For this set of mini reviews, I want to talk about some nonfiction books I’ve read fairly recently. Although both nonfiction, these are very different in their subgenres, one being a memoir and the other a self-help/parenting book. I had mixed feelings on both of these, but each are worth a read for their own reasons.
Ready to see the reviews?
From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein
Published by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group on July 10, 2018
Format & Length: audiobook, 9:54:05
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The high voltage, compulsively readable, fresh and funny coming-of-age story of a White House stenographer during the Obama years–a memoir full of glamour, drama, intrigue, romance, and heartbreak, by an exciting new voice.
In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein was just scraping by in DC when a posting on Craigslist landed her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. For five years, Beck was a part of the elite team of men and women who accompanied the president wherever he went, recorder and mic in hand. She got to know everyone from the White House butler to the secret servicemen, advance team, speechwriters, photographers, and press secretaries, and on whirlwind trips across time zones, she forged friendships with a tight group of fellow travelers in the bubble–young men and women who, like her, left their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president. But as she learned the ropes of protocol, Beck became romantically entangled with one of the President’s closest aides…who was already otherwise engaged… Set against the backdrop of a White House full of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the compulsively readable story of a young woman finding friends, falling in love, getting her heart broken, finding her voice as a writer, and finding herself in the process.
After hearing Beck Dorey-Stein on the podcast Sarah’s Book Shelves Live, I was curious to know more about this book and borrowed the audiobook from my library. The audio was excellent and a lot of fun to listen to, but as I found myself with less time to listen, I also borrowed the ebook to read in between. I don’t usually read that way, switching formats within the same book, but in this instance it worked.
My favorite aspect of this memoir was the author’s voice and sense of humor. It felt like I was reading an extremely well written journal. And the glimpses into the behind the scenes of the Obama administration were fascinating. I would have preferred to see more of that and less of the author’s personal life, but even so was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this reading experience. This won’t be a book I ever reread but I would be interested in reading more by the author.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.
Published by Ballantine Books on December 15, 2015 (first published 1987)
Format & Length: e-book, 689
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The perennial favorite for parents who want to get their kids to sleep with ease—now in a completely revised and expanded fourth edition!
In this fully updated fourth edition, Dr. Marc Weissbluth, one of the country’s leading pediatricians, overhauls his groundbreaking approach to solving and preventing your children’s sleep problems, from infancy through adolescence. In Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, he explains with authority and reassurance his step-by-step regime for instituting beneficial habits within the framework of your child’s natural sleep cycles. Rewritten and reorganized to deliver information even more efficiently, this valuable sourcebook contains the latest research on
• the best course of action for sleep problems: prevention and treatment
• common mistakes parents make trying to get their children to sleep
• different sleep needs for different temperaments
• stopping the crybaby syndrome, nightmares, bedwetting, and more
• ways to get your baby to fall asleep according to her internal clock—naturally
• handling nap-resistant kids and when to start sleep-training
• why both night sleep and day sleep are important
• obstacles for working moms and children with sleep issues
• the father’s role in comforting children
• how early sleep troubles can lead to later problems
• the benefits and drawbacks of allowing kids to sleep in the family bed
Rest is vital to your child’s health, growth, and development. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child outlines proven strategies that ensure good, healthy sleep for every age.
I came across this book from a list for new parents of the best parenting books to read (I don’t recall which list, as I’ve seen many). Although blessed with a baby who’s been a good sleeper since birth, I figured any and all tips would be helpful.
And that was just the right mindset I needed for this book. I didn’t actually read this cover to cover, only focusing on the chapters pertinent to my family’s current situation. Even that became repetitive as the author has strong opinions. But there was some good insight I was able to pull out and use.
For anyone looking to pick this up to help their child sleep better, do give it a chance. But I’d recommend reading the first four chapters, which are an overview of healthy sleep habits and how to set or fix them, and then jump to the chapter on what is appropriate for your child’s age range. Skip the rest, and don’t hesitate to skim through repetitive sections.
So, there you have my mini reviews of these nonfiction books! Did you read either of these books, and if so, what did you think of them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!