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This list of books I’ve recently read should tell you precisely how eclectic I am…

…I also think its funny that 3 of the 5 are authored by a Stephen/Steven.

The Urban Naturalist by Steven D. Garber

I really liked this book.  It is not without its shortcomings–from a strictly biology/ecology perspective, its over simplistic and it doesn’t do justice from the diversity that surrounds us, even in an urban/suburban environment (but since a good portion of that diversity is regional, I think its understandable).  Also, its a bit out of date, as another blogger/reviewer pointed out (a blog worth checking out too–much better reviewer than I am!).  But, from a natural history perspective, I like its emphasis on accessibility.   Nature is in your backyard, if you know how to look and what to look for.  And as the desire to look and the ability to observe seems to be declining as a skill and an interest, I’m a fan of anything that does a reasonably good job of trying to rekindle that.

Overcoming ADHD: Helping Your Child Become Calm, Engaged, and Focused–Without a Pill by Dr. Stanley Greenspan

I’m not sure about this book.  On one hand, I like it…on the other hand, I don’t think that Dr. Greenspan has ever been a stay-at-home-mother of small children, much less one with ADHD.  I appreciate many of his suggestions…and I agree with his overall idea of medication as a last resort, or as a temporary tool to be used while working with a child in strengthening them before building the skills they need to handle their ADHD.  The problem is that (as with most ADHD books) most of it is only applicable with older children.  The other thing that bothered me through out the book, which I couldn’t put my finger on, until I had read some other reviews (including on him as a physician) is that there is a sort of feeling that “if this doesn’t work, you’re just not trying hard enough or doing it right”.  Granted, I might just be projecting my inadequacies as a mother, but it felt condescending enough that I can’t wholesale endorse the book, even though I did find it informative and useful.

Religious Literacy: what every American needs to know–and doesn’t by Stephen Prothero (audiobook)

I really like this book (its a re-read though I’m listening to it this time), both in terms of writing and because I think (particularly as we are in the selection phase of a presidential election cycle where religion is an important subtext) that the author makes an excellent case for the need to address religion in the context of cultural literacy, and ways that we can do so.  What this book is *not* however (and a number of people seem to think it should be, if their reviews are any indicate) is what specific facts would constitute religious literacy…if you pick this book up and read it with that expectation, you will find a glimmer, but largely be left disappointed.  The author has written a more recent book, God is not One, that looks like it might be a good fit as a beginning to religious literacy.

Dark Needs at Night’s Edge by Kresley Cole

This is a total Guilty Pleasure re-read.  I think I might review her whole series when the newest comes out on January 10th.  But until then, I’ll just say that this is my favorite of the series, mostly because I think Naomi is a hella interesting character…and supposedly irredeemable vampires are sort of fun.

The Doomsday Vault (a novel of the Clockwork Empire) by Steven Harper

I’m still reading it, so officially the jury is still out…but I like it, with some character-building reservations.  I *want* to like the main character, but…she’s sort of lame (I’m only half-way thru, I hope she’ll improve, but I secretly fear she will suffer from what I chauvinistically call “guy authors don’t get chick-itis”).  The idea behind the plot thought–very cool steampunk, and zombies!!

Other Books Read This Month:
Courting Darkess (an Otherworld Novel) by Yasmine Galenorn
India Black and the Widow of Windsor (book 2 of the new Madam of Espionage Mystery series) by Carol K. Carr, which I will probably review soon–good books!
Blue Smoke and Murder by Elizabeth Lowell
What Your Preschooler Needs to Know and What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know both edited by E. D. Hirsch
Dinosarumpus! (Normally I wouldn’t add in the kids books…but they adored this! We checked it out from the library–kids loved it enough, I think I’ll buy it used from Amazon!)

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