow up in her own way and own time. Yes, I know that she is God's child and ultimately I need to trust and rely on Him but it is my job to parent her and He gave her to me to guide, teach and protect as much as I can.

Anyways.....I loved this book. I didn't agree with everything (especially her views on premarital sex) but I did appreciate the insight into marketing, selling products to girls, the trends in how makeup, clothing etc have changed. It is a must read for parents of girls to truly understand all the forces pulling at our girls and how what seems as an innocent princess toy/book/movie sometimes is safe as it seems. I am not saying ban princesses but it does make you think about what your toddler is watching, emulating and what you as a parent might be innocently pushing on her.

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