When there were just a few days left in 2015, I resigned myself disappointedly to the fact that I wasn't going to meet my Reading Challenge. “Reading Challenge” you ask? For the past three years, I’ve made reading a deliberate priority in my life, and just as when on some New Year's Days I set out running a 5K, 10K, and half-marathon as running goals for myself, I’ve been setting myself book reading goals too.
There’s not much on television that I will watch happily with my 10 year-old daughter. The laugh tracks on iCarly, Dog with a Blog and the ilk make me scream silently; but she’s years away from being ready for the Netflix, AMC and HBO shows I enjoy.
Everybody loves a winner, and that’s why recently I found myself watching events unfolding via Twitter, cheering on my team, thrilled to see my favourite speaking about his chances, seeing the fans of my competition doing a little trash talking…
My daughter likes organization and dislikes surprises. So when I went off-list for her 10th birthday and bought her an adult colouring book and a set of gel markers, the reaction was not exactly gracious.
“I’m not a baby! Why would I want a colouring book?” she demanded.
I love teenagers. Really… no sarcasm font required. They’re such a fascinating mix of bravado and vulnerability, developing their own sense of self and sense of humour. They’re fun and funny… but they are not communicative. Without real effort on my part, I think my own teen boys could devolve from full sentences to caveman grunts in a matter of hours.
Books are a great way to communicate with your teenager, and these are my top five tips for making that connection.
I remember about a year ago reading a story about a 24-hour ATM that sold cupcakes in New York City, and thinking that absolutely nothing could be better in a vending machine than fresh pastries with icing.
I was out recently with a group of friends and talk turned to summer getaway plans. I heard about couples getting away to California, family reunions in Spain, and girls’ weekends in London and Paris. My own summer plans include a lot of driving to ballparks and soccer pitches, and avoiding the commuter nightmare that’s bound to come with the PanAm games in Toronto. I’m super fortunate to have a family cottage that I’ll escape to when I have a few days, and baseball tournaments will turn into family road trips, but Knoxville, Tennessee is no Paris, France.
This time of year, we’re reminded of all of the wonderful things homegrown in our province, Ontario. I love bringing what’s fresh and local into my home so why not bring fresh and local homegrown bounty into your book club too? We often overlook the talent in our own backyard.
Ah, April Fool’s Day. I’ll leave the gags to the kids, thanks. I’m more interested in sharing with you some of my favourite (writing) fools. And there's also long weekend coming, so why not skip seconds at the brunch table and get some "me" time with a funny read?
Around this time every year for a decade, my husband and I would throw our kids into the back of the car and commence the 18 hour drive to my parents' timeshare in South Carolina. For us, the actual road trip was as much a part of the vacation as was the destination, so we'd look for ways to make it enjoyable and memorable...and for ways to keep the kids entertained in those bygone days before laptops, iPads, and personal DVD players.
Less than a year ago I found myself at the saddest funeral I’ve ever attended. A neighbourhood boy, a friend of my son’s who’d been in his class for seven straight years until they’d drifted off to different middle schools, had died. The death of any fifteen year-old boy is tragic, but this was even more heartbreaking because he’d committed suicide after struggling for years with mental illness that he’d shared with nobody outside his family.
Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and I’m a big fan of giving books as gifts on the day of love. I can’t think of anything more romantic than the thought put into buying a perfectly chosen book…maybe even a novel signed by a favourite author or a first edition. But if you don’t have the $1.5 million that you’d need to pick up a first edition copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for your Lewis Carroll fan, there are many other wonderful gifts you can find for the book lover in your life (or add to your own wish list!)
The Braverman clan sat down to their last meal together last week, and if (like me) you’re already missing the TV series Parenthood since its finale after six wonderful family-filled seasons, I have a suggestion for you. In fact, I have five.
These books all capture the drama, humour, love, and emotional rawness that is family: