I’ve Read: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Battle Hymn of the Tiger MotherAfter receiving my wondrous Kindle from Mum for my birthday I promptly downloaded the current NY Times Best Seller List.  I was STARVED for reading.

First up was Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother, a memoir By Amy Chua recounting her parenting style as she raised her  two VERY successful Chinese/American daughters.

Chua is an amazing, engaging writer.  This book has no action, romance, mystery or thrills but it does have drama, heroines and a villain (as Chua often portrays herself).  For me this was a ‘can’t put it down’ kinda book.  I was hooked as I think many readers would be, by her honesty and passion and seemingly unfaltering self-belief in herself as a mother.  I mean, we all doubt ourselves as mothers at some point? right?  I know I do.  Ethan often puts me at crossroads where I simply don’t know how to proceed.

What this book unanimously did for me, was affirm that I’m not the only mother in the world who expects a ‘little’ bit more from her child.  OK, a lot more.  I have a talented son; he is crazy smart, an exceptional swimmer (he just made his first squad at 6.5yrs!), won Player of the Year in Soccer last year and is now proving to be a natural at Rugby, playing loosehead prop.  This is all great stuff, however he is a little boy; what he does without prompting is play DS, PSP, Wii, Moshi Monsters or laze around watching shark documentaries.  That’s all good too, but when it’s time to do some homework or training, he better turn it on.

The softly, softly positive affirmation approach to participation in sports or any pursuit holds no appeal for me either as an athlete myself or as a parent.  If my kids is messing around and not listening to you at practice, then by all means yell at him.  Better yet make him do 20 press-ups in front of his team I WON’T CARE!  That’s how I was trained as a young gymnast, mistakes led to reps.  Hundreds of repetitions.  It didn’t make me cry (every day), it made me hungrier to do better next time.  It made me work hard and it made me succeed.  Little boys are lazy, they NEED to be pushed and they thrive on it.  Making them work  that bit harder, run that bit further, read that little bit more doesn’t make them hate you, or feel weak.  Quite the opposite, it’s how they develop self-respect.

Achieving something they didn’t think they could do teaches kids not to accept the limits others impose on them.  Kids are rubber, they bounce back from defeat, and they are also elastic, they can be stretched without being wrapped in cotton-wool and told how fabulous they are in their mediocrity.

Obviosuly this approach won’t appeal to all, some children won’t respond to being told their ‘best’ isn’t good enough.  What this book will challenge parents to do (I hope) is wonder if a child’s ‘best’ really is THEIR best, or are you both just settling for an easy compromise?

Look what I’m Reading!!!

Finally, two days before we put the tent up, wherever it is that we decide to go camping (I know, I know these sorts of things are usually planned but I’m having an indecisive month) I win the library lottery.

I requested this series so long ago that I had forgotten about it quite honestly.  But there has been a serious book draught this summer and I’m in desperate need of some good reads before semester starts.  $1 for the request is  a small price to pay for reading the words behind the awesome TV series I feel!

Has anyone else read the Sookie Stackhouse series?

Books NOT to read this summer

As decided by moi.

Jacquelyn Mitchard – The Deep End of the Ocean

This book bears the ‘honour’ of being selected as the first ever inductee to the hallowed halls of Oprah’s Book Club.  But that isn’t why I read it, it just happened to be on my neighbours book shelf when I was looking for some holiday reads.

In a  nutshell, scatty mother, middle child gets abducted, not found for 9 years, she loses the plot, eldest son loses the plot, marriage failing, boy turns up, things don’t quite work out happily ever after.

I guess if one were to measure an authors success on the believability of the writing then this book would score pretty highly.  Her ability to really encompass the human experience of a family living through a child abduction is uncanny, but this is what made this book so dark,  depressing and maudlin.  It is seriously a MISERABLE book.  The boy comes home, still MISERABLE.  There is nothing gritty and exciting about this book, just the full gamut of human emotions as they range from terror to hope to acceptance to mild resignation blah blah blah.

I read the whole thing but it was a overdose of misery.  If you want to read to escape the real world avoid this book like plague.  On second thought, just avoid it all together to be on the safe side.

John Niven – Kill Your Friends

This book was one of my random picks from the library.  I found the page with the critics reviews and one of them lauded it the best book since Trainspotting.  Now I loved Trainspotting and have since read everything written by Irvine Welsh, but this book is in a whole other league, one that is completely f*ing insane.  Main character is a closet psycho in the music industry.  So combine good ‘ol American Psycho (a great read) with the British edge and ghetto-ness of an Irvine Welsh novel and you might get a good picture of the characterization Niven paints in this novel.  But the content is nuts.  Completely cold and deviant drugs, sex, murder and rock ‘n roll on a level of sickening depravity I have never read before.

It was definately a page turner, I finished this smallish book in 2 days of light reading – THANK GOD.  But do you really need to go there?  I say no.