The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson – Book Review

I rarely read mysteries, and this book perfectly illustrates why – I could not put it down, I had to find out where it was going and what was really happening, and so it was interfering with my home and social life.  Mysteries end up removing my free will and ability to structure my own time, and The Child Garden had me completely engrossed.

I met Catriona McPherson at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.  She is a lovely woman, and signed my ARC and gave me a brief rundown of the book.  It is such a treat to meet authors, and McPherson was so personable I wanted to stick around her booth for much longer.  I wish I could recall what she told me about the Child Garden, but the feeling she gave me was enough to make this one the first ARC that I picked up when I returned.  I knew it would be creepy, dark, and a bit of a puzzle.

Told in a distinct voice, by an overly reliable narrator – she strikes me as the sort of person who has always done the right thing, despite the consequences.  An avid reader who has devoted her life to her disabled son, Gloria is by chance reunited with an old classmate and quickly becomes a fugitive-hiding, murder-solving, story-debunking powerhouse, disguised as a door-to-door missionary.  This book is funny and sweet and a joy to read for anyone who’s ever been told that life is not really the way it happens in books, who loves another human being more than they ever thought possible, or who has enough time on their hands to finish a book in one sitting, because that is exactly what you’ll want to do with this one.

Why We Work by Barry Schwartz – Book Review

This is the book I can’t stop talking about, and can’t stop recommending.  If you haven’t read it, read it now.  It’s short.  This is the book that will get you out of a career slump or burnout.  This is the book that will make you remember why you love going to work.  This is the book that will help you find meaning in any activity, no matter how menial it seems.  I read it on my way to the ALA Annual Conference, and I managed to bring it up in conversation several times a day.  I can’t wait to re-read it, and I can’t wait to own my own copy.

Why We Work is a thought-provoking exploration of the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that drive going to work and doing a good job.  References and ties together many excellent works about learning, thinking, and working.  An excellent overview of several concepts which I had not thought to tie together but which influence the psychology of being at work and the desire to do a good job.  I found Schwartz’s distinction between job, career, and calling to be both revelatory and easy to understand.  This book offers some tools and individual can use to improve how they think about their own work, and ways to enjoy work more, but the real critique is aimed at how we as members of society or as business managers think. The way we frame how we think about work in general can trickle down through our whole work experience, and the wrong frame or motivations can poison the whole well.

I will definitely be seeking out more TED books.

Things I’ve Said to My Children by Nathan Ripperger – Book Review

Hilarious, on point, and very fun. I won’t make my review longer than the book, which is short and colorfully illustrated. I had no idea prior to having children that the things they say are so hilariously weird, and I wouldn’t have believed it without hearing it from my own offspring. Hearing ridiculous things from my own children, and coming across situations I wish I could remove from my memory makes crazy things come out of my own mouth – and I found a lot in this book to identify with. Ripperger has more children than I, and therefore that many more opportunities to say completely ridiculous things, but I have personally heard many of these lines from my own mouth…and I think they are much more hilarious when removed from the context and illustrated by someone else. I will not spoil any of the lines by inclusion in this review – just know that if you’ve found yourself saying things that sound crazy, and thought – I should be writing this stuff down – Nathan Ripperger beat you to it.