Wednesday, September 29, 2010

3 Things: Books That Have Rocked My World

When I say "rocked my world" what I mean is that they had such an impact on me that I consciously made some major changes in my life because of them.  I think they've made me a better mama and a more conscientious human being,  I've stuck to non-fiction here (otherwise I could never narrow it down to three!) and avoided religious texts (scripture is a different thing altogether), so here goes:

I have to admit I am not quite finished this one, yet, but already I am begging my husband to read it and to consider quitting his job and moving to a farm to live off the land with me.  Okay, I actually don't really want to move from our lovely little rowhouse in the city because I love it here.  But I am doing some major soul-searching and reconsidering of my role in our extractive consumer culture.  I am convinced now that a consumer economy is NOT the best thing for this country or for its families and I am re-dedicated to urban homesteading and trying to be a productive household.  It starts with our little front yard vegetable garden and our elementary forays into canning and on my to-do list: start sprouting, fermenting and learning about top-bar bee-keeping.  But not only that, I am trying to review every single one of my purchases to see if there is anyway I can do without, get it second-hand, or barter for it.  Why?  It's not just about homemaking, it is about reclaiming our true purpose here.  It's about focusing on the most important things: working with and strengthening your family, re-establishing meaningful community relationships, nurturing the creative spirit, and avoiding the distracting and anesthetizing affects of materialism.  You NEED to read this book.  If anything, it is thought-provoking, but I posit that it is life-changing.

2. The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Have I praised this book enough?  Michael Pollan breaks down our American food culture and re-enforced my decisions to eat organically-grown, local produce, grass-fed, free-range meats, and home-cooked (homegrown, if possible) meals.  I must admit that this book didn't necessarily change my life, since I've been essentially striving to eat this way for years, but it distilled all this interesting, amazing information about why it is so important to do so.  Even my dad, lover of SPAM and fast food and cheeze whiz, read this book and grudgingly admitted that it was interesting (though I believe it failed to convince him to abandon his naughty food habits).  I firmly believe this is information everyone should have, and then they can make their food choices accordingly.

3. Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto
I am a product of public education and I was a little skeptical when my friend Ginger thrust this book into my hands, urging me to read it (she also did that with Radical Homemakers, but by then I had learned to trust her recommendations).  In this collection of essays from an award-winning teacher in the New York City public school system, I learned about how our education system is set up more to train robots to conform to corporate needs (like cogs in a machine) than to encourage true, internalized learning.  He points out how the curriculum is imposed on students, with no regards for their individual strengths, interests or needs and how students learn that following directions is more important than thinking critically, and that grades and test scores are more important than knowledge and life-application.  It is the book that essentially convinced me to seriously consider homeschooling my children, and though that is not a realistic option for most people, I think that the information presented in this book would be helpful to any parent navigating the waters of childhood education.

And because I'm a cheater, I have two runners-up.  I won't go into details, but I also highly-recommend these reads to every parent!
Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene by Ingrid Bauer
The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby by William and Martha Sears

And share with us what books have impacted you!


MaurLo said...

Well, I loved two of your three so I can't wait to dive into Radical Homemakers! I must also add that after mocking EC for three years reading "Diaper Free" has totally changed my opinion and life with baby #3. Thanks for sharing and inspiring! I started "Last Child in the Woods. Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit disorder" tonight. I'll let you know what I think in a few days...or weeks...or months!

One said...

My mom speaks of Gatto with religious fervor. So much so in fact, that I've been putting off reading it! :-P But if you, Ginger and MaurLo all love him, then it's high time I tackle that sucker!

Rachel Hagen said...

My little guy is only four months. But my bible these past four months was Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child. So helpful for me. I've also really enjoyed Nurture Shock.

MamaM said...

All those books sound great, but I have to admit that I haven't read a full book since Olive was born eight months ago. I, too, love the Sears' books and am (sort of) working on The Baby Book right now.

MJ said...

Yes Yes Yes to all three!!