A Month in Books: May

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

A Hello Kitty lunch box washes up on the beach of a sleepy little town in British Colombia and is picked up by a woman named Ruth.  Inside she finds the diary of a 16 year old Japanese girl named Nao who writes about her intention to commit suicide.  As her story unravels, Ruth is sucked into trying to solve the mystery of who this girl is (or was), and whether or not she is still alive.  The book switches back and forth between the narrative of the young girl through her diary and Ruth.  The Nao parts of the book are mainly what kept me interested.  For someone who is about to commit suicide, her writing is surprisingly cheerful.  Her words are at once full of naivety and wisdom as only a young high school girl is capable of possessing.  From her pages, we discover a side of Japanese society that is both cruel and ugly, but just when things get too grim to bear, she discovers a love like no other.  Sprinkled with Zen Buddhist riddles and mind-twisting Schrodinger theories of parallel universes, this book is one big trip for your mind.  It’s one of those books that will keep you thinking and bears re-reading.

Positive Discipline: The First Three Years by Jane Nelsen

I love and appreciate my parents, but I know that the way I was raised is not necessarily the way I want to raise Ellie, so where do I even start as a new parent?  I am so glad I found this gem of a parenting book that is built around principles of kindness and empathy and backed by scientific studies.  As I’ve shared in the previous post about toddler tantrums, I have already put some of the tips I’ve learned into practice and it has improved my relationship with my daughter.  The biggest change was in myself.  It changed my attitude towards discipline and how to turn it into a positive learning experience.  This book comprehensively covers everything from building autonomy and confidence in your toddler, to eating, sleeping, screen time, and even special needs.  It’s a really great starting point for a first time mom like myself and it helped me understand my toddler from a developmental point of view.  I highly recommend it.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Every once in a while I come upon an author whose words are so beautiful, poetic, and spell-binding that I find myself no longer rushing to get to the end of the plot but taking my time over every sentence, each one perfectly constructed to shoot straight to the heart.  Reading Anthony Doerr’s All the Lights We Cannot See made me feel that way and now so does Ann Patchett.  In this case, the plot is based loosely on the real 1996 Peru hostage crisis.  Patchett’s words somehow turned this gruesome situation into a achingly beautiful and romantic story.  There is no black and white, right and wrong, just that liminal gray space that we all occupy burdened by our own life stories.  I can’t wait to pick up Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth next because I am not ready to come down from this cloud created by her words.

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