book report: chapter 3 (march)

I ended last year with some very specific goals for myself in 2015. One of those goals was to read more. Instead of waiting until the end of the year to make one gigantic list, I am going to post a monthly book report of what I’ve been reading. And instead of just listing the titles, I wanted to give my two cents while the books were still fresh on my mind.

a title here

This Is Your Do-Over (Ruizen)

This book has been a game-changer for me. There was a lot of information in this book but the author took a few chapters at the outset to give a little “mini-medical school” so readers would have some context for his ideas. All of the book’s suggestions are common sense but having the scientific hard data to back them up made wanting to implement the ideas that much more concrete for me. I’ve been walking 10,000 steps a day (or getting darn close) every day since the end of February when I first picked up the book!

A Thousand Never Evers (Burg)

Having studied the Civil War (and slavery, and injustice) during our history unit in the fall of last year, I was curious to see what the kids made of this audio-book. Set in Mississippi during the Civil Rights movement, it really baffled my kids that as few as 50 years ago, there was still such division among black people and white people in the South. After all the Civil War had been over for nearly 100 years by the 1960s. I think they’ve never known a world with such segregation (in the Army there are all races and people are people). This story held my kids’ attention very well. In fact, there were times we’d pull into the garage and they’d beg me to not turn off the engine so they could hear just a little more of Addie Ann’s story. This story is full of suspense (possible murder), blame, community and eventual justice and redemption. Much discussion ensued about the value of a human life, no matter the color of the person’s skin.

Summer versus School (Pedersen)

Despite the fact that my own children left traditional public schools over four years ago, I am still intrigued by educational reform in America. (For one, it further confirms my choice to homeschool). This book was an interesting read. It gave a historical perspective on why schools have long-held a lengthy summer vacation. An antiquated reasoning for sure, it seems as though there are many, many reasons now to NOT take a long summer break. I’ll be honest, when I taught school, having summers off was a major perk. However, now that my educational philosophy has evolved, this is kind of a moot point. Our learning isn’t confined to a school calendar. We live a learning lifestyle all day, every day. I’m curious whether actual classroom teachers have read this study or have a strong opinion one way or another.

Rewire Your Anxious Brain (Pittman)

Whoa Nelly! This book was a major eye-opener for me. As someone who has dealt with (sometimes) plaguing anxiety, reading the neuroscience behind the madness opened up a whole new world to me. For those who are fortunate enough NOT to deal with anxiety, admonitions of just quit worrying or quit thinking about it are actions that are literally impossible. Anxiety is a chemical response and I finally now understand the different roles of the amygdala and cortex. I usually don’t quote from the book or Amazon, but this information is too good to leave out. If you deal with anxiety, I HIGHLY recommend this book.

“In the book, you will learn how the amygdala and cortex (both important parts of the brain) are essential players in the neuropsychology of anxiety. The amygdala acts as a primal response, and oftentimes, when this part of the brain processes fear, you may not even understand why you are afraid. By comparison, the cortex is the center of “worry.” That is, obsessing, ruminating, and dwelling on things that may or may not happen. In the book, Pittman and Karle make it simple by offering specific examples of how to manage fear by tapping into both of these pathways in the brain.
As you read, you’ll gain a greater understanding how anxiety is created in the brain, and as a result, you will feel empowered and motivated to overcome it. The brain is a powerful tool, and the more you work to change the way you respond to fear, the more resilient you will become. Using the practical self-assessments and proven-effective techniques in this book, you will learn to literally “rewire” the brain processes that lie at the root of your fears.” {Amazon.com}
Ironically, I actually dream of one day working at a library. I’m kind of a wannabe when I see the librarians poised at the information desk. I also checked this book out from our public library (where I visit at least once or twice a week). This book, (oh my word!!!) is a collection of true interactions between librarians and their patrons. There’s an entire website devoted to this phenomenon. I’m nothing if not a student of human comedy. And I was laughing so hard while I read this one night, Ryan literally almost kicked me out of bed. I couldn’t stop laughing. I was almost crying and continued to leak outbursts of laughter with each anecdote. I may buy my own copy of this. I mean, mercy!

Finding Casey (Mapson)

 I am a huge lover of regional fiction. However, for most of my adult life, I have been content to find most books set in a Southern region. (That will always be my first love.) However, I came across Jo-Ann Mapson (recommended by Jodi Picoult, whom I don’t particularly care for as her books are a little too heart-wrenching for my taste). Mason writes most of her stories in either Central-Coastal California or the southwest. Finding Casey was set in Santa Fe and I really enjoyed the book, partly because I have now traveled to and lived near that region. “A love story, a family story, a story of searching and the bond between sisters, Finding Casey is a testament to human resilience.”

Better Than Before (Rubin)

I never read Rubin’s Happiness Project but now I think I’ll have to track it down. Better Than Before deals with the heart and soul of habits in our lives. I have already been reading on the topic as I have dedicated this year to making some big personal changes. Rubin makes it so fun to learn about ourselves, our tendencies, and how we have the power to change. She presents habits from a scientific perspective only minimally. The meat of the book is full of personal anecdotes and “this worked or didn’t work for me.” After reading this book, I feel even more energized with hope that change is truly possible. Rubin gives readers a vocabulary for that change.
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