Virtual Playground: What are you reading?

Often times, as moms, we gather around the slide or the sandbox while our kids play to discuss issues that are on our minds. Since LiveMom is primarily an online community of local Austin moms, we thought we would start an online discussion about issues that are important to us and that we think may also be important to you. Instead of meeting at the park, we can have a little chat here online at our virtual playground.

This Virtual Playground is all about what we are reading and which books we would recommend to help us all get through this season of chaos, peace and joy. A good book often times can work wonders! What better than to curl up on a cold, wintry day with a good book? Or to open up that much anticipated present that has been sitting under the tree to discover it’s the book you’ve been wanting to read for the past year! (Hint: feel free to leave this post opened on your significant other’s computer to help them out with gift-buying ideas).

Want to chime in? Leave a comment below. Tell us what books you are currently reading and what you would recommend.

Katie: I’m currently reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and The Case for God by Karen Armstrong, both of which I’d recommend.

I’d also recommend: The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Paint it Black by Janet Fitch, absolutely recommend The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

Wish List: The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman. Please submit some good suggestions so I can beef up my wish list. Thanks!

Jennifer: On Friday, I finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I always feel like I am late to the game with the books I read, so maybe everyone has already read this one, but if you haven’t: get the heck to a bookstore or audiobook retailer of your choice! Since I started back to work full-time a few weeks ago, I’ve rekindled my love affair with audio books. I downloaded The Help from, based on raving reviews written on the site as well as the enthusiastic reviews of friends who also read it. To say that I was riveted and on the edge of my seat for much of the book is an understatement.

The story is set in a very racist Mississippi town in the early 1960s, and it follows a handful of families and their maids, who are all African-American. One enlightened and ambitious white woman decided to put together a book that detailed the stories of several maids in their town. Initially, she had only the support of one maid, but by the end… well, I don’t want to ruin the story for you. I cannot emphasize enough how amazing this book was. I laughed, I cried, my heart beat out of my chest. From snobby Junior League debutantes and plucky would-be authors, to hardworking maids fighting to make a good life for their families: this book has it all.  I adored the characters and was sad when it was over. You must read this book.

Next? I think I am going to go for something light: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is looking like the winner. Happy reading!

Lori: I’m reading Confessions of a Pregnant Princess by Swan Adamson. It’s good in a brain candy kind of way.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. It’s entertaining, fast-moving, and thought provoking.  I’m about 180 pages in, and i really like it and would recommend it.

Double Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.  I think I would recommend it, but I’m not sure yet. The recipes all call for sneaky veggies, and I need to take the time to make and freeze the various veggie purees that the recipes call for before I can try the recipes and recommend the book.

Rival Crockpot Slow Cooker Recipes For All Occasions. This has a lot of interesting crockpot recipes that go beyond pulled pork and queso. I have not tried any yet, but most of them look divine. I think I would recommend it.

Coming up:

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
AdvertisementThe Girl That Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

Wish List:

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman

Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper

Oogy : The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin

Nicole: I’m reading Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences by Leonard Sax M.D. Ph.D.

I bought it years ago and am finally getting around to reading it. Having worked for years at a nonprofit focused on girls and having a son, I want to learn all I can about how brain development might necessitate a shift in how I might automatically relate to and parent my child.

Considering I still haven’t touched my books I received from last Christmas, unfortunately I’m not in a position to make any recommendations! I love to read but find I have a hard time making it a priority.

Shannon: I just finished a book called A Life Revealed, which is a biography of Patrick O’Brian, the author of the Aubrey-Maturin series. I won’t recommend it unless you’ve read the series and are interested in learning more about the man who wrote it. I will, however, highly recommend the series, which most people under 65 who aren’t interested in the history of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars haven’t heard of, except for the snarky reference to it at the end of The Jane Austen Book Club. The series begins with Master and Commander (you may have seen the movie starring Russell Crowe) (not nearly as good as the book) and goes on for 20 more books. You can find many synopses online, so let me just say this try to persuade you to pick one up: I have enjoyed the Twilight series, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series, the Harry Potter series, and other, more literary pursuits. But the Aubrey-Maturin series is like one long novel that goes on for 20 books (and one unfinished at his death) … and it’s riveting. Imagine your favorite trilogy, but it didn’t end after the third book. It took me a year and a half to read them all, and I couldn’t wait to get the next one.

If that doesn’t do it for you, listen to what the critics have said: “One of the major literary works of this century….Only two other writers that this reviewer can think of have each created an entire, discrete and compelling world, a totally believable entity which one might wish to inhabit, and they are Joyce and Proust. It is not pretentious to place Patrick O’Brian in the first canon of literature….”—Kevin Myers, Irish Times. “O’Brian’s sheer literary elegance is dazzling.”—Chicago Sun-Times “In length the series is unique; in quality—and there is not a weak link in the chain—it cannot but be ranked with the best of twentieth century historical novels.”—T. J. Binyon, Independent

One caveat: O’Brian is writing of a time, and he, himself, is of a time (b. 1914). Although he creates some memorable female characters, the books are not about them, and sometimes they, and families in general, are given short shrift. If you can accept that and choose to read these books, you’ll be rewarded by entering an enchanting world and not having to leave it for 20 books.

Catherine: Let’s see, I just finished Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian. It was incredibly sad to read and made me angry, but I couldn’t put it down; I think I read the last half of the book in one evening. Before that one, I read both of Jonathan Franzen’s novels: Freedom and The Corrections, which I loved. I thought The Corrections was a bit tougher to get through, but I thoroughly enjoyed the crazy characters in both books. I have just started All Families are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland. I’m only two pages in so I have no idea how good it is yet!

I’d recommend: Two of my favorites are Violet’s Embrace by Michele Zackheim and Green Darkness by Anya Seton. Really, in my opinion, any books by those two authors are great reads. Seton is perfect for those of you who enjoy historical fiction and Zackheim is great for those who enjoy biographies.

Wish List: I still want to read Wally Lamb’s latest novel, The Hour I First Believed. And I just noticed that he has a Christmas novella out called Wishin’ and Hopin’. Come to think of it, I have been buying up all kinds of kid Christmas books to read to my kiddos. I think I need to read some of those trashy romance novels over the holidays that are centered around Christmas. Kind of like watching Lifetime television Christmas movies…. they are just too hard to resist. Any recommendations?

Catherine Prystup
About Catherine Prystup 2157 Articles
Catherine Prystup founded out of a desire to build a better community for Austin-area moms. She has three children, ages seventeen, eight and three years old.

1 Comment on Virtual Playground: What are you reading?

  1. I have heard that the 5 love languages original book for adults is supposed to be great too. I have it in my online shopping cart.

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