Friday, June 29, 2012

2012 reading: Catch-up (Part 6)

In an effort to catch up on my reading, I'm writing short reviews of everything I've read thus far this year. This is the final part!

Title and author: Animals Behaving Badly: Boozing Bees, Cheating Chimps, Dogs with Guns, and Other Beastly True Tales - Linda Lombardi
Source: Library
Rating: 9 out of 10

This book was David Sedaris's recommendation of the night when I saw him a few months ago. I'm trying to read more non-fiction, and a book about the crazy things animals do sounded like just the trick. I couldn't believe some of the wild stories in here! Lombardi obviously did extensive research to find the most interesting stories the world over, and it's the quirky quality of the subject that makes this book sing.

Title and author: Into the Minds of Babes: How Screen Time Affects Children from Birth to Age Five - Lisa Guernsey
Source: Library
Rating: 9 out of 10

As the mother of a young toddler, I'm very interested in how exposure to media influences development and learning. I heard the author participate in a discussion on media use by young children on The Diane Rehm Show and picked up her book at the library. Guernsey at times seems to be assuaging parental guilt over allowing children to watch TV by showing that, yes, it can be educational, which bothered my old-fashioned sensibilities. But, at least she did her due diligence and showed that there is no one-size-fits-all answer: Your kids won't be behind the curve if they watch no TV and, if you choose to let them watch TV, moderation and parental discretion is key.

Title and author: Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood - Susan Linn
Source: Library
Rating: 10 out of 10

Linn is cited in Guernsey's book (above), and I was very interested to see her views on marketing toward children, something I feel is out of hand. Turns out, she agrees with me 100 percent. There was a lot of information in this book that I already knew, like how many instructional hours are lost each year to watching Channel 1 or that companies make licensing deals of movie and TV characters to make sales more lucrative, but some of the statistics were just startling and, frankly, frightening. Needless to say, it made our decision not to buy licensed toys and clothing for our son all the more rational in my mind after reading this book.

Title and author: Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? - Mindy Kaling
Source: Library
Rating: 8 out of 10

I've loved Mindy Kaling ever since my first episode of The Office. I think she's smart, funny and would be great to hang out with. If she's anything like she portrays herself in her book, my perceptions of her are 100 percent correct. My only beef with this book is that Kaling repeatedly calls herself "chunky" or says she's bigger than most girls but then reveals she's a size 8. Maybe in Hollywood that's on the high end of the clothing scale, but that's pretty small to normal in the real world.


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