July Reads


This month I only read four books (three of which are pictured above), which is the least amount of books I’ve read in a month since February of this year. The reason is two-fold: first, I spent a good portion of July planning out the first six weeks of the school year, finalizing whether or not we had all the books, printing out maps and other things; and so on.

Second, July was a lot like February in a lot of ways. February was supposed to be recovery month from a nervous breakdown I almost had in January. February was almost like January Part 2, minus extreme panic attacks.  I didn’t start recovering until March and in some ways I’m still recovering – I still need a lot of sleep, I get stressed out easily, and whatnot. While I may not have come close to a nervous breakdown this month, I have had a massive upswing in anxiety and stress which halted my ability to read books. This starts a cycle because I get mad at myself for not reading – it’s my favorite thing to do and it’s how I collect information in order to solve problems – so when I can’t do it I feel broken and dysfunctional; which shuts me down further from reading (self-fulfilling prophecy) and I feel worse and worse.

Fun, right?

At any rate, I did read four books this month so it wasn’t a total wash:

Blackfeet Indians by Frank Linderman. This book went back to the library already, but I really enjoyed it and will use it in our Montana history studies. Linderman was an ethnographer who was adopted into several Native American tribes and wrote extensively about them, after countless interviews. This particular book was all about the Blackfeet Indians – it’s very anthropological in that it talks about clans and how children are named and whatnot; but still quite accessible for the average reader.

Smart But Scattered by Richard Guare and Peg Dawson. One of the books recommended by my autistic kiddo’s diagnostician way back when. If you have a child who struggles with executive functioning, this book can help immensely. I found it helpful for all my kids (minus the baby), as it helped me figure out who’s EF skills were developed where, where there was still development going on, and so forth. This book can feel a bit clinical at times; but it’s extremely details and thorough. You can essentially develop an EF “treatment plan” off of this book.

Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss: This is one of the books that really solidified my desire to homeschool and that I could actually homeschool my kids. It’s one of the perennial Catholic homeschooling books and is always a good read. I feel like I’m sitting down and having a cup of coffee with a sympathetic ear. There is so much good information in this book. If you can get a copy of it, I highly recommend it. Copies are hard to track down but if you wait; you can get one rather inexpensively (mine was $15 from Amazon, actually!). I like to read this book when I need a good reminder about why I’m homeschooling or when I’m feeling discouraged.

Kitchen Confidential – Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain: I was hiding out in the library as opposed to going to a social for rock club (which is like the canary in the coalmine of RAPIDLY RISING ANXIETY for me), and I wandered into the biography section to see what was available. My entire town essentially put holds on all of Bourdain’s books in the digital library after he died, so I knew that getting a digital copy was going to be a while. Happily, the physical library had this copy in, so I justified my avoidance by checking out this book.

Let me state a huge, giant, MASSIVE disclaimer here: if you don’t like profanity, if you are offended of detailed R-rated descriptions of various events; if you know that you prefer to have clean reading – stay away from this book.

And if you want an indication I’m probably not a good role model; I rather enjoyed this book.

If you took the Sopranos and put them in a kitchen; you’d have this book. Bourdain, like in his shows; was no holds barred, extremely blunt and open and held nothing back. Most of the book was his stories about working in various kitchens, going to the Culinary Institute of America, trying to “make it” and the various working hazards (like drug use) along the way.  There were a couple of chapters in there where it’s almost like he went on a HUGE tangent and talked about cooking equipment – knives, pots and pans, even towels; various dishes that people order and what not to order; herbs to use, and so on. Then he went right back to his stories.

The best part of this book is that he wrote exactly how he talked. So, I read the whole thing with his voice in my head, which was quite amusing. Despite the sordid subject matter; he was a fantastic writer and really could turn a phrase with dry sarcasm and great humor.

Recommended if you like The Sopranos or Anthony Bourdain, and aren’t easily scandalized.

Next month we start school and hopefully my anxiety can get a little more under control. I don’t have any massive plans for what I want to read, I figure I will let next month happen as it comes. That being said I do have two books coming in the mail – one about neuroscience and personality; and (yet another) biography of Tesla. 🙂

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