Life lessons appear to be the theme for this month’s book picks, perfectly apropos in a month that celebrates mothers.
What Teacher’s Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World
By Taylor Mali
What Teacher’s Make began as a former middle school teacher’s response to a man at a dinner party who asked him what kind of salary teachers earn. The poetic rant has been seen and forwarded millions of times via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Mali, a teacher’s advocate, creates a homage to teachers and shares the joys of teaching, as well as why they are so vital to today’s students and to the country. His take on teaching is sharp, funny, and reflective and will be treasured by teachers and anyone whose life has been impacted by a wonderful teacher.
Some AssemblyRequired: A Journal of My Son’s First Son
By Anne Lamott
In an earlier book, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year (1993), Anne Lamott humorously and poignantly chronicles the sometimes painful, often joyful ups and downs of raising her son, Sam, as a single mother. Twenty years later, when Sam announces that he is going to become a father, Lamott is stunned, disappointed, overjoyed, and hopeful. In thoughtful and at times hilarious detail, Lamott and a grown-up Sam struggle to balance their changing roles with the demands of college and work. They both forge new relationships with the mother of Sam’s baby, who has her own ideas about how to raise a child. Lamott writes about the complex feelings that her grandson fosters in her, recalling her own experiences with Sam when she was a single mother. By turns poignant and funny, honest, and touching, Some Assembly Required is the true story of how the birth of a baby changes a family.
30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans
By Karl Pillemer, Ph.D.
Hudson Street Press, $25.95
After a chance encounter with an extraordinary 90-year-old woman, renowned gerontologist Karl Pillemer began to wonder what older people know about life that the rest of us don’t. His journey led him to interview more than 1,000 Americans over the age of 65 to seek their counsel on all the big issues of life, such as children, marriage, money, careers, and aging. Their moving stories and uncompromisingly honest answers often surprised him. And he found that he consistently heard advice that pointed to these 30 lessons for living. Here, he weaves their personal recollections of difficulties overcome and lives well lived into a timeless book filled with the hard-won advice these older Americans wish someone had given them when they were young.
Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
By Pamela Druckerman
Penguin Press, $25.95
When American journalist Pamela Druckerman has a baby in Paris, she notices that French children sleep through the night at 2 or 3 months old while those of her American friends take a year or more. French kids eat well-rounded meals that are more likely to include braised leeks than chicken nuggets. And, while her American friends spend their visits resolving spats between their kids, her French friends sip coffee while the kids play. Druckerman, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, sets out to learn the secrets to raising a society of good sleepers, gourmet eaters, and reasonably relaxed parents. She discovers that French parents are extremely strict about some things and strikingly permissive about others. And, she realizes that to be a different kind of parent, you don’t just need a different parenting philosophy. You need a very different view of what a child actually is.
Poems for Life:A Special Collection of Poetry
Introduction by Anna Quindlen
What is your favorite poem? That is the question students from two fifth grade classes at a New York grade school asked famous people to whom they had written. Their idea, the students explained, was to put together a book that would benefit the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children. The students were also studying poems in class and wanted to know if anybody still, in fact, read and gained insight from poetry. Touched by this appeal to their hearts, minds, and memories, 50 celebrities responded to their inquiries, including Geraldine Ferraro, Allen Ginsberg, Rudy Giuliani, Peter Jennings, Angela Lansbury, Yo-Yo Ma, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Sawyer, Ally Sheedy, Kurt Vonnegut, and Tom Wolfe. The poems they offer range from John Donne to Langston Hughes but their letters all express hope that the students and readers of this wonderful gift book will read and take inspiration from the poetry of past and present.
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— Sue Boucher