Trilingual by Six by Lennis Dippel MD (Review)

Trilingual by Six is a cool little self-published book that I found at the library. Using the data that kids learn languages better and more easily than adults, Dippel writes about his quest as a monolingual older father to get his children fluent in at least three languages by age six. The book is part memoir, part advice on how to do it. Dippel is married to a native Spanish speaker, and he writes that his two children can speak Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and English.

A Fine Young Man by Michael Gurian (Review)

If you’ve got a boy who is approaching teen years, I highly recommend Michael Gurian’s A Fine Young Man. I’ve read and recommended his groundbreaking book The Wonder of Boys before. Gurian’s oeuvre on raising boys is the best I’ve read. He has a philosophy and method to teach boys how to become good men, a method which is grounded in tradition yet answers to and acknowledges the advantages of our changing culture. With A Fine Young Man, Gurian takes it further by focusing specifically on the adolescent years, breaking it down into three stages: Stage 1, the Age of Transformation (9-13); Stage 2, the Age of Determination (14-17); and Stage 3, the Age of Consolidation (18-21). Gurian explains that a boy’s body begins to develop before his mind, and that boys are dealing with chemical changes throughout their entire adolescence, changes that adults sometimes fail to understand.

The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutuskake (Review)

Readers who like historical fiction might enjoy Lynne Kutsukake’s The Translation of Love. It’s a historical novel about life in post-war Japan following WWII. The novel focuses on a twelve-year old girl named Fumi who is trying to find her sister Sumiko, who has left home to become a hostess for American GI’s. Along with her friend Aya, a repatriated Japanese girl from the U.S., she writes a letter to General MacArthur in hopes that he will help her. Along the way, we meet several other interesting characters: Kondo, the girls’ homeroom teacher who moonlights as a translator; Matt and Nancy, two military translators who are Americans of Japanese descent; and Sumiko, the missing sister who is trying to make a living and support her family as best she can.

The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat (Half Review)

Today I finished the book The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore. It was really good. It’s about three older African American women in Indiana who are known in town as the Supremes (because they remind people of Diana Ross and her group). The book delves into their lives, their loves, their children, and their missed ambitions. The lives of all the characters revolve around Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, a local restaurant where all the interesting characters in town hang out. I loved the small town feel of the story and how the characters were far removed from the politics of their time. Edward Kelsey Moore presents a cast of very interesting personalities, including people who see ghosts, cheating husbands, arrogant rich people, and slimy fortune tellers. Each character brings flavor to the story as they learn to coexist in their own small town.

The Conjoined by Jen Sookfong Lee (Review)

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The Conjoined is the third adult novel of Canadian American author Jen Sookfong Lee. I reviewed her first novel The End of East years ago, and I am happy to see that she’s still writing. Too often Asian American writers write one novel before disappearing forever. I’m happy that Jen Sookfong Lee is still in the game and growing stronger as a writer. And growing she is. I couldn’t put this novel down. She has grown not only as a writer, but also as an observer and a student of life (which she describes in detail on her website). She was always a good writer, but in her new novel, she demonstrates her cultural bilingualism and keen understanding of humankind. It was truly delightful.

United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas (Review)

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I was really happy to receive a copy of Peter Tieryas’s new book United States of Japan. I’ve reviewed Peter’s books before, and I respect him as one of the most creative contemporary thinkers in Asian American fiction today. I respect his unique ideas and his embrace of thinking that goes far beyond the typical issues that many Asian American writers try to address. With USJ, he once again pushes the boundaries of imagination and inquiry. Peter also bravely enters the political arena of history and intra-Asian debates. It’s by far Peter’s most ambitious novel to date. This has also been the most thought-provoking book I’ve read all year.  I loved it, and I hope you do too!

NutureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman (Review)

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NurtureShock is a book about child-rearing that combines the latest studies with the authors’ own personal experience. Bronson’s and Merryman’s idea is that lots of the common wisdom that Americans have about parenting is wrong.

It’s an interesting book, particularly interesting because the advice in the book is in line with the way I parent. 🙂  There are explanations and ideas about all kinds of issues–why siblings fight, why language DVDs don’t work (and what actually does), when to praise kids (and when not to), why parents should not avoid talking about race, and how to best teach self-control.

The Good Shufu: Finding Love, Self, and Home on the Far Side of the World by Tracy Slater (Review)

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The Good Shufu is a non-fiction memoir written by a Jewish American woman who falls in love with a Japanese man while teaching in Japan. Tracy Slater is humanities PhD who accepts a position in Japan as an English conversation teacher for Japanese businessmen. She is a liberal feminist East Coaster (Boston) who mostly hung out with other liberal white people, and she had never given much thought to other cultures (which is actually quite common among East Coast liberals–not just the white ones either). She falls in love with one of her students, a young salaryman named Toru, and the book is about their love and and cross-cultural marriage. Along the way Slater also writes about caring for her new father-in-law and her attempts to have a child via IVF.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Review)

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I just finished reading Hanya Yanagihara’s 720-page novel A Little Life. It’s the story of four college friends who live in New York City: an architect, an artist, an actor, and a corporate lawyer. As the novel moves on, the focus turns to the lawyer, a man named Jude, and the story becomes about how he deals with the pain caused by a childhood of sexual abuse. Yanagihara’s last novel dealt with similar themes of pedophilia. I’ve watched/read interviews with Yanagihara, and she said that she wrote the novel to explore many issues. One issue was that she wanted to explore lifestyles where there are no kids involved. She said in an interview that she and most of her friends don’t have kids, and she wanted to portray that life. Another issue was the idea that men often lack the vocabulary to talk about their emotions. She said she found it fascinating to write about men trying to find words to discuss what they feel.