The holiday season has arrived and most of us are right now pondering gifts to give family and friends. If picking out books for the recipients on your list is something you love as much as we do, we wholeheartedly recommend the following titles.
During the last year, we have been fortunate to read and review these books and have interviewed many of the authors. We were grateful to the writers for their generosity of time and thought their books were excellent. The following are excerpts of our reviews with links to the complete posts. We hope you find a way to add them to your Christmas list!
For many families, the college admissions process is painful. It is painful because we know our children will face rejection and, for parents, this can be far more bitter than any rejection we have suffered in our own lives. It is painful because the process is long, convoluted and, as parents, we feel utterly helpless. It is painful, in no small part, because our children are leaving. Finally, it is painful because, as Bruni makes so clear, the search for colleges had been blown out of any reasonable proportion and has come to be
…seen as the conclusive measure of a young person’s worth, a uncontestable harbinger of the accomplishments or disappointments to come. Winner or loser: This is when the judgment is made. This is the great, brutal culling. Continue reading here.
In her searingly well-written volume, Lahey shows how letting our kids experience setbacks, rather than helping them to avoid failure, is the best way for them to find their own motivation, direction and success. But Lahey is a middle and high school teacher and the mother of two adolescent boys. Teens are her thing. And while this book promises so much for parents of younger kids, it delivers for parents of teens as well. Continue reading here.
If you are sending a daughter out into the world, make sure she is tightly gripping a copy of Melissa Kirsch’s book. In a single volume, she covers the waterfront of a young woman’s life. She calls on experts and her own voluminous research to help dispense practical, even-handed, modern and sometimes humorous advice to the very real challenges young women face. It is almost impossible not to love a volume that has a first chapter subtitled, “Real Women Get Pap Smears, Eat Bread, and Negotiate Cease-Fires with Their Full-Length Mirrors.” Continue reading here.
The Her Campus Guide to College Life: How to Manage Relationships, Stay Safe and Healthy, Handle Stress, and Have the Best Years of Your Life by Her Campus editors
A year ago, I felt creeping anxiety knowing that I had precious time remaining with my high school senior daughter. In a few short months my husband and I would load up the car, help her make up her awkwardly high twin bed, kiss her goodbye, and watch as she walked back into the dorm to officially begin freshman year. I had spent 18 years of motherhood trying to impart my life lessons to her as best as I could. Trouble was, when it came to college smarts, the expiration date on my collegiate experience was long past due. Fortunately the young women behind the super-successful college website, Her Campus, have filled a knowledge gap with the publication of their book. Continue reading here.
Blades’ beautiful volume is the perfect gift of wit and wisdom for any girl/young woman, age 15-25, because of the messages of empowerment, understanding and optimism she so beautifully conveys. It is a little manual for life, and who doesn’t need that? But her book is even better with some of the back story. The slender and beautifully illustrated volume is very much a “mom story” that so many of us can relate to, and we had the pleasure of interviewing her to hear firsthand. Continue reading here.
How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims.
The first half of Lythcott-Haims’ book makes for painful reading. In tracing the path that parenting has taken over the past two decades, she shines a bright light on some of the ways we have let fear, competitiveness and our own insecurities cloud our vision of what is best for our kids. For anyone who has brought up teens during this era and, at times, over-parented (and my hand is raised high on this one) the pages of her book give rise to more than a few moments of painful introspection. Continue reading here.
The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults by Dr. Frances E. Jensen and co-author Amy Ellis Nutt.
Dr. Jensen, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, has researched brain development from the neonatal period through adulthood. She has said this about the prolonged time it takes for the brain to fully develop: “The teenage brain is not just an adult brain with fewer miles on it. It’s a paradoxical time of development. These are people with very sharp brains, but they’re not quite sure what to do with them.” Continue reading here.
When I first heard of Lieber’s Book, it was with a sense of misgiving. Fighting against the spoiling effects of upper middle class life has been something that has occupied my thinking for years and I was fairly certain that, as a mom of college kids, many of the answers for me had arrived in his book too late. I was both right and wrong. Lieber’s book does answer so many of the issues that surround bringing up grounded, thoughtful, respectful kids who have a perspective on their good fortune and compassion towards others. His was the book I wished I had a decade earlier, but it isn’t too late. Continue reading here.
I will put it right out there and say, unbeknownst to Workman, I will do almost anything (short of starving my family) to avoid cooking a meal. I hate everything to do with the kitchen, except my friend Katie. I like her. When I leafed through her gorgeous book for the first time, my recently-graduated-college son peered over my shoulder. Here was a book full of healthy, tasty and uncomplicated recipes and my 22-year-old child looked on with interest. He asked if he could keep my copy. Continue reading here.
If you have a twenty-something kid, or think you might ever have one, Dr. Jay has a message that should not be missed by our children, or us. Jay, a clinical psychologist in private practice, an assistant clinical professor at the University of Virginia, has this to say:
We know that 80 percent of life’s most defining moments take place by age 35. We know that the first 10 years of a career has an exponential impact on how much money you’re going to earn. We know that more than half of Americans are married or are living with or dating their future partner by 30. We know that the brain caps off its second and last growth spurt in your 20s as it rewires itself for adulthood, which means that whatever it is you want to change about yourself, now is the time to change it. We know that personality changes more during your 20s than at any other time in life, and we know that female fertility peaks at age 28, and things get tricky after age 35. So your 20s are the time to educate yourself about your body and your options. Continue reading here.
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Dr. Lisa Damour (available for pre-order, February, 2016)
Dr. Damour is a psychologist in private practice in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a clinical instructor at Case Western Reserve University and the director of Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls. She writes a monthly Adolescence column for The New York Times’ “Motherlode” blog and her forthcoming book, will be available in February, 2016. Read her post, Finding a Therapist for Your College Student here.
I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam
Vanderkam says this: “In the discussion of women’s life choices, we often focus on the crazy moments, or the difficult moments, which make sense. They’re darkly entertaining. These get the press.” For every woman who has wondered how or if it is possible to achieve a healthy work-life balance, Vanderkam has the answer. Instead of focusing on the dramatic moments she asked 143 highly successful mothers to record exactly how they had spent the 336 half-hours of one week. Continue reading here.
UniversityParent Guide to Supporting your Student’s Freshman Year: Packed with practical advice and insightful reflections for college parents ed by UniversityParent
This is just the kind of playbook we could use when we are getting ready to send our kids to college. The guide is a chronological road map (think What to Expect When You Are Expecting for 18 year olds, there is even a chapter entitled “What to Expect at Orientation”) that will help any parent through both the profound and the mundane. Continue reading here.
Finding the Right Colleges for You: 7 Steps to Researching & Evaluating Schools That Match Your Needs by Hélène Tragos Stelian
College-bound high school students devote countless hours to building “their lists,” the dozen or so schools to which they will ultimately apply. To get to their magic number, teenagers research and visit schools while, simultaneously, they look inward to see where their credentials and interests are most likely to match college requirements.There is nothing easy or simple about either of these two tasks. This book can help students throughout the stressful process. An easy-to-read and comprehensive resource for seniors in the throes of refining their list, Finding the Right Colleges can also support juniors who will soon be lining up at the college admissions starting line. Continue reading here.
For the over-21 crowd…
The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails edited by Steven Reddicliffe
Our friend and New York Times writer, Steven Reddicliffe, has assembled a collection of over 350 recipes of cocktails from among the paper’s writers, famous bartenders and mixologists. Drawing on the archives of the paper, this book is so much more than a cookbook for cocktails. It includes choice essays by notable Times writers and, as Reddicliffe says in his introduction, the paper’s vast trove of stores provided “an entertaining and genuinely useful chronicle of American drinking – a good amount of history, plenty of humor, and hundreds of appealing recipes.”
And, for the slightly younger parent on your list who just needs a good laugh…
Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations by Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler
This book takes high-brow science and low-brow humor to a whole new level. Full of quirky, witty humor and cartoons, this book digs deep into the core sciences―biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics―to help moms and dads everywhere solve for “y.” As in, “Y” is my child doing that . . . that . . . THING? And please, dear lord, is there a way to make them stop!? Anyone who’s ever wondered why the kid who plays Minecraft for hours can’t sit still for ten damn minutes to finish a math worksheet; who’s marveled at how their toddler always picks the most inopportune moment to poop; or who’s despaired of ever showering, sleeping, or finding a moment’s peace again will find this book a hilarious, enlightening, and relatable read.
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