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Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer.

No, it's not great literature and yes, it is that good.

Sheri Menelli is offering downloadable copies of her book Journey into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth for free. Get your copy here.

Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why it Matters, by Bill Tancer.

Bill Tancer loves data, and in his job he gets to work with a lot of it. He works for Hitwise, a company that analyzes online information, particularly search terms and online traffic. One of the examples that he gives in the book is that searches for prom dresses spikes in early January. He could come up with no explanation for this data, so he spoke with insiders in the prom dress industry, who were equally as clueless - they target their marketing for April and May, since most proms take place in late May. Finally, after sharing his data at a conference, a magazine publisher clued him in to the fact that teen magazines publish prom fashion issues in late December - a fact that, I'm sure, the prom dress industry needs to know.

While this book is in the same category as The Tipping Point or Freakonomics, it's not quite as good. Perhaps Mr. Tancer, being a data guy, is a bit more uncomfortable with "the big picture". But there is still a lot of great information here. I found the discussions of Web 2.0 and social networking particularly interesting.

Joe Hodnicki of the Law Librarian Blog writes a review here.

Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?: An Easy Plan for Losing Weight and Living More, by Peter Walsh.

I listened to the audiobook of Walsh's It's All Too Much and loved it, so I was anxious to read his new book. It's really just the it's all too much philosophy applied to weight loss and food, with lots of Walsh's insights into human nature, as he has observed the connection between body clutter and "too much stuff" clutter.

The Tatum Family blogger reviews several great books on pregnancy and childbirth.

Molly Reads reviews three books I own and have read (though not necessarily blogged about):

Childbirth Education: Practice, Research and Theory, by Francine H. Nichols and Sharron Smith Humenick. (review)

Milk, Money, and Madness: The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding, by Naomi Baumslag, MD and Dia L. Michels. (review)

Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care, by Jennifer Block. (review)

Audition: A Memoir, by Barbara Walters.

This book is really interesting, not so much because Barbara Walters is that fascinating - in fact, her constant low self-esteem and indecisiveness gets to be a bit wearing on the reader - but because she knew so many important, famous, and infamous people. In fact, I would suggest this book to someone older than me, as her career spans decades which I know little about, having been too young to experience them firsthand, and too old for them to get much coverage in history class.

Via Birth Pangs, a "laborious work of non-fiction" titled Great Expectations: Twenty-Four True Stories about Childbirth.

How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published, by Barbara Seuling.

So obviously this book is helpful if you want to write a children's book, but I also learned a lot about the history of children's literature and the publishing industry. There is also a helpful list in the Appendix of recommended children's books in each category which may be useful for parents.

In honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day:

Death of a Dream: Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Newborn Loss, by Donna and Rodger Ewy.

This is a great book, aimed primarily at caregivers - doctors, nurses, family members, etc. It has details - written in easy-to-understand language, though - about the medical causes of miscarriage and stillbirth, including genetic factors, placental abnormalities, and so forth. Gives clear suggestions for support people as to what to say and how to act. This book would be helpful for parents, but I would most recommend it to doulas and nurses.

A Woman Doctor's Guide to Miscarriage: Essential Facts and Up-To-The Minute Information on Coping With Pregnancy Loss and Trying Again, by Lynn Friedman, MD and Irene Daria.
Goes into a lot of detail on the causes and prevention of miscarriage, particularly recurring miscarriage, with smaller chapters on grief and trying again. Has a neat section at the back of women's stories.

Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby by Deborah L. Davis.
Explores in detail the grief process and the emotions that parents may be going through. Focuses mostly on the emotional aspects with very little information about the physical process, and focuses primarily on stillbirth rather than miscarriage. Helpful for anyone, though.

Molly's Rosebush, by Janice Cohn and Gail Owens.
This is a really simply, touching book about miscarriage for children from the perspective of the older sister. It makes a great analogy that just as some seeds don't sprout, and some eggs don't hatch, some babies don't get to be born.

Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich, by Robert Frank.

This is a very interesting and enjoyable read about really, really rich people and how they live. It stands in sharp contrast to The Millionaire Next Door, which characterizes the ordinary millionaire as buying used cars and drinking Budweiser.

As previously mentioned, I am reading through the Jack Ryan novels:

Red Rabbit

The Hunt for Red October

The Cardinal of the Kremlin

Clear and Present Danger

My HG-sister Diana of Birth at Home in Arizona writes a review of Managing Morning Sickness: A Survival Guide for Pregnant Women by Miriam Erick. While you are at it, check out her related blog, The Whining Puker.

Your Pregnancy Recovery Guide, by Glade B. Curtis and Judith Schuler.

The best thing about this book is that - being a book only about the postpartum period - it is fairly comprehensive. It describes in detail what one should expect, both physically and emotionally, after giving birth. There is slightly more emphasis on the physical aspects, including exercise and nutrition, than the socio-psychological aspects. It answers a lot of questions that moms may have, such as which pregnancy changes will go away in time (linea nigra) and which may not (larger shoe size). It also contains information on baby care and returning to work.

This book was written using fairly simple language, without a whole lot of explanation or detail, so I can't really recommend it to moms who are well-educated or who have a lot of knowledge about birth already. There were also a couple of glaring errors in the "Feeding Your Baby" chapter (I hesitate to make disparaging comments about OBs writing about breastfeeding without the input of lactation professionals - perhaps it is a bit out of Dr. Curtis' scope of practice?). For instance:
It won't harm your baby if you cannot or choose not to breastfeed.
Patently untrue. While yes, formula feeding may be the best choice for some moms, it is not without risks, and it can harm babies. For instance, four babies in every thousand die because they are not breastfed. Formula fed babies are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized for a bacterial infection. And these statistics pertain to the US, not to developing countries without access to clean water.
When you decide to discontinue nursing, you can either taper off gradually or stop cold turkey. Each way has its advantages.
There's an advantage to quitting cold turkey? None that I know of. It's bad for mom and bad for baby. Oh, it takes less time. Hm.

So, while this book may be helpful for some moms, I can't recommend it without reservation.

Patriot Games, by Tom Clancy.

I think I'm going to read through all of Clancy's Jack Ryan novels, in storyline order. Need something to get me through this long, hot summer.

Read lately:

The Rookie Mom's Handbook: 250 Activities to Do with (and Without!) Your Baby, by Heather Flett and Whitney Moss - I love Quirk books; they are sturdy with such nice, thick pages - one enjoys the book even before reading a single word. The Rookie Mom's Handbook is a funny and handy guide to activities for the first year of life, organized by month. It's not going to make anyone's "must-have" parenting library list, but it would make a great baby shower or new mom gift. You can check out the authors' blog at

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell. Not as great as Gladwell's Tipping Point, but still has some mind-blowing conclusions:

There are lots of books that tackle broad themes, that analyze the world from great remove. This is not one of them. Blink is concerned with the very smallest components of our everyday lives - the content and origin of those instantaneous impressions and conclusions that spontaneously arise whenever we meet a new person or confront a complex situation or have to make a decision under conditions of stress. When it comes to the task of understanding ourselves and our world, I think we pay too much attention to those grand themes and too little to the particulars of those fleeting moments. But what would happen if we took our instincts seriously?

Sidetracked Home Executives: From Pigpen to Paradise, by Pam Young and Peggy Jones. - Written by sisters, this book (along with Suze Ormod's The Courage to Be Rich, and Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston) was one of the inspirations for The Fly Lady's system. I personally find the card file concept to be overwhelming, and not as thoroughly explained as could be, but I do use a tickler file for almost everything and heartily recommend it.

The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, by Alan Greenspan. I thoroughly enjoyed this book - as much as I read of it. At 544 pages, at a certain point I decided that it was just taking too long to read and I had other, more pressing things to do with my time. The first part of the book is an autobiography of Greenspan, but really it reads as a politico-economic history of the last fifty years. The second half of the book is a discussion of the current state of world economics. This book is fascinating, but not for everyone.

Please, somebody send this headline witter a copy of Eats, Shoots & Leaves:

Girlfriend Accused of Stabbing Man with Scissors

sTORI Telling, by Tori Spelling.

Ok, I'm not a fan, but I checked it out because I can't resist a catchy title. Interesting (I read it in less than 24 hours), but not brilliant, much like Tori Spelling's acting.

The Gatecrasher, by Madeleine Wickham.

I was a little disappointed when, while writing the review of "Remember Me?", I wikipedia'ed the author and found that Sophie Kinsella is actually a pseudonym, and the author has a whole other life writing more serious fiction as Madeleine Wickham (which may or may not be her real name either). One has a certain impression of one's authors, a little fantasy of a sweet young lady giving up her day job and plugging away at one slightly-autobiographical novel or so each year, and becoming a surprise success. Only to find out she has been writing longer and much more seriously all along. One does not like to have one's bubble burst.

Fans may be interested to know that The Gatecrasher will be re-released in May (with Kinsella's name prominently displayed on the cover - you see, the fame of the latter has overtaken that of the former). And Kinsella recently conducted a book reading in Second Life which is, I take it, the next Big Thing.

Buck Up, Suck Up . . . and Come Back When You Foul Up: 12 Winning Secrets from the War Room, by James Carville and Paul Begala.

I had to read the title to this book three times before I "got it". It rhymes. Duh.

Anyway, in the authors' words:

This book won't change your life.

If you buy this book and read it, you will not make $1 million - at least not because you bought this book. This ain't the New Testament or the Tibetan Book of the Dead or the Talmud or the Koran... Here's what you'll get: good, sound advice on how to win. You'll get techniques and tactics that are battle-tested and proven in the white-hot crucible of politics."
I recently watched Primary Colors and The War Room back-to-back. Now that's a trip.

Fresh Milk: The Secret Life of Breasts, by Fiona Giles.

From the back cover:

While countless breastfeeding guides crowd bookshelves, not one of them speaks to women with anything approaching bestselling author Fiona Giles's level of intimacy and vitality. In Fresh Milk, through a provocative collection of stories, memories, and personal accounts, Giles uncovers the myths and truths of the lactating breast.

Remember Me?, by Sophie Kinsella.

I loved, loved, loved Sophie Kinsella's The Undomestic Goddess, about a lawyer who is mistaken for a housekeeper. I enjoyed her Shopaholic series, but not as much - I wasn't as fond of her ditzy, no self-control, overspending heroine. I think that I like Kinsella's books because they are the right balance between business/career (Kinsella was a financial journalist before turning to witting) and romance (which, as a married woman, I've officially sworn off). Remember Me has got to be one of her best yet. Because of the heroine's amnesia, the story has a real element of mystery to it - how did her life change so much during the three years that she can't remember?

Running with Scissors: A Memoir, by Augusten Burroughs.

Mr. Burroughs writes:

Some considered my brother to be a genius. And while it's true that he could program computers the size of deep freezers when he was twelve and had read the Encyclopedia Britannica from A-Z the summer he turned fifteen...
Whoa. Hold on. I read his brother's book, Look Me in the Eye, and I don't remember anything about him reading Encyclopedia Britannica. I just read another book, The Know-it-all, about A. J. Jacobs' quest to read the EB in one year. So I've read two books by people who have read the Encyclopedia. Any other books out there about Encyclopedia readers that I should know about?

Babies, breastfeeding, and bonding, by Ina May Gaskin.

Out of print and hard to come by (Amazon has only 1 copy available), this 1987 book by midwifery pioneer Ina May Gaskin is a treasure. I was amazed at how much useful and accurate information is in this book, written at a time when so much advice given to women about breastfeeding was just plain wrong. Try to find it at your local library or used-book store.

This looks interesting: The 90-Minute Baby Sleep Program: Follow Your Child's Natural Sleep Rhythms for Better Nights and Naps, by Polly Moore.

Dr. Moore was a sleep researcher who got pregnant and thought, "No problem, I'm an expert at sleep." Then her babies showed her who's boss. Her nursery became her sleep lab and she noticed something that wasn't talked about. 90-minute sleep/alertness cycles.
Book Review from ParentDish.

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations, by Alex Harris and Brett Harris.

The authors of Do Hard Things have a novel approach to book marketing. They are asking readers to pledge to order a copy of their forthcoming book - a hardback non-fiction book for teens ("a genre that is about as popular with young people as foreign language math textbooks") - on March 25th. By doing so, they hope to have a one-day bump in their ratings which will spur additional book sales.

Alex and Brett Harris are the younger twin brothers of Joshua Harris of I Kissed Dating Goodbye fame, and the sons of homeschooling pioneers Gregg and Sono Harris, as well as older brothers to thirteen-year-old book blogger Isaac and Fearlessly Feminine's Sarah.

All this reminds me that in five and a half years, I become the mother of a teenage boy.

Metropolitan Mama posts a review of HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing:

Essentially, hypnobirthing stands on the premise that, "when fear is not present, pain is not present. Fear causes the arteries leading to the uterus to contract and become tense, creating pain. In the absence of fear, the muscles relax and become pliable, and the cervix is able to naturally thin and open as the body pulsates rhythmically and expels the baby with ease." This foundation is based in large part on the research and writings of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, a physician and author of Childbirth Without Fear (first published in the mid-fifties). The Hypnobirthing movement officially came on the scene in 1989 and has been slowly growing in popularity since then.
Visit her blog before Mar. 16 to win a copy of the book.

Note: I wrote the following by hand over a year ago. List month seemed like a good time to post it.

I have a stack of eighteen books waiting to be read, all but two from the library. This does not include the three novels (one a 700-pager) on my night stand, nor the four books on Feng Shui and home design on the coffee table. I cannot possibly read even a portion of these in the six weeks (max) I am able to keep them checked out, so here I go to cull some out:

50+: Igniting a Revolution to Reinvent America, by Bill Novelli. Interesting, but not relevant to me right now.

Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas, by Tom Callahan. Why did I put this book on hold?

Buffettology: The Previously Unexplained Techniques That Have Made Warren Buffett The World's Most Famous Investor, by Mary Buffett.

You've GOT to Read This Book!: 55 People Tell the Story of the Book That Changed Their Life, by Jack Canfield & Gay Hendricks. No I don't!

The Great Physician's Rx for Health and Wellness, by Jordan Rubin. I would like to give this one a thorough reading, since I liked The Maker's Diet so much.

What Do You Do All Day?: A Novel, by Amy Scheibe. Mommy novel.

Faith and Politics: How the "Moral Values" Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together, by Senator John Danforth. My Mommy Brain is tired of politics.

Profiles in Courageous Manhood, by Edwin Louis Cole. I own this one, so it goes back on the shelf until some night when I am bored.

The ten books left can fit in one pile on the side table. Mission accomplished.

See my NaBloPoMo- related announcement on The Mommy Blawg.

How Not to Look Old: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better, by Charla Krupp.

Ok, so I'm not 40 yet, but I am starting to think about these things. What I liked about this book is that she separates her advice into "high-", "medium-" and "low-maintenance" levels, so that there is still hope for those of us who can't fly to New York for haircuts and spa treatments.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath & Dan Heath.

When I first picked up this book, it reminded me a lot of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. I don't know if it was the trompe-l'œil duct tape on the front cover, or just the overall tone of the book. Then immediately after having that thought, I encounter this in the introduction:

We adopted the "what sticks" terminology from one of our favorite authors, Malcom Gladwell. In 2000, Gladwell wrote a brilliant book called The Tipping Point, which examined the forces that cause social phenomena to "tip", or make the leap from small groups to big groups, the way contagious diseases spread rapidly once they infect a certain critical mass of people... This book is a complement to The Tipping Point in the sense that we will identify the traits that make ideas sticky, a subject that was beyond the scope of Gladwell's book. Gladwell was interested in what makes social epidemics epidemic. Our interest is in how effective ideas are constructed - what makes some ideas stick and others disappear.
The authors identify six key qualities of a "sticky" idea. These are:
1. Simplicity
2. Unexpectedness
3. Concreteness
4. Credibility
5. Emotional
6. Stories
(or: SUCCESs - Simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional stories.)

This book is a must-read for anyone with a message. Anyone in marketing or advertising; anyone who teaches; anyone promoting a cause; anyone who wants to change the world.

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's, by John Elder Robison.

This is a very interesting story of a man who did not know "what was wrong with him" until he was forty and read a description of Asperger's syndrome. Robinson is the brother of Augusten Burroughs, who wrote Running with Scissors: A Memoir, and at times Look Me in the Eye feels like half of a story.

Add to the list of books on home staging and decorating:

Home Therapy: Fast, Easy, Affordable Makeovers, by Lauri Ward. By the author of Use What You Have, this book is something of a case study, without a whole lot of guidance. Lots of photos.

Building a Successful Home Staging Business: Proven Strategies from the Creator of Home Staging, by Barb Schwarz. This book has some useful information for anyone staging their own home, but it is more for the professional.

Dress Your House for Success: 5 Fast, Easy Steps to Selling Your House, Apartment, or Condo for the Highest Possible Price!, by Martha Webb and Sarah Parsons Zackheim. You wouldn't think that such a small book with no photos, only a few black and white illustrations, would be so helpful, but it really stands out from all the books I've read recently.

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