Nonfiction, Parenting, Reading, Reviews

The Artist’s Daughter

If you’re a part of a Mother of Preschoolers (MOPS) group, chances are good you’ll be hearing about The Artist’s Daughter in the coming months. I am helping to start a MOPS group this Fall and so I had the privilege of reading the copy that came with our coordinator’s welcome package. I thought it was a great book, and I can’t wait to discuss it this spring with our MOPS group. (MOPS Plug: If you’re in South Carolina and interested in a MOPS group, let me know!)

The Artist's DaughterThe Artist’s Daughter is a memoir by Alexandra Kuykendall. Here’s the description from Goodreads.com:

“When Alexandra Kuykendall became a mother it was the beginning of a soul-searching journey that took her into her past and made her question everything she’d experienced–and a lot of what she hadn’t. The only daughter of a single, world-traveling mother and an absent artist father, Alexandra shares her unique quest to answer universal questions: Am I lovable? Am I loved? Am I loving?

In short, moving episodes, Alexandra transports readers into a life that included a childhood in Europe, a spiritual conversion marked more by questions than answers, a courtship in the midst of a call to be with troubled teens, marriage and motherhood–and always, always, the question of identity. Through her personal journey, women will discover their own path to understanding the shape of their lives and a deeper sense of God’s intimate presence within it.”

I was surprised at what a page turner this book turned out to be for me. Kuykendall writes with such honesty and infuses a desire to change and help others change in her writing. I related to her as a person, even though her family situation is nothing like mine. The importance of accepting yourself, embracing your identity, and relying on God in parenting is a key component to the memoir. Kuykendall also writes about how important her support system (a MOPS group) is to her parenting journey. I don’t want to say too much because I hope you’ll read this one for yourself! If you liked Jeanette Walls’s memoirs The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses, you’ll like this one, too. It doesn’t contain the stunning situations or details Walls’s memoirs include, but it is a well-written memoir about a daughter coming to terms with a parent as she becomes a parent herself.

 

Nonfiction, Reading

Happiness For Dummies (or Geniuses): A Review of Two Books on Being More Joyful

Disclaimer: I’m pretty slow when it comes to reading nonfiction. I have a pile of books on my nightstand at any given time, and the one that stays the longest in that pile is always the nonfiction book. On a side note, it would be more accurate to call my nightstand and the floor space beside it “The Stacks”. Please tell me I’m not alone in this. Well, I know I’m not, because you should see my dad’s bedside table. I don’t even know why we have tables next to our beds. Bookshelves would be so much tidier. Anyway, I am always in the middle of a nonfiction book. This is not  because I’m particularly scholarly, but because I read nonfiction at a snail’s pace (can snails read?). There’s no “scope for the imagination” in it. I like to think it’s because I’m really mulling over all the facts and advice that I’m taking in when I read nonfiction, but usually it’s just because I get bored with it quickly. It’s kind of painful to admit that. But there it is. However, there are some non-fiction books that I find enthralling. I’ll write about two of them today.

In my last post, If I Were A Facebook God, I wrote about how discouraging some Facebook statuses are on Monday morning. I, maybe rather frustratingly, spoke of finding some “joy sugar” to sweeten the hard days. I realize I may have left some of you wondering how in the world one finds that stuff. Well, there’s no way for me to explain all that on a book blog. Already, some of you are probably wondering, “When is she going to talk about actual books?” Enter, some self help books.

I don’t pick up many “how to” books. And any book that has “dummies” in the title is a book I don’t really want to read. Publishers would do better to appeal to my pride with titles like “Knitting for The Moderately Bright.” However, I’ve read a couple of books that have changed my perspective or helped me realize what perspective I need to take on being joyful in life. One of these is based on the Christian perception of joy (that happiness is based on circumstances but abiding in God and His love brings joy in any circumstance) and one is a non-religious book that equates joy and happiness as pretty much the same thing.