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What I’ve been reading

These are the three books that have inhabited my nightstand lately, and today I’m going to give you all a quick opinion about each of them.


I got 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think from the library, based on MoneySavingMom’s recommendation. I thought it was well-written…a breeze to read, and much more entertaining than some time-management books.

I gleaned some helpful information from it and was reminded of some things I already knew. I like that Vanderkam emphasized spending time on things that you enjoy (I wrote about that in my Don’t Waste Your Leisure post). And I totally agree with her thoughts about TV and how it doesn’t provide a lot of bang for your leisure buck.

On the other hand, I was a little annoyed with Vanderkam’s perspective on a few things. For one, she doesn’t seem to value quality spouse time too highly. That only got a small mention, while work and time with children were covered far more thoroughly. In fact, she recommends having a shorter work day, coming home to spend time with the children, and then putting in a few more hours of work (paid work) after the children go to bed. To me, it seemed like time with the children was being put at a higher priority than spouse time, and I think that’s a mistake.

She also has a very different perspective than I do on the value of staying home. I feel like her thought process is that it’s better to outsource cleaning, cooking, and childcare so that you can spend more hours working, and can spend your free time with your kids (and let it be known, I’m certainly not opposed to quality time with children!)

She cites the fact that most stay at home parents do only spend an hour or two of quality time with their kids each day. That may be true, but I don’t think quality time is all that counts…being there to comfort, encourage, and discipline children all day is all important work too. And involving children in the cooking and cleaning process means that you can get those things done while also spending time with your children (and while not having to outsource those tasks).


I found myself nodding my head most of the way through the book, but then whenever her thoughts on the priority of childcare and marital maintenance came through, I soundly disagreed.


I checked out Cinderella Ate My Daughter from my library after Cate Linden talked about it. Like 168 Hours, it was a well-written, entertaining read, and it didn’t take me long to get through it.

The author comes to the table with a fair number of ideals that I don’t share, but I knew this going into it. Her ideas about womanhood are different than mine, and some of the things she hopes for her daughter are not things I hope for my daughters (like that they will have an active intimate life long before they get married).

Oddly enough, though, we do share a lot of the same thoughts about little girls and what is appropriate and helpful for them and what is decidedly not. For instance, I am opposed to this trend of girls growing older younger (6 year olds now are interested in what 10 year olds used to be interested in a while back), I don’t think girls have be nothing but pink and sparkly (do we really need pink legos? and pink strollers?), I think girls should think and study, I don’t think little girls should be bombarded with sexy role models, toys, and clothes, and I think the girly-girl culture places too much value on appearance and not enough on character.

Fortunately, because my girls are homeschooled and watch very little TV, they haven’t been exposed to a lot of the girly-girl culture, and after reading the book, I felt more and more glad of that. Though my girls do like sparkles and nail polish and such, they’ve whiled away many hours playing with our (primary-colored) duplos and wooden blocks, they love their blessedly-unsexy Calico Critters , and their favorite stuffed animals (Build-A-Bears) are delightfully cute, round, and cuddly.

My girls will grow up soon enough, and I’m glad for the ability to keep them young for a while.


The The Hour that Matters Most: The Surprising Power of the Family Mealis a book that was sent to me for review. It’s written by Les and Leslie Parrott, two psychologists, and two mothers who started a freeze-your-meals business.

I’m already a big fan of cooking and eating a meal together at home every day (hello, big money-saver!), but I still enjoyed reading about this topic. It reinforced my thoughts about how important a shared meal is, and it was interesting to read how many studies linked a variety of benefits to the simple practice of eating dinner together.

The book covers the history of family meals, talks about why you should even bother making a family meal a priority, and offers advice about how to make the table atmosphere pleasant and welcome, how to encourage conversation, and how to use mealtime to instill values and manners in your children (I didn’t agree with all of the parenting advice, but I still found the book to be valuable. Chew up the meat and spit out the bones, I say!)

Also, at the end of every chapter, a make-ahead, freezer-friendly recipe is included (and there’s a picture of each recipe!).

If you’re having trouble feeling inspired enough to make family meals happen at least a couple of times a week, this would be a helpful read for you.


What have YOU been reading lately? And if you’ve read any of these three books, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!


Today’s 365 post: Then and now (I didn’t plan this, but my 365 post today is about reading too!)

Joshua’s 365 post: A Giant and His Counterparts

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Saturday 17th of December 2011

I usually read non-fiction, too, though I still love stories, so I go more for biographies and autobiographies. Right now I'm reading Tea Time with Terrorists--it's not my typical fare, but it's about Sri Lanka, a place my husband and I were able to visit for ministry in 2005. My husband travels the world for ministry and I get to go with him from time to time, so a lot of my reading is about a place either he or we will be going or have been. I find it helps so much to understand the people and the culture, even if I don't remember the facts. I still get a general picture.

I'm also reading The Family Dinner and Grace Before Meals, both books I that, like some of these you read, I don't share the same world view with, but I have found a lot I agree with. I'm reading these books because my book Around the Table, will be out in January and I'm starting a blog to go along with it, so it was interesting to me that Les and Leslie Parrot have written a book along these lines, too. (Wow, Kristen, I'd love to have you review my book!)


Thursday 3rd of November 2011

I've read "168 Hours". Two topics that I enjoy reading about are time management and frugality. I have noticed that "outsource/delegate" seems to be a common thread in productivity literature while "do it yourself" is a common theme in frugal literature. Seems like you just have to figure out the balance of what works for where you are in life and the things that you enjoy doing; i.e., if you can afford to outsource, then pay others to do those tasks that you don't care for if it means that you have more breathing room in your life.


Wednesday 26th of October 2011

I just returned from the library! On my way in, I dropped off the following: High Heels to Tractor Wheels [The Pioneer Woman] - looooooooved it The Fates Will Find Their Way - did not like...did not finish Here If You Need Me - quite uncharacteristic of my book choices, but I really enjoyed this memoir.

I picked up...about a half-dozen more! Orange is the New Black - My Year in a Women's Prison Normal Gets You Nowhere The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao The Memory Collector Still Missing Object Lessons How to Breathe Under Water

Good thing I'm taking a sabbatical from employment...hah!


Friday 21st of October 2011

Just finished 168 a week ago and I totally agree with the things you said!

Jo in RI

Friday 21st of October 2011

I'm reading The Good Earth by Pearl Buck for my next book club meeting (last month was Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, which was fantastic). I'm really enjoying The Good Earth, too. I'm finishing up reading Little Women to my 9-year-old daughter, and then we're going to see a nearby college theater production of it this weekend! Can't wait! Guess who my favorite character is! I also read Holes this week because my daughter read it at school and loved it and wanted me to read it too. It is a fun read. And I'm rereading Anne of Green Gables to see if my 9-year-old might be able to handle that on her own or if I should read it to her (she's apparently at a 12th grade reading level--maybe thanks to a couple of years of homeschooling. ??!). Other than that, I read a lot of Magic Tree House books out loud to my 4 and 7 year olds. And oodles of other fun stuff to my 2 and 4 year olds.

Whoever mentioned Wendell Berry books earlier in this thread, he is one of my absolute favorite authors. Love everything of his that I have read. I also really like Chaim Potok and Anne Patchett as fiction writers. And Peter Walsh on topics regarding living more with less stuff.

One quick comment on the Little House books. I read them to my oldest a few years ago and she has re-read them a few times herself (and all the sequels about the Rose years, and all the 15 prequels about the Martha, Charlotte, and Caroline years--they are awesome background if you can still get your hands on them. I had to special request them from the library.). Anyway, one thing I didn't like about the books when I re-read them as an adult was the perspective on Native Americans. Ma says at one point that only good one is a dead one. Horrific. My husband teaches colonial American and Native American history, so I'm a bit more sensitive to the issues than some might be. But I do hope that as you all read these books with your children that you will point out that that is not an acceptable way to view others and that the mistreatment of the Indians should not be glossed over and forgotten. Thanks for allowing me this little soapbox.

Great blog, by the way. Thanks for sharing your life with us in this way.


Friday 21st of October 2011

Oh yes, of course I talk about that with my children, and not just when we read those books. As we study history, starting even with Christopher Columbus, we've discussed how the native people here were mistreated.

I also agree with what Erin said...Laura is presenting the facts about how each of her parents viewed Indians, and I can't exactly fault her for that. It is what it is (or, was what it was!). There are a number of things I disagree with Ma about, actually, but as with most other books, you just have to sift through and leave behind what you don't agree with (and of course talk about that stuff with the kids).


Friday 21st of October 2011

One thought on your observation about Ma Ingalls' view on Indians..... it is not presented as the right way to view things, but as the actual way Ma viewed things. Also, sadly, this is the way many of the pioneers thought of Native Americans. Since Laura Ingalls Wilder's books are semi-autobiographical, she is recording the way things were, not the way they ought to be. And Pa Ingalls had a different point of view on the Indians. He seems to have a healthy respect and value for them. Of course I agree with you that one should point this out to your children, as they have a harder time discerning between right and wrong when expressed through fiction.

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