What I Read in March

March has been interesting. We’re deep into the show Continuum, which does take up most of my reading time (post-Harley bedtime), but I did read four books this month (or I guess three and a half, because one of them was technically a novella).

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The Kingdom of Gods, N.K. Jemisin. Starring the trickster god Sieh, who featured heavily in the first book of the trilogy, the conclusion of the Inheritance trilogy was twice as long as the others and twice as heavy. It took on the themes of change – big, epic, world-shaking change, change in gods, the ultimate change of death. It could not have chosen a better main character, of course. How could anyone but a trickster lead a story like this? I am very impressed by Jemisin’s ambition and execution. There have not been many stories as original and epic as this – if any – since Tolkien first wrote the Lord of the Rings.

The Awakened Kingdom, N.K. Jemisin. This was the novella. It was about a baby godling finding her true nature. That may be all I need to say, yes? Except to add that it was an enchanting read.

The War of Art, Steven Pressfield. I’ve been told to read this by approximately one billion of the seven billion on the planet, so I did. Pressfield frames difficulties and obstacles in writing – psychological, primarily, really any obstacle – as “Resistance,” which is the enemy. The cure? “Turning pro,” as he calls it. Working through it. Sitting down and creating, even when the artist feels no inspiration. I do agree with that perspective, even if I still struggle with it myself. I do try to write every day, even though most of it never will see the light of day. And I think everyone has some kind of creativity that they need to serve – it’s just part of our humanity that we need to honor in order to be whole.

Siblings Without Rivalry, Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber. The authors of How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk felt that the interactions between siblings merit a separate book, and I agree. I LOVE How to Talk, and the lessons I took from it probably could be the subject of another entire post (acknowledging rather than dismissing feelings is my favorite, probably because it’s the least intuitive to me). Siblings applied the same concepts of their first book to the fraught topic of brother and sister interactions, which we are fast approaching, with Harley’s brother on his way in just a few short weeks. I appreciated the book a ton, but I also found that most of the things in there were familiar – mostly because my own parents used many of the same principles when I was growing up. But one that was interesting and challenging to me was that of avoiding roles. The idea is not to cast your kids into roles, especially in contrast to their siblings, because it can be limiting, to try to give them opportunities to act outside the “role” they might tend to acquire, whether because of birth order or temperament. So this is a bit difficult, because I do think it’s important, and by my reading, Faber and Mazlish agree, to appreciate each child for their uniqueness. But what is the line between appreciating that uniqueness and casting the child into a “role”? I’ll give myself as an example, and my sister, who hopefully will not mind. As a child, I was the quiet, sensitive, smart one. My sister was outgoing, energetic, socially adept. I suppose the authors would say that for two girls like that, develop the social skills of the quiet one, affirm her ability to connect with people, and for the outgoing one, develop her learning abilities and affirm her intelligence. But appreciate the strengths. Still, seems like a tricky line to walk. I suppose that is the benefit of not having to treat kids exactly the same, which is another major point of the books. Give each kid what they need, the authors argue. Don’t try to make things “equal” – mostly because it’s impossible! I think that is the approach that my parents took, which hopefully will make it easier for me to do the same thing.

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