The Week in Books 2008, No. 29

I read about Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time on the Suburban CEO website, and would absolutely second her recommendation. The book has a lot of great reminders of things you probably already know about setting goals, identifying your priorities, and so forth, but its real strength is the discussion about developing and nurturing your network of friends and associates. I think this book would be excellent for people in regular jobs or full-time moms alike. I actually really wish I had read it when I was in about 8th grade, it would have been really helpful, although maybe at that age I didn’t konw that I needed to know this stuff. I’m glad to have had the reminders and impetus this book gave me, and look forward to thinking more deeply about those concepts when time allows.

Although Teaching a Young Child to Read bills itself as a comprehensive reading instruction program, I would say it’s not as thorough as many others I’ve looked at, but would be a good supplement to other methods. The author breaks reading readiness activities and beginning reading steps into “kits” of things to focus on and games to play as you teach the concepts. I thought it was interesting to see which of the readiness steps Hannah has under her belt and which to keep looking for, and I also appreciated the author’s suggestions about keeping a journal together with your child (Hannah loves to tell stories, and I think it would be fun for her to see them written down) and using letter writing (dictation for younger ones who can’t write yet) and email to show another aspect of the communication of reading and writing apart from books.

I didn’t find Avalon as compelling as the other Seton books I’ve read recently, but I stuck with it because I’m interested in British history and Seton does a great job integrating her research into the narrative. The story suffers from thin characters and lack of pacing and flow, but the details of life in England, Iceland, and Greenland around the year 1000 AD were fascinating. If you’re not really into this aspect of history, or if you’re annoyed by treacle in love stories, you probably won’t like this book, but if you can overlook the faults and just enjoy the history, you might enjoy it.

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