I have an
unhealthy totally natural obsession with addiction to interest in books. My nightstand right now has no fewer than 8 books that I am in various stages of reading. My Kindle library overfloweth.
If you’re like me, always looking for a good read, or perhaps looking for inspiring or thought-provoking words to gift to your friends and family for the holidays, check out these five new releases —
and enter the giveaways to win a free book! What’s cooler than a free book?? (Giveaway has ended).
There are two great new books out right now about mindful parenting. If you’re looking for an introduction to parenting with greater presence and equanimity, and less drama and yelling, check out these new releases:
No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
I am a huge fan of Dan Siegel, UCLA psychiatrist and founder of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (and author of Brainstorm and The Whole-Brain Child). In No-Drama Discipline, Siegel and Bryson ask us to rethink the entire concept of discipline — is it about punishment, or, as the word itself implies, is it about teaching?
Clearly, Siegel and Bryson argue it is the latter, and they outline helpful strategies for parents to approach discipline as a way to teach their children and to support healthy brain development. Our children’s brains are changing, changeable, and complex. When we can see that our children’s misbehavior is often the result of an immature brain, we can be more compassionate in our responses, and help our children develop cognitive strategies for self-regulation.
Siegel and Bryson provide detailed strategies for two primary components of effective discipline — connecting and redirecting. They show us how to find the why behind our children’s behavior, to communicate empathy and validate our children’s feelings, to listen to our kids, and then redirect (or instruct) when their minds are finally in a place to receive our words. It’s ultimately an approach that teaches insight — both parents’ insight into their children’s minds, and children’s insight into their own minds — and empathy.
“The moments when discipline is called for are actually some of the most important moments of parenting, times when [you] have the opportunity to shape [your] children most powerfully…. [They are] opportunities to connect with your children and redirect them toward behavior that better serves them and your whole family.”
Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters, by Carla Naumburg, Ph.D.
Parenting in the Present Moment is a great complement to No-Drama Discipline and an honest, funny introduction to mindful parenting. Naumburg describes her initial resistance to practicing mindfulness and meditation (thinking it was for “hippies who didn’t have their sh*t together”), but then reveals how it transformed her as a parent.
“Mindfulness is about making a choice, over and over again, to pay attention to whatever is happening in the present moment without judging it or wishing it was different.” – Carla Naumburg
I love Naumburg’s honest and relatable descriptions of motherhood and the times when we’ve ALL realized we don’t have our sh*t together. She provides helpful advice for connecting with our children (similar to Siegel and Bryson’s book), but she also details the many ways we can connect with ourselves. She has two entire chapters devoted to the practices of staying grounded and staying present, through self-care and compassion, and slowing down and simplifying. Naumburg reminds us that “finding some head- and heart-space for ourselves is crucial to the work of parenting.”
And for us busy parents, there are lovely cheat-sheets and quick reminders and practices at the end of the book!
Carla has generously provided me with a copy of her book to give away to one reader! Enter below to win a copy of Parenting in the Present Moment: Giveaway has ended.
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For Teachers and Learners
How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why it Happens, by Benedict Carey
So it turns out that a lot of the advice about how we learn and study best is wrong!
Always study in the same place? Well, research actually shows that you should vary the locations in which you study (because it provides the brain with more retrieval cues for the information).
Sit down and study with intense and focused concentration for a good chunk of time? Well, research demonstrates you’re better off studying in shorter bursts of time, and interleaving (the fancy term for “mixing things up”) your study of different (yet related) topics and subjects.
These are just two of the many ideas about learning and studying and testing that Benedict Carey debunks in How We Learn. I was reassured that many of the findings he shared are practices that I teach my students: self-testing as a study strategy (as opposed to just rereading notes, which is virtually useless!), taking breaks to allow insights and solutions to incubate, and, perhaps most importantly, getting adequate sleep.
Carey provides lots of helpful strategies for learning, and not just in school. As he says, “the collective findings of modern learning science provide much more than a recipe for how to learn more efficiently. They describe a way of life.”
For Big Dreamers
Playing Big, by Tara Mohr
I have just discovered Tara Mohr, and I am LOVING her work! Her new book Playing Big reads like a great combination of Lean In and Daring Greatly — she encourages women to pursue their dreams, combat shame and unworthiness, and succeed in their endeavors without leaning in so far that we lose touch with our core selves. Mohr defines “playing big” as “living with a greater sense of freedom to express your voice and pursue your aspirations.”
In Playing Big, Mohr provides us with guidance for connecting with our callings, silencing our inner critic, listening to our inner wisdom, working with our fears, and ultimately taking bold “leap” actions to accomplish the important work we want to do in our lives. She identifies many of the ways women often unknowingly “play small” — in our “good student” habits, in the language and words we use, and in our dependency on praise and fear of criticism.
I especially loved Mohr’s description of the two different types of fear — the fear that is ego-driven (the fear of failure), and the fear that comes from taking bold, awesome, and inspired action. She teaches us how to tame “lizard-brain fear” and embrace the “life-giving fear/awe” we experience when we play big. She also provides lots of helpful journaling prompts and questions to get us in touch with our callings (whether that’s a new career or simply a new hobby) and our inner wisdom.
I’m super excited that Gotham Books (Penguin Group) has provided me with a copy of Playing Big to give away to a lucky reader — you can enter below! (Giveaway has ended)
For Deep Thinkers
Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, by Matthew D. Lieberman
The functional MRI has got to be the coolest invention of the last decade, and Lieberman’s book is full of the coolest research findings it has generated. Lieberman shows us how our brains are indeed structured for human connection — in fact, social thinking (about other people’s minds and motivations) is actually the default mode of the brain.
Lieberman cites all sorts of fascinating research about how the brain responds to social rejection, how it acts when we cooperate with others, how we make sense of others’ mental states, and how we make sense of our selves. He concludes with several chapters of recommendations for how these findings can improve our social lives, our work lives, and our education system.
I was most struck by the research findings about altruism. We generally assume that our default response is selfishness — a Darwinian impulse to save ourselves rather than help others. But recent studies that analyze the brain while contemplating the Prisoner’s Dilemma (where cooperation ensures a smaller reward shared by everyone, and non-cooperation results in a big reward for you and nothing for your partner) indicate that the brain’s pleasure and reward centers are activated more by cooperation than self-interest. In fact, studies show that people generally opt to cooperate over a third of the time (so much for “everyone” being selfish).
“Providing social support, even when doing so puts us in closer contact with someone else’s distress, is reinforced in our brains. It feels good to help those we care about…. Just imagine what things would look like if we were taught about this in school and we understood that altruistic helping is just as natural as being selfish.”
Clearly, there are a lot of great new books out there to help you parent mindfully and intentionally, learn effectively, live socially, and play big-ly. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did!
What great books have you read lately? I’m always looking for a good read! 🙂
Disclosures: I received complimentary copies of Playing Big, Parenting in the Present Moment, and No-Drama Discipline from the authors and/or publishers. The above reviews are entirely my own, and I have not been compensated for them or for this post — I get lots of free books, and I only promote the ones I love and think you will love too!
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