Tag Archives: parenting books

Five Books from the Feminist Christian’s Bookshelf

Books. MomsicleBlog

Lately, as the Internet lashed out at me with side-eyed judgment from all angles — I’m not liberal enough, I’m not listening enough, I’m not politically active enough — I’ve found shelter again in the tome. I have a pile of books on my nightstand. (The wheel of fortune may stop on any mood at the end of the bedtime dance.)

  1. The Book of Common Prayer. I received this beautiful burgundy copy at my confirmation in New York City in 2006. I love this passage from the 1789 preface: “It is a most invaluable part of that blessed ‘liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,’ that in his worship different forms and usages may without offence be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire.” Lately I’ve been excited to be in deeper relationship with God through reading a bit each night.
  2. The Abortionist: A Woman Against the Law, by Rickie Solinger. I’m interested in the stories, and not the judgment, behind abortion. Ruth Barnett was a Portlander who performed hundreds of thousands of abortions in a well-run clinic in Oregon before abortion became legal, and the author examines abortion law and attitudes through Barnett’s case study. “Our history shows us that neither criminal statutes nor censorious public attitudes were ever sufficient to stop women determined to decide for themselves whether and when to become a mother.
  3. All About Love: New Visions, by bell hooks. I was reminded of my desire to read bell hooks while in the children’s section with my son, alongside her Happy to Be Nappy. We left with Grump, Groan, Growl for him and All About Love for me. “Living life in touch with divine spirit lets us see the light of love in all living beings. That light is a resurrecting life force.” Amen.
  4. Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma, by Nancy Samalin. I don’t want my kids to remember me as a yeller, but what’s a girl to do? “By their nature, children bring to the family environment disorder, aggravation, ambiguity, and turmoil. They also bring warmth, humor, boundless energy, and creativity. Loving parents wonder how they can encourage the latter while enduring the former.” Yes. And there are funny stories.
  5. Radical Acceptance: Embracing your Life with the Heart of a Buddha, by Tara Brach, Ph. D. An excellent companion to Love and Anger (why not approach anger from a hundred different angles?). And this books starts with words from the poet Rumi, that I shall etch on my heart:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

I’ll meet you there.


“Parent Hacks”: A Parenting Book I’m Not Going to Burn (Brain Explosion)

Parent Hacks by Asha Dornfest. MomsicleBlog

We need to support each other more as women. I’m retraining my brain to have a build-up rather than a teardown response when I hear about women doing amazing things. It’s hard to break habits. Like rubber bands, you stretch them and change their shape but they just go back.

This is a weird way to start a book review. But I love “Parent Hacks” author Asha Dornfest because she is unguarded and generous with her history and her support of other writers, women, and parents.

She listens deeply. And because of it she gives and receives goodness deeply.

Here we are having coffee and chocolate back in October with my friend Lauren of On Fecund Thought. (L to R: Lauren, Asha, me, Fairy Pig)

IMG_2829 (1)

Asha also doesn’t mind if you photobomb her book talk. (L to R: @beetothesea, chicken book, me, Asha. Photocredit: @saramabo)

Photobomb w Beetothesea and Asha Dornfest. Momsicleblog.

Asha started Parent Hacks back in 2005, when her now-middle-school daughter and high-school son were small. Her idea was that as parents we are all guessing at this monumental job, and that we all have instances of genius. Why not share them? Why not help others to simplify a problem that might be the nail in their tire? No need to be “expert” or judgmental.

You might remember that parenting books with few exceptions go in my burn pile. They are frenemies at best. Pretending to build you up, and then tearing you down with their sly put-downs.

We’re not telling you you’re a bad parent, the parenting books whisper. We’re just laying out what research and experience say, and letting you make the choice. If you’re a bad parent, that’s on you.

Not “Parent Hacks.” Asha’s writing style constantly assumes the best in you. She’s cheeky and fun. She talks as an equal, not an illuminati. Her book should sit closer to “Hyperbole-and-a-Half” than “1-2-3 Magic” on the bookstore shelves.

“Parent Hacks” isn’t going to whisper sweet insults to you at a trunk show. Nope. It’s selling the extra baby gear on Craigslist to pay for summer babysitting and a case of Pabst.

And I’ve used the tips.

I started storing breastmilk in an ice cube tray so it’s easy to pop out and put in a plastic bag, and I’m using those silicone muffin tins for everything except for baking muffins (opening bottles, bath toys, etc.)

“Parent Hacks” has made me feel like maybe it was worth it to have another baby—because finally there’s a book that talks to me like I know something. Not to mention that you don’t have to wait to introduce peanuts anymore. If it weren’t for Zika virus, this would really be a sweet time to get knocked up, friends. Spoiler alert, if I know you and you’re procreating, I’ll be sending you a copy of Asha’s book. I’m sorry if you were hoping for “1-2-3 Magic.”


Asha asked for my address and sent me a free copy of “Parent Hacks.” But she didn’t make me write about it and she especially didn’t make me say nice things. It takes a good book and genuine friendship to make me do that. Even then I often don’t get around to writing things down these days. So this whole thing is on me.

Useful Summaries of Popular Parenting Books

Yesterday I was at Powell’s Books, the independent bookstore and my first true love, browsing the staff picks section. I go in sometimes to scan the back covers of books and pretend I’ve read them. Amidst the curated menagerie was NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children.


I picked it up, though this is where I normally keep my parenting books:

fire. MomsicleBlog

(It’s warm and cozy.)

I stupidly read the back cover of NurtureShock and the familiar nauseous anxiety took over: I’ve been doing it all wrong and it will take a lot of my sleep-deprived time to read this book and figure out what all the good parents are up to.

Are you exhausted, too? Would you rather watch American Ninja Warrior than pick up Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids after working and parenting your kids all day?

Perhaps you are sleep-deprived because you have a baby–your first–and you’ve got a lot of books on your wish list to read, but not enough caffeine in your system to read them at the pace that your type-A personality would like.

Well I’m here for you.

Before I sent NurtureShock‘s friends to the ashy inferno, I compiled these convenient summaries so that you can feel like you’ve gleaned the core messages from some of today’s most revolutionary titles.

Useful Summaries of Popular Parenting Books

What to Expect the First Year   Everything will go terribly wrong.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother   Stupid people are nice to their entitled children.

The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind   Your child’s mind is a puzzle, and good parents have all the pieces.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children   It’s too bad you parents spend all your time doing everything wrong.


You told your kid ‘Good Job’?! YOU. MONSTER.*

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk   Kids are just as sh*tty now as they were when we first wrote this book in 1982.

Bringing up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting   She has coffee and breast milk with well-mannered future diplomats at midnight.

The Attachment Parenting Book   The children are you.

On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep   Everyone else has more balls than you and they’re getting more sleep.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution   We have a miracle anti-balding tonic, too, if you’re interested.

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood   Your married, childless friends heard a story on NPR about this. They’ll know what its deal is.

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2–12   If you can’t be consistent, it’s your fault.

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason   You and your adult desires. Eye roll.

If you’ve read some books I haven’t gotten to, please share.

*Submitted by my friend Brita, who actually read the whole thing. Thank you, Brita.