Saturday, January 26, 2008

2008 Reading Challenge -- Part 1

Inspired by Besomami and other blogging friends, I'm joining the 2008 Book Challenge. I've read quite a few books so far in 2008. Stay tuned tomorrow for a second installment.

Book #1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- J.K. Rowling

I had to wait until now to read this because Garden Girl and I (mostly Garden Girl) have been reading the entire series aloud to Sprout, age 8. I was very, very patient through volumes 1-6, reading a chapter or two each night, but once the pace picked up, I could not put The Deathly Hallows down, and so spent all of New Year's Day curled up with Harry and company.

Book #2

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk -- Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

This book about communicating with children crosses my path every few years, and each time I am struck anew by its wisdom and usefulness. I happened to be struggling with a difficult policy issue when I read it this time, and discovered that Faber and Mazlish's approach works as well for children as it does for adults. One nugget, particularly useful in my line of work, "Instead of explanation and logic, give a child his wishes in fantasy."

Instead of This:
Explanation and Logic

Child: I want my Toast Crunchies!
Mom: We don't have any dear.
Child: I want them! I want them!
Mom: I just told you there aren't any in the house.
Mom: Have some Nifty Crispies.
Child: NO! (throws himself on floor)
Mom: Now you're acting like a baby.

Try This:
Give the Child His Wishes in Fantasy

Child: I want my Toast Crunchies!
Mom: I wish I had some in the house for you.
Child: I want them!
Mom: I hear how much you want them.
Child: I wish I had them now.
Mom: I wish I had the magic power to make a giant box appear.
Child: Well, maybe I'll have some Nifty Crispies.

(Believe it or not, this technique transformed an emotionally charged policy debate from a shouting match to something resembling civil discourse.)

Book #3

Our World -- Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver's partner Molly Malone Cook was a noted photographer and gallery owner whose death inspired Mary Oliver's most recent poetry collection, Thirst. In Our World, Cook's photos and Oliver's prose are joined in a beautiful tribute to their long and loving relationship.

Book #4

The Nine -- Jeffrey Toobin

OK, I'm a Supreme Court nerd. I read most of this book in one sitting. Jeffrey Toobin recounts the end of the Rehnquist court and the beginning of the Roberts court with deft portraits of the justices and a lucid account of how this branch of government functions -- or doesn't. It's worth reading just for Toobin's account of the court's 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore, which changed the course of our nation's history and diminished the stature of the court in the eyes of the country and the world. No other book has convinced me more completely that the 2008 election will determine the fate of liberal ideals for the next fifty years.