Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Reading List 2012 ...

So summer's finally here - though in BC, with the coldest, rainiest June in memory, it might be hard to recognize! We can look forward to better days, though - sunny days at the beach, at the cottage, hiking in the mountains, or resting on the back deck, hopefully with a new book or an old favourite close at hand.

I'm a true traditionalist when it comes to reading. I want a comfortable chair, a good cup of tea or a cold drink, classical music playing softly in the background and a real book in my hands. Talk about a relaxation response!

I will be doing a lot of writing and research for writing this summer but, between projects and during my three weeks away from work, I'm planning to immerse myself in a number of exciting new books. My good friend, Janet, and I will  choose a book to share at their cottage in northern Ontario but otherwise I intend to enjoy a really eclectic mix, most of them published over the last year.

Here's my list - I'm hoping you might enjoy some of them, too. If you have read any of these titles or have others you think the rest of us might enjoy, why not post a comment to let us know your thoughts?

1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
More than half of Canadians are introverts (a significant difference between us and our neighbours to the South where extraversion reigns supreme). Introverts are not necessarily shy people, rather, they are those who, when depleted, prefer to refresh by withdrawing alone to their rich inner worlds of impressions, ideas and feelings. Extraverts, on the other hand, are rejuvenated by interacting with the outer world of conversation, relationships and activities. (Understanding this difference has made a tremendous difference to the health and wellness of many a partnership!)
In, Quiet, Susan Cain, an American, puts introversion under a microscope, pointing out the hidden strengths of introverts and their potential contributions to and difficulties with current organizational strategies, identifying "successful" introverts, and suggesting how to better negotiate introvert-extravert differences. I've been waiting for this book for years! I hope it will help folk to understand, among other things, why the repeated, well-meaning intrusions of helping professionals into the homes of introverted family caregivers and their care recipients can be so terribly depleting.
2.  Calm Kids: Help Children Relax with Mindful Activities by Lorraine Murray.
This little book looks to be a very practical, hands-on guide to helping children recognize and cope with stress and tension. Lorraine Murray, a meditation and relaxation teacher and the managing director of a Scottish holistic health company called, Feel Good Therapies, offers simple explanations of meditation and stress, teaching tips, and age-specific exercises to use with kids. She also offers specific discussions of meditation for children with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.
3.  Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter by Lloyd Kahn.
I can hardly wait to read this one - in fact, I skimmed much of it at Granville Market over a latte before I even got home from the bookstore! I've always been fascinated with the idea of simplifying sufficiently to live comfortably in a very small space. (This interest was fuelled by a 6 month adventure spent travelling 23,000 miles around North America in an ingeniously-outfitted Volkswagen van in the mid-1970's.)
My dream, now, as I get a little older, is to build a tiny home on half an acre of wilderness somewhere not-too-far from Vancouver. The dream may never come to fruition but books like this collection of homes under 500 square feet can literally make my toes curl in anticipation.
4.  A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson.
Described as, "a tale of two journeys - two sisters embark on a bicycle trip on the Silk Road in 1923; a present-day Londoner befriends a homeless Yemeni man"( LA Times) and reviewed, thus, by Sara Wheeler of the New York Times Book Review, - 
" ... The dramatic opening of Suzanne Joinson's thrilling and densely plotted first novel offers only a suggestion of the tumult to come ... Joinson, who has herself travelled widely on behalf of the British council, controls her narrative with skill: this is an impressive debut, its prose as lucid and deep as a mountain lake ... Through Frieda and Eva and their companions, she explores notions of freedom, rootlessness, dislocation."
- this novel looks like the beginning of a great career for a new novelist.
5.  Freedom From Pain: Discover Your Body's Power to Overcome Physical Pain by Peter Levine and Maggie Phillips.
I am a great admirer of Peter Levine's contributions to our understanding of trauma healing. In this new book, he partners with pain specialist, Maggie Phillips, to offer a process for addressing unresolved emotional trauma held within the body, trauma that underlies much of our chronic pain. 
This book includes a CD of guided practices for healing, in addition to chapters on suffering, neutralizing factors causing chronic pain, the journey back from unmanageable pain, preventing and resolving the pain of medical trauma, and resilience, continued recovery and restoring the deep self.
6.  The Kaleidescope by Gail Bowen.
This is the thirteenth of the Canadian mystery series about, Joanne Kilborne, once a police officer, then a political commentator, and now a retiring political science lecturer at a Regina university. She is smart, direct, emotionally honest and struggles with all the issues that plague any working mom (and a few besides) so if you're looking for a new-to-you mystery series to start at the cottage, I would highly recommend this one.
7.  The Book of Kale: The Easy-to-Grow Superfood, 80+ Recipes  by Sharon Hanna.
I love and use kale, one of the world's most nutrient-dense foods, in just about any form but this new cookbook takes the eating of this superfood to a whole new level - kale chips, kale and potato torta, scalloped kale with browned butter and sage - mmm-mmmmm! Sharon Hanna not only offers 80+ recipes, she gives directions for growing kale organically, and for teaching kids to love to eat it (- a challenge for many mom's of kids who "don't like vegetables" but not for Hanna who has spent many years as an award-winning coordinator of an inner-city school garden program.) 
8.  Wild Hope: On the Front Lines of Conservation Success by Andrew Balmford.
At last, a collection of encouraging stories about our efforts to protect the natural world. While it is important to continue to assess the areas in which we are failing, I am grateful to my young friend, Alie, (currently collecting Master's thesis data on orangutan conservation in the forests of Borneau), for her reminder that we sometimes need hopeful stories in order  to fuel our continuing efforts. This looks like a book that will fuel many to continue their work and, perhaps, motivate others to begin.

So, there's my list. I hope that, no matter what you choose to read this summer, you will find refreshment and rejuvenation between the pages of a great book! Happy reading!

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