Books Read in April 2012

Parenting Gifted Kids by James R. DeLisle and The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids by Sally Yahnke Walker

My mom has strongly suggested that I read about gifted children to help get ideas on raising my own child so I picked these two up.

I wasn't impressed with the first one, not that it was bad, just that I didn't learn anything new that I hadn't known from when I read my mother's stash of such books when I was a pre-teen. Maybe one concept. The best part was the list of current online resources in the back that I will go ahead and delve into. If you haven't read about the topic before, then it's still a good introduction.

The second one contained the same kind of information, but also had multiple additional details and ideas, some of which were new to me. It also gave me a better idea on how to deal with the school system in the future.

Drawing and Painting Fantasy Figures by Finlay Cowan

I enjoyed seeing and reading about how the art could come together but am not keeping it for future purposes.

The Last Lecture by Randy Paush

I'd heard about Randy, of course, back when the book was published and the big deal was made of it, but hadn't read it. The stories, clear writing, and concepts were great. It was poignant, yes, but I really enjoyed reading this practical and uplifting book.

The Innovator's DNA by Clayton Christensen, Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen

What made this book special was that it was based on research and talking to many different companies. The actual information was not particularly surprising and fit in with a lot of other creativity and innovation work I'd read. However, it was presented very well, with stories, key points, and tips. I also especially liked how they tied individual tendencies to company tendencies. 

Dreamscapes Myth and Magic by Stephanie Pui-Mon Law

This art instruction book was rather beyond what I needed - it was mostly about getting great watercolor effects and color in realistic fantasy paintings. But you start with a pencil drawing and I can't do that yet. I did enjoy the discussions about the fantasy creatures and notes on how to vary them.

Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

I had read this at one point, but didn't remember much. The key takeaway this time was the idea of making a conversation safe. Some of what they talk about sounds so hard - to be the reasonable one - to focus on the end desired state instead of getting any acknowledgement of being right or getting to say your opinion or any of that. It definitely gave me some new ideas on how to accomplish more difficult conversations. I even used it deliberately a couple times between reading it and the end of the month, to good effect.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

I'd heard a lot about this book but had never read it. I could see why the idea of resistance has resonated with so many and it did shift my view a little to give the feeling, which I've definitely had, a name.

Titus Groan by Mervyn Laurence Peake

Oh my god, I'm actually done with the book. I've been slowly moving through it for the last few months.

The language is amazing and visually dense. Tombstones of teeth and more turns of phrase I would never have imagined. The characters are so much outliers that they are wince inducing but still believable. On the other hand, there really wasn't much of a story, but that seemed to be part of the point.

I can't imagine ever recommending this to anyone who isn't in love with words for their own sake. I'm debating whether or not I'll read the sequel, Gormenghast, or not. If I do it will be after a break!

Fool by Christopher Moore

Delightful mish-mash mess of irreverance and Shakespeare's King Lear. My husband had been trying to get me to read it for a while, so I finally moved it to the top of my to read pile and got into it and I'm glad I did.

The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey

I have enjoyed her Elemental series in the past and was surprised to realize I'd had this one for a while and never actually read it. An enjoyable read, but not particularly special.

The Serpent's Shadow and The Gates of Sleep and Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey

These were rereads of the first three in the Elemental series and I enjoyed immersing myself in them again. In order, they were based on Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, although the first you don't realize the source until almost the very end.

Reserved for the Cat by Mercedes Lackey

I had somehow missed picking up this one of the Elemental series even though it had been out for a while. I'm still not sure what fairy tale this one was based on, if any, although I recognized the motif of a shapechanging battle where a cat tries to trick a prideful opponent into becoming a mouse. I liked some of the twists of this one.

In the Line of Fire by Jerry Weissman

I might have picked this one up during a free or discounted promo because I don't remember buying it. But I'm glad I did because it was absolutely excellent. The book gives very detailed ways to think about and see what's happening when someone asks you a tough question so you can respond in a way that improves your credibility and lets you control the tone of the situation. Most of the examples are from political debates but he does a good job of showing how the principles are valid in other areas. I'll be taking some detailed notes on this one.