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What I’m Reading

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Tucker reading book Best Games

I’m always on the lookout for good books to read. I read a lot of biographies and memoirs, a fair amount of non-fiction (mostly medical), and a small sprinkling of fiction.

{Instagram photo: littleearthling}

Hezekiah is on page 245 of Jurassic Park and enjoying every page of it. Then in a funny twist of irony, goes to school to read AR books and take AR tests to make sure he understands what he reads. In my opinion, an eight-year-old doesn’t read a 400-page book for fun if he doesn’t understand what he’s reading. On the bright side, the AR tests are great test-taking practice.

So what have I been reading? I’ll tell you.

Critical Decisions: How You and Your Doctor Can Make the Right Medical Choices Together. I would recommend this book to anyone. It is vital that we know how and why medical decisions are made before we have to make them for ourselves. If you have a medically complex family member, it is even more important that you educate yourself.

Did you know that Apollo is his cardiologist’s only patient with a double aortic arch? Not because his cardiologist is inexperienced (he’s not) but because his heart defect is so rare. That means that his information is coming from his medical training, colleagues, and medical research he has access to (which is much more information than I have, obviously). But it also means is not the best person to give us an idea of what life will be like for Apollo as he grows- he has no experience in that particular area. For that information, I have sought out (through the internet) parents of kids with the same defect. I love Apollo’s team of doctors down at Seattle Children’s Hospital and I’ve worked hard to educate myself on every aspect of his health. I’m not afraid to ask his doctors  tough questions, such as “how many patients with this have you treated?”


Through the Glass by Shannon Moroney. How do I even describe this one? Well, I’ll quote the inside of the front cover here:

“When Shannon Moroney married in October of 2005, she had no idea that her happy life as a newlywed was about to come crashing down around her. One month after her wedding, a police officer arrived at her door to tell her that her husband, Jason, had been arrested and charged in [sic] the brutal assault and kidnapping of two women. In the aftermath of these crimes, Shannon dealt with a heavy burden of grief, the stress and publicity of a major criminal investigation, and the painful stigma of guilt-by-association, all while attempting to understand what had made Jason turn to such violence.”

It makes it sound so shocking…what married woman doesn’t read that excerpt and imagine herself in Shannon’s shoes, newly married,  finding out her husband committed such a shocking crime? The book doesn’t quite go that way though…in the very beginning of the book you find out Shannon’s husband was a convicted murderer- and she knew that when he began dating him. And the victim of his first crime was a woman he had a romantic relationship with. He has a clear history of assaulting women. That makes it a little less “shocking” doesn’t it? While Moroney writes this book in a tone that seeks to gain sympathy and show you that anyone could fall victim to this (and something awful must have happened to her husband to make him do this) it struck me as a lesson not to marry someone with a violent, murderous past. Don’t get me wrong, Moroney has my full sympathy for what she suffered, she was just a little too understanding of her husband for my taste.

I may have talked about these next few before, but I’ve just recently reread them and enjoyed them again:

French Kids Eat Everything: How our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking and Discovered 10 Simple Rules For Raising Happy Healthy Eaters.

Raising good eaters is something Chuck and I have managed to accomplish; not by accident but because it was very important to our foundation to our child-rearing.

{Apollo aside in this discussion. Due to his health issues, I now have a “picky” eater on my hands and get to learn from all the advice I’ve administered in the past. Oh, the irony}

If your kids are picky eaters (or you want to avoid them) follow-up that book with:

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. I was amazing at how similarly these two moms (one Canadian and one American) draw the same conclusions about French parenting.

And finally, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. This is another book that I recently re-read. Amy Chu is so very open and honest in her writing despite the uproar she must have known it would cause. I am not worried in the least that any parent is going to read this book and decided to become a Tiger Mother. I believe the value is in taking a good look at how our encourages us to praise our children for mediocre effort and poor work.

Blue Collar Blue Scrubs– This is the second book written by the doctor and author Michael J. Collins. I read his first book Hot Lights Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon’s First Years a few months ago. Blue Collar Blue Scrubs describes how he went from being a ditch digger to surgeon. The first few chapters are a bit off-color and crude at times, but it was worth slogging through that to get to the good stuff. I enjoyed these two books for Collins’ excellent writing and humor. He does a great job of describing the craziness of life as a doctor. Chuck and my older children enjoyed these books as well.

Walk on Water: The Miracle of Saving Children’s Lives– by Michael Ruhlman. This is a book about some of the top pediatric heart surgeons in the world. It follows the stories of a handful of children living with congenital heart defects. I enjoyed the topic of the book and at times the writing was engaging, but at others, the author seemed too wordy and seemed to forget he was writing a book not an essay. I would still recommend this book, it just wasn’t necessarily a real page-turner.

A different Journey: Raising a Child with Down Syndrome by Beatrice Brusic. This book was a memoir of the author raising her Down Syndrome daughter to adulthood. While there are plenty of books on this topic out there, Brusic’s daughter was born in 1980, and let me tell you, the world had an entirely different view of Down Syndrome back then. I really, really enjoyed the first half of this book. After that, Brusic talked more about her dating life than her daughter and she began to lose me a bit. Still, a good read.

Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure by Patricia Ellis Herr. This was a great read. It’s all about Herr and her five-year-old daughter who make it their goal to climb all 48 of New Hampshire’s highest mountains. That description there ought to be enough to make you want to buy the book. And you should. It’s a fun, easy, and most definitely inspiring read.

Hope, Faith, and Charlie: An inspirational journey of a child’s courageous battle with cancer, his family’s fight to save his life, and the blessings that happened along the way by Deirdre Carey. What can I say? A great story of a child and his family as they struggle with cancer.

Heart Warriors: A Family Faces Congenital Heart Disease by Amanda Rose Adams. This was a great read and probably the most in-the-trenches description of life with a child with heart defects. She is a great author and does a great job of describing what life with a sick child is like.


  1. Melissa Knox-Raab

    I love autobiographies. For great and online reading, Mary Antin and Harriet Jacobs are ideal. Have your kids read the Harry Potters and the Narnias? Love all of those. An unusual older book–was my favorite book as a child, because it is about memory, and searching through memory for a lost family–is Elinor Lyons’s RUN AWAY HOME. There are sequels and she wrote other books, but this one is a lovely one. (slightly older–Scottish, too).

  2. Drenna

    The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. A very detailed and compelling nonfiction book. Can hardly put the 600+ page missive down.

  3. Dawn

    I have just finished a series called These Highland Hills. The first book being
    Child of the Mist by Kathleen Morgan. They were nice. Had them on the Kindle to read while waiting at the dentist office.

    • liz

      “Choosing to See” is my favorite book I have read in a very long time. I have NEVER re read a book. I just might start this one again. Very very very good! Not what you think it might be about at all. The way she remembers so much and can describe things in vivid detail is amazing. i am not one of those people so this in itself captivated me.

      • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

        Wow, never read the same book twice? Chuck and I have worn out copies (multiple!) of our favorite books! I read the book when Apollo had his first heart surgery in March. I can’t say its the best written book I’ve ever read, but the story is compelling. I have a friend who’s daughter ran over her little sister just weeks after the Chapman’s tragedy.

      • liz

        wow. I can’t exactly say i’ve read a ton of books. I mean I ahve I guess..just not twice. i have never seen the same movie twice either. My husband thinks that’s a bit odd..i just can’t sit through a movie or book when I know what’s going to happen. The Bible. I have reread passages from Proverbs and Psalms many times. That is about it. I am sorry for your friends loss. I tend to be drawn to books like that. people who have overcome horrific circumstances. I tend to be more of a magazine reader. Thriving family, Adoption magazines…just quicker I guess

  4. Chris

    Glad to hear that Hezekiah is reading Jurassic Park! Those are fun books: Crichton’s science is less than perfect, but he writes excellent page-turners. Do you think Hezekiah is getting enough challenge in school? How are Mordecai and Avi doing in school?

    I read Amy Chua’s book earlier this year. It was an entertaining read, and raised some good points about different parenting styles. I agree with her that most American parents don’t push their children hard enough, and that when most parents praise their children for effort, the child didn’t actually put very much effort in.

    However, there’s a line between pushing your children to excel, and pushing so hard that you push them away (which Chua nearly did with her younger daughter). Additionally, Chua’s focus on results and comparing children, rather than accounting for the effort a child puts into their work, runs into problems when you consider children with developmental or learning disabilities. She frequently compared her daughters in front of them in order to motivate them, but what would she have done if one of them had been born with mental retardation? She speaks lovingly of her youngest sister, Cindy, who has Down Syndrome, and how her mother worked hard to teach Cindy the skills that she would need to live independently.

    In the book, it seems that much of Amy’s parenting style came from her own parents. Did her parents also compare their daughters to each other, in order to get a bit of competitive feeling going? If so, what did they do about Cindy? While her parents might have demanded that Amy be the best in her grade, they couldn’t do the same with Cindy. While it’s not immediately relevant to Amy’s style of parenting her own daughter, I would have loved to see more about her youngest sister in her book, largely because I don’t think that the Asian American community (or Asians in general) talk a lot about learning and developmental disabilities.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Chris- I agree. My tendency is to encourage my children and not push them at all, which is why I suppose I enjoyed the book so much. As far as comparing, I NEVER compare my children to each other. Even my children with special needs have very unique strengths.

      Hezekiah is not challenged at all in math or reading (surprise surprise) nor is Tucker (who has already exceeded first grade standards in both areas). He is however challenged in the areas I haven’t focused on, namely handwriting and writing lengthy paragraphs- something I don’t push until age ten or so. We discussed moving him to 4th grade, but decided to let him be at the top of his class in 3rd and work on writing skills, classroom skills, etc rather than move him. He also happens to be the exact size of Tucker, my first grader, which would likely make him look like a midget in 4th grade! He reads a ton at home and I figure he when he comes back home to homeschool we will simply move him up.

  5. Christine @

    I’m reading Collapse, by Jared Diamond, which explores the factors that have caused societies to collapse through history, with the aim of helping us avoid doing things that will cause our own society to collapse. It’s a very interesting but pretty dense and demanding book.

    Next up, The Secrets of Mariko, which is a book about the everyday life of a real Japanese mother/housewife in the late 1990s. She and her family were interviewed over a period of about a year by an American journalist who was living in Japan at the time. This book comes recommended by my stepmother, who lived in Japan for many years.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Both those books sound great…I think I’ll start the Secrets of Mariko first….I love those types of books.

  6. Heather

    OOO I was all sucked in to Through the Looking Glass, but really…how can you be surprised your husband is a big ole loser if you knew when you met he was a murderer? Kind of doesn’t exactly pack the same punch of the shock and horror of discovering the “normal” guy you loved and married turned out to be a violent criminal. But I suppose that says something ill about me that I’m sucked into the sensationalism of that sort of story.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I agree completely. I figured I was ruining the story since it comes up in the second chapter. The author then spends a good part of the book trying to convince the reader why it was okay to marry him and how she HAD NO IDEA he was capable of such violence!

  7. Rachel

    I’m currently reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It isn’t all that good but I figure I should finish it since I paid for it.

    My 7 year old wants me to read Jurassic Park to him. He is an excellant reader but doesn’t really enjoy it yet (and I’m not sure how to encourage him without pushing him). He loves to be read to, however, so I’m going to roll with that!. Maybe if Hezekiah is enjoying it then Erik will, too.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Hezekiah is fascinated with the dinosaur parts (naturally) he did say he didn’t understand all the science…understandable given he 8!

  8. Ellen

    I recently read “Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and the Journey of a Generation.” I was surprised at how many ways their paths crossed, e.g. before James Taylor married Carly Simon, he had dated Joni Mitchell – and of course since the early years has been collaborating with Carole King. And how many of today’s “music legends” were just a bunch of privileged, spoiled rich kids partying in the 60’s and 70’s . . . almost surprising that they got it together enough to actually produce some great music!

    And I just started reading “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey – the lost legacy of Highclere Castle” – should be interesting to read the history of the inspiration for Masterpiece Theater’s ‘Downton Abbey’!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Girls Like Us sounds interesting…I’ve never seen Downton Abbey- only heard about it on Facebook!

  9. Helen


    Right now I am reading The Covenant by James Michener. It is a long book (1200 odd pages). I am finding it fascinating. Michener seems to have a great way of turning a history book into an enjoyable novel. It is basically a complete overview of the history of South Africa, as seen through the eyes of successive generations of several families, all representing different ethnic groups (Bushmen, Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaners, Whites of British descent). He went to a lot of trouble to research his book and get his facts, descriptions, and general tone right. And you get to see parts of the story from each of their perspectives, which is just what is needed in order to understand a country such as South Africa.

    Obviously it is even more interesting if you have a personal tie to Southern Africa (as I do), but I think it would make a great read even if you don’t.

    Oh, and, um, I live in France, am not French, and have a picky eater. I had better read French Kids eat Everything, because I still don’t know how French people manage to raise their kids the way they do (as well as working, often full time). I can’t let my daughter stay at the school cafeteria for lunch, as they usually have stuff such as shrimps or mushrooms on the menu, and she won’t eat them. Embarrassing…

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Sounds fascinating, I’ve read quite a bit of historical fiction about South Africa. Thanks for sharing about living in France…did you live there when your daughter was a baby? Have you read Bringing Up Bebe?

      • Helen

        Yes, my husband is French and both my children have lived in France their whole lives. I have not read Bringing up Bebe, but I would be interested in reading it.
        However I also see the unpleasant side of French parenting, and am not sure I could be a French Maman. I’m sure there are interesting/helpful aspects to their parenting, but the overall image I get is not something I want to imitate.
        I guess the other interesting book I read recently might indicate one reason why French parenting doesn’t sit well with me. Dreamer or Strong-willed Child is a very interesting book, especially if you have a child you just don’t seem to “get”. But it also taught me that I am a dreamer cognitive style myself, and the highly directive and stifling way French children are raised doesn’t suit dreamers well at all. So that obviously influences my point of view.

        • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

          Helen- One of the authors (I can’t remember which offhand) made the same comment about not wanting to be a French parent because of their totally authoritarian side. Thanks for responding!

  10. Robyn

    We just finished reading “The Swiss Family Robinson” out loud to our 6 year old. Ripping good story buried in some serious vocabulary, but he soaked it right up. Before that, our most recent read-alouds have been Arthur Ransome’s “Swallows and Amazons” series — stories written in the 1930s about a group of children who sail boats in England’s Lakes District, camp, and have gentle adventures. We’ve read through all the “Little House on the Prairie” books twice now (the second time with the 4 year old listening too).

    6 yo is now reading Jean George’s “My Side of the Mountain”, a story about a teenaged boy who runs away to the Catskill mountains and lives off the land, adopts and trains a peregrine falcon, builds a house in a tree, etc. Great for kids with an interest in the outdoors, camping, and survival stories.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Chuck love Swiss Family Robinson- I hated it. The dad is way too smug and self-righteous…but I bet my kids would love it. We are My Side of the Mountain fans too. We read it aloud a few years ago. I haven’t heard of Arthur Ransome’s…I’ll have to check them out.

      • Robyn

        I, too, found the first couple chapters a bit insufferable, but it gets a lot less preachy and didactic about halfway through. Probably because it was written as a serial 🙂

        The Ransome books were kind of a surprise hit for us — one of the dads at our summer church camp was reading them aloud during the mandatory post-lunch rest hour, and I was surprised William liked them so much. They move pretty slowly, but are rich in details and terminology, if you’ve got a kid who’s into that.

  11. Robyn

    But wait, your kids don’t want reading recommendations, you do. I recently enjoyed Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies”, the first two parts of a trilogy about Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell, his advisor and fixer. I really liked the writing style in “Wolf Hall” especially — very spare, plain prose. A lot happens between the lines. She won the Man Booker Prize for both (Britain’s version of the National Book Award).

  12. Jo

    I just finished Sheepish by Catherine Friend. Excellent, hilarious book! I like fiber art books, either instructional or novel/biography about the lives of people who spin/knit. Naturally I read The Education of Little Tree again last wk, because I read it approximately once a week. we just read the Laura Ingalls series again the last month aloud, and reading an arctic book aloud to the kids now. My son is reading the Artemis Fowl series, he has completed Harry Potter and Eragon series. My daughter still does not want to read anything at all…

  13. Echo

    I just finished The Dressmaker of Khair Kana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. It is the true story of five women living in Afganistan during the Taliban rule. The other book I recently read was The Floor of Heaven by Howard Blum. It is the true story of the Klondike gold rush. You might not love it but it is a great history of the the Northwest.

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