Monday, May 19, 2008

Book Review: The Tao of Fertility

When The Parent Blogger Network asked me if I wanted to review this book, I wasn't sure that I should. I was unsure for a couple of reasons, the first and foremost being that I'm male, and as such, I can't get pregnant... so why bother, I thought? Another reason that I had for not being sure that I should give it a gander is because Mrs Gunfighter and I are done having children.

In the end, I decided to review this book because I like to see things from points of view different than my own... and of course this is a seriously different view of pregnancy for me.

As you all know, I am an advocate of fully participatory fatherhood, and I tried as best as I could, to empathize with Mrs GF when she was pregnant. You know something? with all of the good intentions and sensitivity that I could muster, I CAN'T really imagine what it must be like to be pregnant. No way.

So. I decided to give this book a try.

First Impressions: "Oh, Lord... another touchy-feely, earthy-crunchy, new age, neo-hippie book on how to be spiritually holistic etc..." I figured that this would be another book that could be summed up by saying: "Watch what you eat, rest, drink water, exercise and all will be well"

I was wrong.

Clearly, I can't get pregnant, but there are things in this book that are beneficial to just about anyone... not just for women who want to have a baby.

The authors were kind enough not to fill the book with jargon that would leave my eyes bleeding and my head hurting. They wrote in plain speech, and didn't appear to try to dazzle the reader with flashy prose. On the contrary, this book is written so that a person with no knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine could understand it, and glean very helpful... and healthful information.

The information in the book even covers pre-pregnancy dietary information (including suggested menus and recipes), and self-applied accu-pressure, to promote health and fertility. By the way, I suggest accu-pressure with a partner. It's more fun. Yeah.

OK, so the book is good. The suggestions are good. The presentation is good.

Done, right?

Not yet.

There are other aspects of this book that I enjoy. The first being the stories of women about their journey toward pregnancy. Some of the stories were just heartbreaking. Other aspects that I enjoyed were post-partum suggestions on diet and exercise, as well as mom-specific nutrition.

I am going to be honest here and say that I thought I was fgoing to read this book and shoot it full of holes. I am rather pleased to report that this isn't the case here.

The authors, Daoshing Ni, Ph.D, and Dana Herko derserve full marks for their product.


This book review is sponsored by The Parent Blogger Network and HarperCollins Publishers. This review is cross-posted at my regular blog, Gunfighter: A Modern Warrior's Life.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Book Review: Raised By Wolves, by Christie Mellor

At the very start of this book, author Christie Mellor did something that few authors do for me. She made me laugh. She made me laugh aloud.

In her own wonderful and very humorous way, Christie Mellor gives young people some very cogent advice, while not sounding at all preachy, dry, or boring. She takes less than 250 pages to tell all twenty-somethings things that it took me almost 40 years to learn. Just think of the possibilities if I had learned them early on.

Mellor gives advice on basic living practices, such as the importance of keeping your apartment clean, how to clean your bathroom, and why it is important to make your bed, and the myriad uses of baking soda. Baking soda! Did you know that you can remove coffee and tea stains with that stuff? I didn't. I didn't know that you could also use it to kill fleas. who knew? Well, Mellor knew enough to share it with all of us.

She goes on to give advanced life-lessons about the working world; from not being a "fawning bootlicker" to not sharing the intimate details of your love life with people you barely know. Mellor gives directions to the young in ways that will make you laugh aloud, AND make you think (or at least, nod your head sagely).

Reading this book at age 44 was like a trip down memory lane. When the author talks about drinking to excess, and how you care to be remembered, I immediately thought back to my hard-partying days in The Marines. It made me think about the several old friends of mine from those days whom, in my memory, will always be pictured as roaringly, life-of-the-party drunk... or violently vomiting in public places.

To be sure, this book has a lot of lessons in it that can be categorized as "What Not To Do When You Are An Adult", but it doesn't spend all of it's time as a humorous "Don't" list. There are other things that young folks in anything close to polite society ought to know. Dinner Party etiquette; visiting invitations; hosting a party; basic recipes for the novice cook; and how to make a proper Martini (yes, it IS important to know how to make a Martini). Get this, she'll also teach you how to draw a Martini... see? (I drew this 10 minutes before posting this review. Useful, see?)

One of the most important chapters is the one about finance. Look, in today's economy, things are tough for families... we already know that, but we shouldn't assume that things are free and easy for young adults, especially as they often start amassing horrendous debt early in life. Mellor's advice on money is sound. So, pay attention.

The bottom line on this book is that there is a lot of good information in it, and it would be useful to a young person who has just left or is about to leave his parent's home or graduate from school. It would also be every bit as useful to that person in their thirties or forties, you know the ones, who just don't have a clue.

It's a keeper... but not for me. I'm sending MY copy to my college freshman daughter (that is, after I copy that soup recipe!)


This review was sponsored by the Parent Blogger Network and the fine folks at HarperCollins Publishers