Friday, June 24, 2011

The Happiest Mom - Meagan Francis

I hate martyrs. So, a book attemptin to convince mothers (and all parents) to stop being martyrs is right up my alley. Francis's thesis is that motherhood has swung from something we were all supposed to pretend was the most fulfilling thing in the world (resulting in The Yellow Wallpaper) to something now that everyone complains on blogs about as contributing to their need to imbibe multiple glasses of wine each evening. Francis believes there has to be something in the middle - a place where we love and cherish our children, but where we also have time to go to the movies with our friends, read, and do everything we did in our pre-children lives. She encourages mothers to put their own needs first, and to cut back on overscheduling their children - because often less really is more. I have no idea what Francis's background is - other than the fact that she is a parent - so she doesn't offer any kind of deep psychological analysis or purport to be an expert on anything - but she does have some great ideas. Mostly, this book serves as a good reminder that even though children change our lives, they don't necessarily have to ruin them - and those who choose to see the world that way have no one to blame but themselves.

Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat - Naomi Moriyama

In the past couple months, my husband, mother, and I have vowed to start eating better. To that end, we've tried to cut down on meat - and explored many vegetarian and vegan options. This new world has also awakened in me my desire to cook more often. I've looked high and low for inspiration, and while browsing the cook books at the library, I came across this book. I don't particularly like the title, but it appeared to be about a Japanese woman in America who returned to Japan to learn to cook from her mother - in the hopes of regaining her health. The book is about the Japanese love of food - but their ability to enjoy the best and freshest ingredients, appease their hunger, remain thin, and live long and happy lives. Moriyama was a bit repetitive in her writing - using the same phrases and anecdotes multiple times throughout the book, but I did appreciate her inclusion of various recipes that can be made fairly easily. One night, she inspired me to cook spicy beans and tofu, along with a ground beef and egg recipe. Both were delicious, and gave me something new and relatively healthy to serve my family. While there was nothing earth-shattering in this book, it was a good reminder that to enjoy food doesn't necessarily mean to be a glutton, and that everything in moderation is a good thing to remember.

Bossypants - Tina Fey

I am so behind on updating this blog that I've nearly forgotten what the last few books I've read are about - but perhaps this will be a good test, and we'll see just how memorable the books actually were...I think Tina Fey is quite funny - I enjoyed her on SNL and I regularly watch her on 30 Rock. But, I do find her jokes a bit hit or miss - I'm either rewinding and laughing over and over, or I'm shaking my head because I just don't get it (I suppose fans of her would say that I'm probably not intellectually savvy enough to understand all the nuances of her humor). Whatever the case, I felt about her book the same way I feel about her television - there were chapters here I found hilarious, and others made me think that she needed a better editor. All in all, Bossypants is a book I've recommended to a number of people as good plane reading. But, I will say there is a good deal of politics in this book - and Fey isn't just trying to be funny in it - she is sending a message about the power of women - how they are viewed in the entertainment/comedy world, and how they should be viewed. She has some great things to say about parenthood too. Mostly, this book reinforced the respect I have for her - for being such a fabulous success (not just "for a woman") and for still coming across as real. Funny and thought-provoking - just what you'd expect from a good clean liberal.