Considering the last time I read an entire book from cover to cover was on the plane to the BlogHer Conference 2006, I've learned to put any and all reading material that needs to be read in the bathroom.
Perhaps that was one thing you didn't need to know about me, but I figured since you know my vagina tends to drop tampons, what's so bad about sharing my bathroom habits?
From contributor Kristen Chase: "Full of hilarious and heartbreaking essays that are the perfect length for those magical private poop breaks."
Anyhow, my point is, I don't read a lot.
And I'm completely embarrassed about it, because to be a good writer, you really need to read more than the dosage levels on a Tylenol bottle and a shopping list.
So I suppose it's a little awkward that I get a lot of books to review, most of them completely unsolicited. I review a few for Cool Mom Picks - mostly the funny, short picture books or cool gift books that don't require actual reading or books by dear friends that you feel fortunate to read.
But when a PR person sent me an email about "Raising Freethinkers," the follow-up to one of my favorite parenting books "Parenting Beyond Belief" by Dale McGowan, I immediately said "Yes, I want one!"
Sadly, that doesn't usually ever mean I'll read or review it (note the number of book reviews I've done here - um, zero), but I've got that whole karma thing happening so I'm only saying "yes" to books that I'm absolutely 100% going to read.
I've written many posts about my difficulties with parenting with religion (or parenting without religion while your kid attends a Catholic School, or whatever you want to call it), and PBB really made me feel less like a heathen.
So if PBB was telling you it was okay to be a heathen, er secular parent "Raising Freethinkers" is basically a hands-on, practical guide on how to be one.
And it's amazing.
At first, I was just reading it to read it, and because as it turns out, Dale lives in Atlanta and due to a bizarre discovery (true story: I put my blog name in Amazon late one night when I was feeling sorry for myself to search to see what came up and this book came up), he included my blog in his book even before I had read it and it was still sitting on my night table and NOT in my bathroom.
Night table? That's my aspirational reading pile. Or my glasses holders. Or coasters.
Under 12 blogs we love:
Kristen Chase is a foul-mouthed, cynical, cut-the-crap mother of two with no sense of propriety or common decency. I adore her. Like me, she is a also a former music professor recently relocated to the Deep South.
I emailed him "Hi Dale, Just saw that I was in your book. Um, I think thanks are in order?"
I perused it during my bathroom breaks until family members starting dying and my daughter starting exhibiting some "learning about ourselves - yes that type of learning" behaviors and I figured I needed some guidance.
Now I'm not here to knock religion, but I think even religious people can admit that religious-related explanations for the "big stuff," like death, sex, marriage, you name it, are often times a cop out.
"Well, he went to heaven and he's in a better place."
It's one thing if you go into a bit of discussion about heaven and what that means, but most often, there is no discussion, because really, what parent knows how to discuss that stuff?
It's difficult and confusing and overwhelming.
So just saying "He went to heaven" is way easier. Like we need more stuff to complicate our lives.
But that doesn't really help my kids. And if they're asking the questions and they're experiencing new things about life, then I feel as though it's my job as a parent to answer them - as uncomfortable and as squirmy as it makes me.
That's my job.
And that's what "Raising Freethinkers" does.
Dale, along with his fellow authors, discusses everything from existing as a secular family in a religious world, to finding personal meaning in life (and explaining that to your kids) without religion as the sole purpose for our existence. There are chapters and explaining the idea of a physical and sexual self to your kids, as well as discussions on death and life.
Don't get me wrong. If you're a devoutly religious person, this book probably isn't for you. But I think even someone who is religious can appreciate their straightforward and very thoughtful approaches to sexuality, self-esteem, relationships, life and death, and personal morals and ethics.
They're not necessarily knocking religion, either. They just provide parents who are seeking another way a guidebook on how to deal with a world that is strongly faith based.