RachaelRachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

Looking for some grown-up books to read after the kids head back to school? Here are some book reviews and what a few of our writers have been reading lately.

Mumbling Mommy Book Reviews

Rachael:

All photos via amazon.com.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. This is the first in a series of four books about the adventures of a young farm veterinarian in Yorkshire England. Having visited the United Kingdom twice, I wanted to delve into some of the popular local literature. I enjoyed the first book so much I plowed through the rest of the series in just a few months. These are not warm and fuzzy “Chicken Soup” types of animal-lover stories. Herriot has a keen sense of humor, and his stories are often more about the eccentric people he meets in his line of work rather than the animals.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: Farm Journalist by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What young girl hasn’t loved the Little House books? This book is a collection of several decades’ worth of newspaper columns Wilder wrote while living in the Missouri Ozarks. Much of her writing deals with the specifics of farming and how to make a living raising chickens and tilling rocky mountain soil. She also talks about the importance of family and living simply, and the problem of being overly busy. She wrote some of her columns during World War I and offers opinions on that as well. Overall, the book is a fascinating glimpse into the life of the grownup Laura. While you’re at it, be sure to look into Missouri State University’s free online course about Laura that starts this fall.

From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden by Amy Stewart. Fellow blogger Elizabeth loaned me this book because we both enjoy gardening. This chronicles the author’s struggles and successes as she grows her first garden near the California seaside. She writes about battling insects, raising worms, and cultivating the perfect tomato. She also finds ways to include a little humor, telling her newly planted tomatoes, “All right troops, don’t let me down.”

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Trapp. My 6-year-old daughter loves The Sound of Music, so I wanted to learn about the real Trapp family. This book written by Maria herself is similar to the movie in more ways than I expected but still differs greatly from the big screen. I was struck by Maria’s description of the German invasion of Austria. I also found Maria to be a free-spirited visionary, deciding on a whim to buy a farm in Vermont and later to start a family music camp.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m currently rereading one of my favorite books. My son and his wife gave me a paperback copy for Christmas and I cheered. They didn’t realize how much I enjoyed this book. I whooped when I received my own copy. This is one of those books that the movie did it no justice. A must read. Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing is beautiful, and her inner search during a difficult time brought out raw emotion, as well as healing. Since it’s MY copy and it’s a paperback, I’m highlighting beautiful word passages, and lingering on her thoughts.

Katie:

Out of Control by Shefalti Tsabary, Ph.D. The tagline to this book is “Why disciplining your child doesn’t work … and what will” so naturally I was intrigued. I’ve never been a big fan of parents wielding authority just because they can. I like to talk to my kids about their behavior, and what might be bothering them, instead of rushing to discipline. I’m only about halfway through this book but I’m liking the ideas presented. Dr. Tsabary says, “When we tackle the reason for the behavior, it automatically changes.” She challenges the traditional belief system that parents should hand down punishments and asks how such a structure can really lead to well-adjusted adults? I’m planning to include more book reviews of this book when I’m done with it, but I would already recommend it to any parents struggling with their children’s behavior and wondering if their current tactics are even making a difference.

Pretty Takes Practice by Charla Muller. In 2008, author Charla Muller found herself in the midst of a media firestorm when she released a book about being intimate, ahem, with her husband every day for a year. The idea for that book started when she offered the year-long gift to her husband for his 40th birthday. What she discovered in the process was that more than her sex life improved as a result, and so she wrote about it. A funny thing happened once she was catapulted to fame, however. Instead of reveling in her success, she found herself more self-conscious than ever before, particularly when it came to her appearance. Strangers on social media and message boards discussed her weight, her hair style and if she was “pretty enough” to deserve sex for a year. Muller herself began to question the way she looked and how it was portrayed to the rest of the world and so she decided to make some changes. She lost 60 pounds and delved into how to make her physical appearance better reflect her inner self. Pretty Takes Practice chronicles this journey, with some added tips on beauty from Muller’s Southern upbringing. While I’m not in total agreement with Muller’s emphasis on the outward appearance of women, I am finding this book amusing, light-hearted and a fun reminder that we can always change what we don’t like in our lives — no matter what the source.

Lori:
Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings by Michelle Knight. This memoir uncovers the tumultuous life of its author. From the first to the last page, I found myself rooting for her and amazed by her strength and courage. She tells readers about her rough upbringing, the hellish decade she spent trapped in Ariel Castro’s home after he kidnapped her, and her present-day life. While you read the book feeling sympathetic and angry that any person would have to go through as much as Knight, you find yourself proud of her and what she has become — a young woman whose goal is to fight for those who go missing every year.

Would you add any books onto the book reviews list? What book reviews have you recently done yourself? 

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Category: Book Reviews

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