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The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, by A.J. Jacobs.

This is a book about... a man who tries to follow the bible as literally as possible for a whole year (ah, how I love descriptive titles). It is a really funny book and I enjoyed it a lot. There are no great theological insights here, although quite a lot of information, most of it accurate (this is a man who read the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica in one year, and then wrote a book about it, The Know-It-All).

Jacobs has to first, read the bible and make a list of its rules; and then decide for himself how to interpret them. While he takes religious tradition into consideration, he is not bound by it. He also visits groups who take the bible literally, or at least claim to, such as the Amish, ultra-orthodox Jews, and snake-handling fundamentalists. I know I'm starting to sound like a sixth-grade book report, but my favorite part of the book was when Jacobs calls the headquarters of the Watchtower Society (Jehovah's Witnesses) and asks them to send someone to his house. At the end, he still claims to be an agnostic, but he has a greater understanding of the importance of faith and his own religious heritage.

It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff, by Peter Walsh [CD AUDIOBOOK].

I first heard about Peter Walsh from Oprah's website, where he is her "clutter and organizing guru". Our library doesn't have his book, but they do have the audiobook. Now, I don't usually listen to audiobooks, since as a stay-at-home mom I don't have much of a commute. But I found it a refreshing change from listening to the radio while cooking and cleaning in the kitchen. And the book was inspiring, too - I got rid of a lot of unnecessary kitchen clutter while listening to the book. This would be a great book to listen to on headphones while cleaning the house.

Peter Walsh's approach is part organizer, part therapist. He deals with the physical aspects of clutter, walking you through each room in your house, with a definite plan of attack. But he also deals with the emotional aspects of why we hang on to junk. He also pays special attention to the relationships in a family - between spouses or partners - and how decluttering your home can affect your family, both positively and negatively. And he emphasizes that we should teach our children to have limits, that they should not acquire more "stuff" than they have the space for in their lives. One of the best books I have read on this subject.

The Family Manager, by Kathy Peel.

This book is full of helpful suggestions and strategies for running a household, given with a mom-as-manager attitude.

The Parting (The Courtship of Nellie Fisher, Book 1), by Beverly Lewis.

I need to remind myself not to be so eager to read a newly-published book when it is part of a series. Book II will likely not be published until next fall, at which point I will have forgotten what happened in Book I and will re-read it.

Anyway, it's another winner from Beverly Lewis.

The Potty Training Answer Book, by Karen Deerwester.

My two older boys were potty trained around the age of three - give or take a few months - using the Toilet Training in Less Than A Day method (works great as long as you don't actually expect it to take only one day). So imagine my surprise when, and the age of 19 months, my third son developed an intense interest in using the potty. He started out wanting to read Once Upon a Potty over, and over, and over, again; then when I got out the little potty seat, wanted to sit on it. Maybe it is the fact that he is the first child to wear cloth diapers in our family, but he has already made the mental connection between what he feels in his body and the pee pee coming out. He has limited bladder control, meaning he can wait just a few seconds, time enough to get to the potty and for me to get his diaper off. I wasn't quite prepared to do the full-scale training just yet, so I'm not pushing it hard at this point.

The Potty Training Answer Book really does answer practically every question one might have on the subject. It doesn't espouse any particular method, but does discuss different approaches to training (or "potty learning", as some prefer to call it). Therefore, it is a good companion to "method" books like Less Than A Day, or as a reference guide if you want to develop a "Personal Potty Plan". The most helpful parts of the book were the discussion on child temperaments, and how training approaches should be customized for each temperament; and the list of resources in the back such as books, videos, games, songs, websites, and products.

It's also the sort of book that you can read all the way through, or turn to a particular section. The beginning of each chapter lists all the "questions" answered in that chapter, which make the answers easy to find. On a completely coincidental note, the author, Karen Deerwester, is the parenting expert for, a website started by Maria T. Bailey whose book, Marketing to Moms, I just read and reviewed.

The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois.

This was one of my favorite childhood books and, upon re-reading it, I find it is just as witty and interesting as I remembered. It tells the story of Professor William Waterman Sherman who, after spending forty years teaching arithmetic at a boys school in San Francisco, is more than ready for some alone time. He designs and builds a house balloon, and sets off across the Pacific Ocean, intending to spend a whole year completely alone and unavailable. Three weeks later, he is picked up in the Atlantic Ocean, clinging to the wreckage of a twenty-balloon platform. How he came to be in the wrong ocean, with too many balloons, wearing a dinner jacket and diamond cuff links, is a story he will only tell in the auditorium of the Western American Explorers' Club, of which he is an honorary member... and in the pages of this book, should you care to read it.

Marketing to Moms: Getting Your Share of the Trillion-Dollar Market, by Maria T. Bailey.

The mother in the family controls 80 percent of all household spending - a staggering $1.6 trillion. Is your company doing enough to attract your share of this mom market?
The answer, for many businesses, is "no". This book explores the secrets of reaching moms, including utilizing traditional means such as radio, television, print advertising, direct mail and websites; special events; marketing to kids; public relations and customer service. It discusses the tricky job of marketing to certain categories of moms without alienating others (i.e. working vs. stay-at-home moms). One of the most overlooked ideas is that moms are also employees and business owners, and will tend to use products at home which serve them well at work.

While this book at times seems most relevant for medium-sized businesses which are implementing or refining their marketing strategy, there were many ideas for small business and large corporations. I took over four pages of notes for my home-based business. It's also and interesting read, full of examples and case studies.

Angela at Breastfeeding 123 has issued a challenge to Breastfeeding and Mothering bloggers to participate with her in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). The idea is that you commit to write one blog post per day, for the entire month of November. Why do this? Cause, uh, you started a blog to make yourself write more often?

Anyhow, I'm in! If you haven't noticed, I am currently posting maybe every week or two. It's not that there's a lack of important things going which need to be blogged about, either. On the contrary; sometimes I feel overwhelmed by bad news and the amount of cruddy stuff still going on in the world.

I'm qualifying my participation by saying that since I have three blogs, I only plan to post to one of the three each day. Wish me luck!

MORE THAN MANNERS! Raising Today's Kids to Have Kind Manners and Good Hearts, by Letitia Baldrige.

I guess I though this book was going to tell me how to teach my kids to use the correct fork or something. But it is more than manners; teaching children to be kind, developing courage, good character, and so forth. The author goes into such neglected topics as when to be polite to strangers and when to walk - or run - away; how to set ground rules for a blended family; what to say to someone who has suffered a loss. What I liked best about this book was that it gave not just the why of civilized behavior, but the how of teaching these character traits to children.

Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert, by Brian Herbert

There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to a biography written by a close family member. On the one hand, Brian Herbert has detailed, personal knowledge of Frank Herbert's life. On the other hand, Brian Herbert has detailed, personal knowledge of Frank Herbert's life. Sometimes way, way too much detail. It's interesting, but not terribly objective.

Bright From the Start: The Simple, Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind fromBirth to Age 3, by Jill Stamm, Ph.D.

I really didn't read this book, just skimmed it, but saw enough to recommend it. Stamm writes in the introduction:

What the science tells us is this:

1. What babies need is simpler than you might think.
2. But they need it more consistently and earlier than we often provide it.
3. My recommendations for early care are within every parent's ability to provide, regardless of your resources.
4. In face, they're as easy to learn as ABC. The cornerstones of what a bright, happy baby or toddler needs are Attention, Bonding, and Communication.
And moreover:
The data does not support the idea of brainy videos at six months, baby software at twelve months, and Chinese lessons at age two. Far from it. It turns out, a very young child's future success depends less on "academics" . . . than on such critical factors as whether your baby loves her babysitter, how often she hears bedtime stories, and how much time you spend on the cell phone or in front of the TV yourself.
A great book for new or expectant parents who may be confused by all the products and information out there on brain development. She discusses both the "why-to" as well as the "how-to".

Sandworms of Dune, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

Well, ok.

First, I should congratulate myself for reading all fourteen Dune novels in less than a year. I don't know how many pages that was, but it was a lot. Of course, this is coming from someone who has read War and Peace twice so I guess it's not too surprising.

So Sandworms was good. It had a plot that moved along. It tied up loose ends and answered questions. I was a little disappointed in the ending - not how it ended, but how the ending was written. Sometimes, I get to the end of a book and get the distinct feeling that the author was just tired of writing it and wanted to finish it up. Or had a deadline. Some of John Grisham's later novels are like that - exciting plot, with the wrap-up coming as almost an afterthought. At the end of Sandworms, we learn the identity of the ultimate Kwisatz Haderach. I was a bit surprised, but so be it. But do you remember the scene in Dune when Paul drank the water of life and could see the paths of the future, and accessed his other memories? Or when Leto II took the sandtrout as his second skin and began his transformation into the worm? This scene, when Duncan Idaho becomes both man and machine, gave me no such feeling of awe. The writing gives me no idea what that must have been like, what impact it had on him or on others. We get facts, but no vision, no gravitas to the most important single moment in the Dune universe.

So I liked it. But it could have been better.

Tanya at the Motherwear Breastfeeding blog posts a nice review of Dr. James McKenna's new book, Sleeping with Your Baby. She's also giving away a copy, if you hurry.

I've just discovered Library Thing, and you can see I've added a widget and a column on the left titled "Recent books from my library". Actually, it is a list of books that I am currently reading, including the ones "up next" and a couple that I will be reading to my 1st grader this year for school.

It's a neat tool. Check it out.

An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths, by Glenn Reynolds.

A great - but not earth-shaking - book about how new technologies are revolutionizing culture and society, from law professor and Instapundit Glenn Reynolds.

Perfect Parenting: The Dictionary of 1000 Parenting Tips, by Elizabeth Pantley.

This book is neat. When you have an issue with a child and just need some ideas as to how to handle it, just turn to one of hundreds of alphabetized topics, from "Allowances" to "Nightmares" to "Yelling and Screaming". What I liked about this book is that it is useful no matter what, if any, parenting philosophy you subscribe to, and does not claim to have only one answer for every child in every situation. Endorsed by Dr. Sears, too.

Hunters of Dune, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

I read this book last year when it came out, but it had been years since I had read the original Dune series. Now, reading it immediately after Chapterhouse: Dune, I am impressed by how well the two books flow together. My library has ordered Sandworms of Dune and I am anxiously awaiting it. Although, I do agree wholeheartedly with one reviewer who wrote: "The biggest gap between father and son is subtlety. What Frank Herbert implied with a sentence, B. Herbert and Anderson drag out into a paragraph-long explanation."

Your Fairy Bookmother posts on the lack of breastfeeding images in children's books (Reluctant Lactivism).

She may have missed these.

Heretics of Dune, by Frank Herbert.

Chapterhouse: Dune , by Frank Herbert.

I am eagerly awaiting Sandworms of Dune, the soon-to-be-published last book in the Dune series (actually, it is Part II of book 7, Hunters of Dune being Part I of book 7). Before I read it, though, I am trying to finish up the original 6 Dune books (which I have read many times) and re-read Hunters before my library gets its copy of Sandworms. I'm first on the hold list. At that point, I will have read all 14 Dune books in chronological order. In one year. Yikes.

Heretics of Dune is one of the best in the Dune series. It has an engaging plot, fleshed-out characters, mysteries that are later revealed (and some that are not). Chapterhouse is another story. Much of the "action" takes place in the character's minds, primarily that of Darwi Odrade, the Mother Superior of the Bene Gesserit. This book contains endless conversations between characters, and little action occurs until the very end of the book, and not much of a surprise at that. It's just another book that just gets you from point A to point B.

This week I stumbled across Bryan Terry's review of the audiobook of Dune. Bryan's Book Blog (which I found through his wife's blog, which I found where?) seems to be taking off, in the sense that real authors are visiting his site and commenting on his posts. By comparison, would you believe that this blog gets, on average, one hit a day? Me neither.

Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About God, Dreams, and Talking Vegetables, by Phil Vischer.

I first heard of this book after I stumbled across Phil Vischer's blog. I put in a request for my library to purchase it, and they did. I liked the book a lot. Here's a review which sums the book up better than I could:

From Publishers Weekly
Have you ever been tempted to start your own business? First read this cautionary tale, especially if you think your ideas come from God. Vischer, a pioneer in computerized animation and creator of Veggie Tales, proves that a pathetically skinny, shy techno-geek can be hilarious even when describing his headlong plunge into bankruptcy. In 1989, "with an unflappable 'How hard could it be' attitude," the 22-year-old entrepreneur launched his dream of creating high-quality Christian entertainment by founding the company that would become Big Idea Productions. Thirteen stressful years later, he was featured in a People magazine cover story—"small town kid kicked out of Bible college and down to his last ten bucks creates talking vegetables and hits it big, selling 40 million videos!"—shortly before firing half his staff in an unsuccessful attempt to avert disaster. While Vischer accepts the blame for the collapse ("my strengths built Big Idea, and my weaknesses brought it down"), he also details various unnamed executives' incompetence. One question haunted him: if he was doing God's work, why didn't God rescue his company? Concluding his story of spiritual inspiration and heartbreak, Vischer draws lessons from his experience for anyone who has ever lost a dream. (Jan. 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
If you read it, make sure to check out the bonus chapter.

Blogwild!: A Guide for Small Business Blogging, by Andy Wibbles

I liked this book because it delivered what it promised. It's a perfect introduction for a small business owner who doesn't know much about blogging but knows s/he needs to get on board. It's concise and to the point, and not too technical. My only criticism is that all of the "how to set up a blog" etc. information is based on a Typepad platform. It would have been nice if this book had been more relevant to other blogging services.

God Emperor of Dune, by Frank Herbert

Are Dune novels like Star Trek movies? You know, odd ones good, even ones bad? It would seem so. Although the concept of Leto II's transformation into the giant sand worm and his thousands-year reign is fascinating, this book is a bit plodding.

I'm also confused by the fact that the Duncan ghola says that he remembers Leto as a child, when actually the original Duncan died way before Leto was even conceived. Is Herbert insinuating that the Duncan gholas are not copies of the original but of a later ghola/clone? Or did he just get confused when writing this book. If you have a theory, let me know.

Body Clutter: Love Your Body, Love Yourself, by Marla Cilley (The FlyLady) and Leanne Ely (The Dinner Diva)

If you are a FlyLady or Dinner Diva devotee, that this book is a must-read goes without saying. It's motivational and inspirational for everyone else, although there is a lot of "fly-lingo" to fight through (glossary provided). It helped me, and I'm sure that it will be a life-changing book for some people who desperately need to hear its message.

Children of Dune, by Frank Herbert

Although I have read this book many times, I still enjoy it. Much better than the disappointing Dune Messiah.

Dune Messiah, by Frank Herbert

Personally, I thought this book was a bit of a dud. It's a bridge between Dune and Children of Dune but doesn't really stand on it's own.

Daddy Types comments on Slate's review of two new books about fertility, one of which is Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction Is Changing Men, Women, and the World, which is on my "to be read" shelf.

The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?, by Leslie Bennetts.

Hathor has a musing and a comic about this book. It's waiting for me on the library "hold" shelf, so I'll let you know what I think.

A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder--How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place, by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman.

I think the title pretty much says it all. Recommended.

The Postcard, by Beverly Lewis
The Crossroad, by Beverly Lewis

Dune: House Atreides, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
Dune: House Harkonnen, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
Dune: House Corrino, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

Dune, by Frank Herbert.

(took a break here, before plunging into the rest of the original Dune series, and read:)

The Road to Dune, by Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson.

Please note that I've changed my email address to (in standard format) mommyblawger at Thanks!

Living on Earth has a great interview with Dr. Marsden Wagner, former director of Women and Children's Health for the World Health Organization, and author of a new book, Born in the U.S.A.: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First:

GELLERMAN: For most of his career Dr. Marsden Wagner was your typical American OB/GYN. A baby doctor; delivering his share of the four million babies that are born each year in the United States.

Ninety-nine percent of those births take place in hospitals. That's the way it should be, thought Dr. Wagner until he became the Director of Women and Children's Health at the World Health Organization and began to travel to places where midwives do the job.

What he saw changed his life.

WAGNER: And it was an epiphany for me it was a shock beyond belief because that woman when she got near birth she started yelling and she said to the midwife and to me and the family and everybody, "Stand back, I'm gonna have this baby!" And she did. And what I actually witnessed for the first time in my life was a woman in her full power, and it scared me to death.

Domestic Bliss: Simple Ways to Add Style to Your Life, by Rita Konig

This is an entertaining, inspiring, and delightfully bossy book. Reading it will make you want to throw a dinner party, honest. Only thing is, Ms. Konig is Brittish so occasionally one has No Idea what she is talking about. It's not a compendium on home making, decorating, or entertaining, but it is a lot of fun.

What Goes with What: Home Decorating Made Easy, by Lauren Smith

This is a helpful little book. It is short and no-frills (no photos, just a few black & white drawings) but is a basic guide to home decorating. The author reviews the basic furniture styles, fabrics, color schemes, window dressings, and so forth, in a succinct and straightforward manner.

Why We Want You to be Rich: Two Men - One Message, by Donald J. Trump and Robert T. Kiyosaki (with Meredith McIver and Sharon Lechter)

I stopped reading this book half-way through. The best thing about this book is that Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki got together and decided to write a book. And, to be honest, that is just what most of the book is about - why they decided to write a book together and how much they have in common and all the things they agree on. If you've read anything by either one of them, there's not much new here.

One year ago today, at 11:06 p.m., I created this blog. Just hours later, I woke up in labor which ultimately resulted in the birth of my son Andrew. As my tagline says, three boys :: three blogs. So this blog birthday is special to me for that reason.

Goals for this blog: for one thing, update it more often. Once I finish a book, I am eager to start the next one. Takes a little self-discipline to write a review or at least note it on the blog first. I also plan to be more choosy about what I read in 2007. Quality, not quantity.

Over the next several days, I will finish listing all the books I read in 2006 that I haven't posted yet. Then I will post some sort of year-end tally.

Happy Birthday, Book Blawg! Happy Birthday, Andrew!

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