BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP
Being resident book blogger for DLAM means I’m lucky enough to get sent lots of different books to read and review, which is basically my dream job (just in case it matters to anyone, I’m also Head of Stationary for DLAM which is also my dream job, although it is harder to review an envelope).
Anyway, over the last few months, I’ve had a few books sent to me, some of which I really liked and some of which I haven’t.
It’s obviously really important to stay honest and genuine with my thinking towards these books, despite the fact that someone, somewhere, went to the trouble of packing the book up, writing my name on it and sending it to me (and indeed writing it in the first place!). I really don’t want to upset anyone (books are such subjective things) but also I do need to be honest and speak truthfully about how I feel about these publications.
So I thought I would do a little round up of the books I’ve been sent recently, which for whatever reason, have stuck with me - for example, often I’m not the target audience, but I can see that they would be a good read for a certain person (age, gender, stage of life etc) or they have just struck a chord with me for whatever reason.
So in no particular order, here you are - my roundup of books I’ve liked over the last few months:
We found a hat by Jon Klassen
If you have kids and an eye for beautiful design you will probably know this series of books, We Found a Hat being the third (the other 2 being I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat). Firstly, it’s so lovely to look at - its cover is calming and peaceful and cosy. Inside it’s a lovely story, which kids up to 4 or 5 will enjoy being read, but equally my 6 year old daughter enjoys reading it to me, finding it totally relatable as the storyline is so relevant to kids working their way through playgroups, nursery & school!. Anyway, for some reason it always triggers a response in me, usually making me cry!? It’s a touching, sweet story about kindness and friendship and it’s lovely.
The Good Father - by Lee Price
So this was an odd one for me because it’s been written by a new dad for other new dads, doing what so many women have done before - trying to pass on some wisdom, tips and knowledge to all the other new parents who are treading in his footsteps.So, in other words really not geared towards me. But - I read it and laughed throughout, appreciating the way it tried to dispel some of the myths and legends that we have in pregnancy and presenting the information in an approachable way. I think my husband would have enjoyed it if he’d read it before we had our first kid, because the tongue in cheek and ‘we’re all in it together’ approach works well. It’s really very funny and very honest. It would be a good present to get a mate who was about to become a dad, as there is some useful stuff in there and clearly Lee Price has got knowledge and experience. I think men do fairly badly in the whole pregnancy and new baby book department which is a mistake, because their lives are changing too. This laddish, funny approach to imparting information and knowledge, is a good start.
The Foolish King - The secret history of Chess by Lord Mark Price
I wanted to mention this one because I really liked the idea behind it, but it did have it’s limitations. Even though it’s not really something that I would review on the DLAM blog, I thought it would be interesting because my 9 year old son is really into chess and obviously I’m keen to promote that (anything but more Xbox!). I gave him a copy to read, with a bit of background (and also the promise that he could have the app that accompanies it if he read the book and give me his opinion - bribery yes, what of it?)
The upshot was that he didn’t get very far with the book but I think I know why. It tries to make the game of chess into a story, in theory enabling children to really understand each pieces move and the reason why they can do those moves. I felt the book was very much geared towards girls, (Lord Price wrote it for his daughter, to help her understand the game) giving it a slightly fairy tale-esque slant, with a sister and her brother on a quest to save their kingdom. For my son, it was too girly and he felt it was a bit ‘old fashioned’. But for some kids, this will only increase it’s appeal. My son just wants to play, and preferably win, at chess. But for kids who like a bit more in depth knowledge about a game, this would be a really good place to start.
A New Way for Mothers by Louise Webster
This is billed as a self help book, specifically for mothers who may be struggling with their identity and position in the workplace post babies.It attempts to enable women to take positive steps, in small but meaningful increments, to get back their previous confidence and career drive, using strategies and tips to promote self worth. It’s split into chapters and the reader is encouraged to dip in and out, taking from the book what they need. I really liked the idea of this book, having spent the last few years in a fug of not knowing what my next step would be.
I enjoyed individual chapters, I enjoyed the feeling that someone else felt like me when I had young kids (the isolation, days spent not really talking to grown ups whilst I pushed a small person on the swing for the 10,0000th time, the lack of connection with people) and I can see that Louise has an incredible brain - not only to be able to articulate all these things that I thought (and so I can only imagine a lot of other mums did too) but to get it put into book form and sell it.
This would be a really great read for a mum to buy herself one day, to dip into whilst the kid naps or is at nursery for a few hours, not just as a way of thinking about how you might move forward in the future, but also as a way to reconnect with yourself in the present.
The Supermum Myth by Anya Hayes
I think that the Supermum is a character made up by the media to market unneeded things to mums who are either feeling the mum guilt or are about to start feeling the mum guilt. This is a subject which this book attempts to tackle, which is one of lots of different reasons why any mother who doubts herself and her mothering ability (ie, all mothers) who turn to books for help, should read this one. It’s a wellness guide, it’s a self help book, it's an all round, holistic approach for allowing yourself to enjoy motherhood, using everything from CBT to mindfulness techniques to help.
Anya has a lovely, personal way of writing which makes you think that it’s written specially for you and her use of personal stories and other case studies means that every angle is covered. Full disclosure, i’m quoted in the book as I was one of Anya’s pilates students and she knows I like to talk, and reading my own words in relation to subjects which are fairly close to the bone really strikes a chord, especially when alongside other women who have bravely spoken out about issues which affect most or all of women when they become parents.
I have kept this book on my bedside table to pick up and dip into when I’ve had a particularly challenging day - it’s like having your best mate on her best form by your side at all times, supporting you and basically telling you that everything's going to be ok.
The last chapter, ‘Letting go of perfect’, is such a good way to release yourself from the guilt of feeling like you’re getting things wrong - it reminds you that we are, all, good enough. And that’s good enough for me.
Read, reviewed and written by Hannah de Lasti www.londonviewofbooks.com