My Child Is Not Naughty! [A Review]

Positive Parenting, by Rebecca Eanes

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I learnt a few things from this book.

One, I have to start from myself if I want to have a positive relationship with my child. I probably know this already, but I certainly don’t practise it enough, and I’m glad Eanes has chosen to remind parents how important this is. There are two chapters dedicated to this topic, and one of them talks more about how a positive, loving and strong relationship with one’s spouse needs to be one of the starting points too.

Two, we need to see things from the child’s perspective. No child is born scheming, manipulative or conniving. When a kid throws a tantrum or whines, she’s not trying to manipulate us. It’s usually a cry for help, be it emotionally or physically, and we as adults need to take the initiative to connect with the child and find out the reason for the misbehavior. I know this sounds crazy when you’re at your wits’ end trying to deal with a screaming two-year-old, but I tried it on my daughter two nights ago when she was in one of her “naughty” moods, and while it was not a total success, I did manage to calm down both of us more quickly than usual.

Three, positive parenting is not permissive parenting. Limits and boundaries must still be held. It’s my approach and intent that needs to be changed. The author teaches how one can turn a punishment moment into a problem-solving one, and I intend to try it as soon as I get the chance. (In case you’re wondering, nope, I’m not hoping for my kid to misbehave anytime soon, but I’m sure I won’t need to wait long.)

I like how Eanes always concludes each chapter with a list of questions, a summary of the key points described, and some tips on how to start. Plus, this is a rather thin book, and can be finished in one seating easily. I don’t need the long theories that come with some of the parenting books that’s out there, and I’m glad Eanes simply goes straight to the point and refers us to other relevant books if we want to learn more about the detailed theories or research. It’s the implementation that’s going to be tough.

VERDICT: If you’re trying to restore some peace at home but don’t have the time to read through tomes of parenting manuals, this book might offer some useful tips. But bear in mind that the tips do not guarantee immediate results, because they require a shift in mindset and approach, which is necessary in the long run and not necessarily easy.

For those who want to know more about the book, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:

Popular parenting blogger Rebecca Eanes believes that parenting advice should be about more than just getting kids to behave. Struggling to maintain a meaningful connection with her two little ones and frustrated by the lack of emotionally aware books for parents, she began to share her own insights with readers online. Her following has grown into a thriving community–hundreds of thousands strong. In this eagerly anticipated guide, Eanes shares her hard-won wisdom for overcoming limiting thought patterns and recognizing emotional triggers, as well as advice for connecting with kids at each stage, from infancy to adolescence. This heartfelt, insightful advice comes not from an “expert,” but from a learning, evolving parent. Filled with practical, solution-oriented advice, this is an empowering guide for any parent who longs to end the yelling, power struggles, and downward spiral of acting out, punishment, resentment, and shame–and instead foster an emotional connection that helps kids learn self-discipline, feel confident, and create lasting, loving bonds.”

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Love and Technology – Who’s Game? [A Review]

Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari

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I enjoyed this book more for the writer’s witty prose than its content, because I was constantly wondering about whether I was learning anything new from it.

I’m glad that Ansari did a better job with his conclusion, because that’s where he summarized the key learning points he derived from his research, interviews and personal experience, and I must say that a lot of it makes sense, bringing greater clarity to what he had tried to show with the data and anecdotes throughout the book.

I also really like the fact that he used his personal experience to either support or debunk theories he gleaned from his interviews and readings, and his stand about the need to avoid adopting an extreme position towards the pros and cons that technology has brought to people seeking love in this era of SMSes, e-matchmaking and endless sea of social media platforms.

The only word of caution I have for anyone who’s thinking of trying this book, whether it’s for its informative or entertainment value, is that you have to bear in mind this is a book written by a stand-up comedian, so be prepared for some wacky comments here and there. Some folks may not be able to accept them for what they are – silly jokes. 

VERDICT: This book is probably good enough for someone looking to have a broad understanding of how many people look for love, and how most view relationships today. It might even offer some tips on how one can make the best use of technology to make friends and find a partner. Just remember not to take some of the writer’s comments too seriously.

For those who want to know more about the book, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:

People today have more romantic options than at any point in human history, and thanks to social media, smartphones and online dating, our abilities to connect with these options are staggering. Yet we also have to face new and absurd dilemmas, such as what to think when someone doesn’t reply to your text but has time to post a photo of a pizza on Instagram. But this transformation of our romantic lives cannot be explained by technology alone. Whereas once most people would find a decent person who probably lived in their neighbourhood and marry by the age of 23, today we spend years of our lives on a quest to find our soulmate. While Ansari has long aimed his comedic insight at modern relationships, here he teamed up with award-winning sociologist Eric Klinenberg to research dating cultures from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Paris, crunch the quantitative data and interview some of the world’s leading social scientists. The result is an unforgettable tour of the romantic landscape.

What Makes A Life Worth Living? [A Review]

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi

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This is another book that you shouldn’t read in public, especially the second half of the memoir. Even now, I’m struggling to find the words that will describe what I’m feeling.

Maybe it’s got to do with the fact that I’m soon reaching my fourth decade in life, or maybe it’s because I now have a child, or maybe it’s due to my observation of how much my parents have aged in recent years. I find myself thinking about mortality and trying to find meaning in life more often these days. And the book has given me even more food for thought on this.

It probably helped that the writer was a neurosurgeon, a patient and a keen writer at the same time, which made the memoir all the more powerful. Plus, I had just finished reading Me Before You, and thoughts about the morality of euthanasia are still fresh in my mind.

During a casual lunch the other day, I asked my colleagues whether it would be worse to continue to have a sharp mind while one’s body fails by the day, or to have a failing mind with a healthy body. I didn’t get an answer, and I think it’s because both are equally too horrifying to imagine.

What makes a life worth living? I will be thinking about this for a while.

VERDICT: If you’re going through a rough patch in life, this book will probably help to shift your perspectives, hopefully in a good way. As Paul Kalanithi quoted a few times in the book, “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”

For those who want to know more about the book, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:

For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question “What makes a life worth living?” At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. “When Breath Becomes Air” chronicles Kalanithi s transformation from a naive medical student possessed, as he wrote, by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

This Is More Than A Love Story [A Review]

Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

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It took me a while to pick up this book, because I’ve never been a fan of romance novels, and all the synopses and reviews told me this WAS a romance novel. I finally decided to give it a read because of the hype it has received so far, and the fact that it made it to the big screen must mean something. Right?

I took two days to finish the book. Mind you, this is breakneck speed for me these days, what with work, kid and house chores. And I found myself having to tear myself away from the book in between so I could settle my real life first before returning to it. 

Yes, this is a love story, but I think it’s also more than a story about two people falling in love. It’s also about a parent’s love for his/her child, about a person’s right to make his/her own choices, and about the moral arguments for euthanasia. 

I’m not sure if I will read the sequel (yup, there’s already one – After You) because sequels tend to spoil the original story for me, but I may just watch the movie.

VERDICT: Don’t read this in public, especially the ending, because you won’t be able to hold back the emotions this book is likely to evoke.

For those who want to know a little about the story line, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Boy, I’m So Glad I’m Human [A Review]

Inheritance, Inheritance Cycle Book 4 by Christopher Paolini

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It’s over at last, after almost two months and four books. Yet, I still can’t decide whether I like the story.

This last installment is by far the most action-packed, fast-paced and entertaining in the series. And I like the fact that Paolini decided to give the dragons and Riders some future at the end.

The conclusion was a tad too long-winded though. Well, I know Eragon had a few things to settle and wrap up, but after all the excitement from the preceding events and the great battle, the last couple of chapters were like a boring anti-climax. Plus, I sort of regretted that the ending was a sad one, albeit a necessary and believable one.

I’m actually glad that my prediction about Roran becoming a Rider was wrong, because he had a happy ending, unlike his poor cousin Eragon, who had to eventually leave his loved ones for the good of everyone. (I hope I’m not giving away too much here.) Roran is officially my favourite character in the story, and I’m so glad Paolini created such a powerful human character.

Finally, I’m having mixed feelings about how Eragon won the battle with Galbatorix, because it can feel corny to some, and yet clever to others. I think I’m stuck somewhere in between.

VERDICT: This is not the best I’ve read in my limited exposure to fantasy series, but if you’re looking for entertainment in the tradition of epic fantasies complete with elves, dwarves, trolls and dragons, it is quite a good read. Just don’t over-analyze the characters and the plausibility of their decisions and actions.

For those who want to know a little about the story line, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:

Not so very long ago, Eragon Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders. Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chances. The Rider and his dragon have come further than anyone dared to hope. But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaësia? And if so, at what cost? This is the much-anticipated, astonishing conclusion to the worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle.