Books, Kids

Recent books/ with kids

In March, I finally finished Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You. I am a big Cal fan, so I was really excited for this one. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was my favorite. It was okay- and I think the big, general takeaways have stuck with me. It definitely made me think differently and question the idea of “following your passion” in order to be happy with our work life (or not- he actually argues we should not worry about doing this- it’s basically the whole premise of the book).

But there was something about the writing style in this one that I found a bit hard to follow. It was like…wordy? In a kind of weird way? It’s hard to explain. Almost like the sentences were longer or contained extra words just for the sake of including extra words. I don’t remember thinking this about Deep Work or Digital Minimalism. It distracted me some from the greater message, though, and I sometimes had to really slow down or re-read parts.

Who knows. I think it was one of his earlier books, so maybe his writing style was still evolving.

I also finished American Dirt, which I did really enjoy! (Keeping fully in mind that it was definitely FICTION, lest anyone think that it was a true, accurate portrayal of life in Mexico and all illegal border crossing, migrant and/or drug cartel experiences. Because, I assure you, NO.) Ivan and I had a pretty great and entertaining discussion about it all on the plane home after I finished it and was telling him about it. 😉

Afterwards, I looked up more about the controversy debate surrounding it (which I had purposefully avoided prior to picking it up- I just wanted to read it, without a bunch of influences in my head). Basically, I felt exhausted after reading just 5 minutes of hot-headed articles and comments, so I just decided to stop thinking about it. In my mind, the book was a thrilling work of fiction with a very captivating writing style that I enjoyed reading. Enough said. 🙂

We also read Where is the Colosseum, Where is the Vatican, Who was Julius Caesar, and Who is Pope Francis? in March. All great! I love the simple yet informative style of those “who was” series books. Even my parents read several on the train to Dublin! Great for any age.

Now that we’re home, I have started a couple new books with the boys. I REALLY REALLY want to keep reading to them/ with them while they will still let me and seem to enjoy it!!! I seriously feel like this can and will drop off at any moment…. but for now, they both still seem to enjoy laying on their bed or my bed and reading together. We have not done that much of it lately, but if I suggest it, they are always game. It obviously helps a lot if we have a book going, because then we all get into it and want to keep reading.

With Ethan, I started this book the other night while Asher was…showering, I think:

It’s a hard cover with short stories about all of the famous classical musicians. Just a few pages about each one, but very interesting. I’m loving it, too, since I know all these guys from my piano playing and orchestra days.

It usually lists several of each composer’s most famous works, so we have been pulling them up on You Tube and listening to them together. It’s been really nice.

With Asher, I started this book last night:

It’s about a memoir by astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent a year at the International Space Station. We’ve only read one chapter so far, but Asher already said, “Wow, this is really good!” My initial impression is that this Scott Kelly is not your average character! Yikes. Even as a kid he was always majorly pushing the envelope, a huge daredevil, fearless. As I was reading some of the insane things he did as a kid, I kept saying, “Okay, but that was clearly a bad idea. You see that, right??” 😆 Lucky the guy lived to make it to space!

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for it staying light out until later in the evenings now!! Asher in particular has a really busy schedule right now, but I think the bright evenings have made it so MUCH easier. He has seemed totally fine and energetic going from one place to the next, no issues, whereas I think if it were dark December, it might be a different story.

7 thoughts on “Recent books/ with kids”

  1. I really never know what to do with books that I enjoy that have a degree of controversy surrounding them. I tend to really get down on myself for enjoying them and then stop recommending them. Ha. I like your “stop thinking about it” approach!


  2. I would love to have a conversation with Ivan about American Dirt and get his take on it! That would be really fascinating for me. If only we lived in the same town and could go out for a drink and chat!

    That musician book sounds interesting. Check out Camille Saint-Saens’s story, if it’s included. We had to do a report on a composer when I was in 4th or 5th grade and that is who I chose to write a report on. His life was so so sad. 😦 And the song I know best by him has a very sad tone/feeling to it, which makes sense after reading about his life.

    The space book sounds interesting. Paul is super into space. That is not something I was exposed to when I was a kid so I don’t know much about it, but Phil does so he can answer more of his questions. He’s been asking us about how the planets rotate/which way they spin on their axis, etc etc and I am just at a loss to answer any of that. Thank goodness for google. 😉

    I was thinking of you last night when we had an awful bedtime with Paul. They let him take a full nap at school yesterday so bedtime was awful as he just wasn’t tired. We started bedtime at 7:30 and we were both in there on and off for 2 hours! It’s usually not like that – it’s usually a 20-30 min process. But last night was terrible and when I was laying there next to him to get him to fall asleep (it was the only thing that worked, we tried everything else – sitting in the rocking chair, leaving the door open and checking on him, etc) I was telling myself “it won’t always be like this. Think of Kae and her boys and how they can put themselves to bed.”


  3. I started and didn’t finish American Dirt partly because of the controversy.
    Like NGS, to quote her above: “tend to really get down on myself for enjoying them and then stop recommending them.”
    I do this with movies, too. I prefer to not offer opinions on things like these and face the wrath (of either side).
    I really liked Digital Minimalism, but all the rest have just been OK for me from Cal Newport…I know there is so much great content, but I also seem to have a hard time with how he mostly portrays men doing deep work, in a way that seemed very in-your-face. Lots of great stuff, but that is just a big annoyance for me. Especially for him personally – all his early morning runs and deep work and how he balances that all with the family his wife mostly tends to! Maybe I’m just sensitive because similar things have happened in our family because of John’s career, but in the book it struck me as so one-sided.
    Wow. I didn’t mean to quasi-rant about Cal so much. Again – some good stuff there’s just something about his tone/case studies that irk me. So much for not offering opinions…haha!


    1. I don’t know, I personally never really feel that way about Cal!! I guess I feel like he talks plenty about being involved with his kids (always sounds like an involved dad), and I think his “deep work” always sounds like it’s mostly just done during the day when kids are in school/ childcare anyway. So I never get too ruffled by that part, bc I don’t really see a huge difference between his schedule and mine. And also on the podcast he references lots of household chores, admin tasks, etc that he does…but who knows, I suppose! Maybe his wife does more of that stuff, although if she doesn’t work/ not fulltime, perhaps that’s the arrangement that works for their family? I don’t actually know if she works. He’s pretty private about her on the show.

      I’m also not really bothered by his male dominant case studies/ guests! Well, I guess at least on the podcast, I feel like at least half of the questions/ callers are female…so I always think there’s a fine balance there. (I think you’re referencing his books maybe having more male examples though?) But in general for some reason it just doesn’t really bother me at all, even if he did have more male examples/ guests/ not an even balance! It’s just not really something I’m personally sensitive to, I guess. I tend to feel like he often pulls in examples and references from people he knows/ works with/ relates with- which makes sense might be more males, because he’s a guy! Just like I interact primarily with female blog readers, or many of the working parent podcasts I listen to lean way toward having female dominated guests only? I don’t know! I can see your points, though! Guess I never really thought about it much til now, honestly! 🙂


      1. Great points, here. I have only listened to his podcast once and am only getting my sense of his “male-bias” from the two books I’ve read. Not a fair characterization of him/his content, to be sure!!!


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