Books Read in April

“Daddy Needs a Drink- An Irreverent Look at Parenting From a Dad Who Truly Loves His Kids—Even When They’re driving Him Nuts” by Robert Wilder

I met Rob many years ago at a writing retreat in Taos with Natalie Goldberg so when I stumbled across his book I had to grab it. He’s as funny and engaging in writing as he was in person. He tackles many parenting topics from potty-training to telephone etiquette to sleep deprivation, revealing the unbearable frustration as well as the joy along the way. On the cover is a quote from the Fort Worth star-Telegram that reads, “If David Sedaris had children, this is the book he might write.” I’d have to agree.

“Manhood for Amateurs- The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son” by Michael Chabon

It’s a coincidence that I read two books of essays by men this month. I’ve had the Wilder book for a while and decided to read it. The Chabon one was on my never- ending list of books to read and there it was in the library last week. So, there you go. Chabon weaves memories of his own childhood and adolescence with his experience today as a father and husband, searching for an answer to the question, “What does it mean to be a man today?” his passion for his family shines through. I especially appreciated “William and I” in which a woman in line at the grocery store observes that she can tell the Chabon is such a good dad. Instead of feeling all puffed up, this compliment actually annoys him since he knows that a woman would need to perform open heart surgery on her child in line at the grocery store in order to receive the same assessment. I also loved “I Feel Good About My Murse” (which is a man purse) as he documents his quest for a vehicle in which to carry the items he needs with him throughout the day trying not to succumb to using an actual (gasp!) purse. Thoughtful, warm, funny and moving. What more could you ask for in a collection of essays?

“We Need to talk about Kevin” a novel by Lionel Shriver

This is an intense, dark story that I couldn’t put down. By the final sentence I felt wrung out emotionally. It tackles the tough topic of a high school massacre that happens nine days before Columbine. It is told in letters from the boy’s mother to her estranged husband as she meticulously combs through their story, trying to piece it all together. There are no easy answers. It is not an easy read. But I am glad I read it.

“Women Food and God- An Unexpected path to Almost Everything” by Geneen Roth

If Anne Lamott blurbs the cover I m inclined to read it. She did so I did. While I don’t consider myself to be a compulsive overeater, I do feel that I’ve spent more time than I care to admit obsessing about food/weight/inches/sizes. Her work can be applied to any behavior that you hide behind whether it’s food, internet, TV, shopping, etc… It’s about ending the struggle and feeling what is there. Literally feeling your body, getting grounded in the present moment. Feeling sad? What does that feel like in your body? I think this will also make me a better writer, using the body to convey emotions in my characters. This is a book I will turn to again and again, next time with pen in hand. I’m pretty sure that I will find at least one sentence on every page to underline that resonates with me.

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