At a Glance Talk Radio

Book Reviews: September 2013 – December 2013

Unknown-1The theme of my October 25, 2013 book review was supposed to be “Books I Have Opened” as I just found out last night that I was to be on air tonight.  Now, I can read as fast as the next chick but one day’s notice.  Thus, I prepared the aforementioned theme with the expectation that I would only have 15 minutes of air time.  Alas, one of the books I’ve looked most forward to reading, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan got short shrift tonight because I cannot tell a lie — I’ve only read four pages of it thus far.   It’s a pity because Aslan is a scholar trying to engage his reader in an adult conversation — and one which I look forward to engaging in when I have the mental space to absorb Aslan’s fine words.

Other books Rodney, Nate, Keith and I touched upon during the three-times more time I was allotted than I expected are all high on my list:

Unknown-2Take a Deep Breath: Clear the Air for the Health of Your Child by Dr. Nina L. Shapiro

Megan Lisa Jones‘ book that is discussed below 9330-grph_news-9614




UnknownIf You’re Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand a collection of poetry by Kalli Dakos with illustrations by G. Brian Karas which is a stellar collection of poems for children which are as appealing to adults as the tykes to whom I read them every September.

Naturally, my dislike of 50 Shades of Grey and my ‘whoops, I forgot I was to be on air’ book review from Disneyland were mentioned… and mocked yet again… all in good fun… I hope.512jiu1zhzL._SL160_SH30_OU01_SX135_


imzVQVeVPyJAThe book reviewed on October 18, 2013 was The Fear Index by Robert Harris.

One of my college boyfriends referred to my psychology major as soft, social science and his own economics major as real, harder science.  Men.

But, Fear Index by Robert Harris posits that both psychology and economics plays a huge part in how financial markets perform.

Robert Harris once again shows his multi genre talent in this page turner of a thriller that was released in the summer of 2012.  The book opens with an attack on the home of Dr. Alex Hoffman, an artificial intelligence researcher whose hedge fund is one of the most successful in the world thanks to Hoffman’s breakthroughs.   In this thriller the reader follows Hoffman on his increasingly desperate search to find out who has it in for he and his wife.  What he finds out 304 pages later (page count is for the hardcover version.  For those of us who read it in large type on an iPad the page count is in the thousands) will surprise even the most experienced sleuths.


The book I discussed on October 4, 2013 was Get Your Child to the Top by Megan Lisa Jones with a forward by Richard J. Riordan.

9330-grph_news-9614As promised on air during my October 4, 2013 review of “Get Your Child to the Top” by Megan Lisa Jones, here are some of her checklists from the book.  Enjoy.


A Simple Assessment Test

The below children’s assessment quiz is written with common sense in mind.  In high school I remember taking a test that was supposed to identify my vocation and I hated the idea of all jobs suggested, as did most of my friends.  Psychological tests have their place and one of my points below is to get an IQ test for your child (other possible tests include the Woodcock-Johnson, Wechsler and Stanford-Binet tests).  But at the end of the day they can’t substitute for a parent’s day-to-day knowledge of their child over time, and not just a point in time.

The schools and teachers don’t have time to realistically assess your children in the context of their ideal place in our ever-evolving world so you need to.  Our children when young lack the maturity and perspective to begin making the choices that will determine their future.  Step one?  Start below.

Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential. —Winston Churchill


Quiz: Where Do I Belong in Life?

1.     Rate your child from one to ten on each of Gardner’s types of intelligence:  bodily-kinesthetic; musical; interpersonal; intrapersonal; spatial; logical-mathematical; linguistic.

2.     Get an IQ or comparable test.  How does the result change the options you thought your child has in life?  What can you do to raise the results (read below!)?

3.     Evaluate your child’s personality on some of the traits that will have an impact beyond IQ and even grades.

a.     Resilience

b.     Creativity

c.      Sociability and empathy

d.     Perseverance

e.     Discipline

f.      Leadership

g.     Courage

h.     Ambition

i.       Goal orientation and achievement


Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.  Ambrose Bierce


4.     What are your child’s passions?  Dislikes?  Mark Cuban said something which struck me.  He basically said to follow not your passion, as we all have passions, but rather follow your effort – where do you spend your time?  Where does your child spend his or her time and why (what is the draw and how will that apply to effort when the child is older)?

5.     Ask your child about the life they’d like.  Then, apply a practical gloss to what they say.  For example, Jason likes to perform and I’m not thrilled about the idea of him being an actor.  But he does live in Los Angeles where, if you want to be an actor, is ground zero.  However, performing is more than acting.  It is a skill useful in politics, business, sales, teaching, preaching and even writing (what with the marketing demands).  A child who wants a family may end up building the next Zappos while a child who likes Legos might be an urban planner.  All skills transfer somewhere.

6.     Get practical and honest.  Some kids want to run the world and others don’t.  Our children don’t exist to validate our lives but rather to master their own right purpose.  Listen, guide then step back.

7.     Engage in a community.  According to Robert Putnam in his groundbreaking book Bowling Alone, “Child development is powerfully shaped by social capital.  A considerable body of research dating back at least fifty years has demonstrated that trust, networks, and norms of reciprocity within a child’s family, school, peer group, and larger community have wide ranging effects on a child’s opportunities and choices and, hence, on his behavior and development.”  If you read on education you will eventually encounter the name Geoffrey Canada, President of the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York.  In my opinion he has grasped this concept expertly – children exist in a community and not alone thus all need to work together.  He improves children’s options by working on raising the entire community surrounding the child along with the child itself.

8.     How much work are you willing to do and how much is your child willing to contribute?  Lauren is disciplined and tough, naturally, and more so than I am.  Sometimes I’m in awe of her focus.  I meander and always have.  Still, I did a lot of research for this book and apply it in the context of my children – to a degree, as I also need to support them.  What works for your family?  A single, divorced parent myself I understand the challenges.  Hence I’ll close the book with some easy steps to start somewhere for those parents like me that confront a multitude of obligations each day.

9.     Where do you live, what resources are available and what can you afford?  Later, I’ll discuss ways to pay for college but practically the debt levels kids are taking on today to fund their educations is unsustainable and will hopefully be changed before your child makes it there.  That old adage that it takes money to make money has never been truer than it is today.

Write out your answers and think about them for a day or two.


The Technologies Children Need to Learn Before College

1.     Computer mastery not simple ability to use a computer.  They need to be familiar with numerous programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the list of Google options (maps, search, docs or whatever it morphs into).  Dropbox is also useful.  Being able to effectively search and research a topic is key.

2.     Mac familiarity, not just PC.  I’d add iMovie personally.

3.     Video making.  Pick your camera and pick your editing and compression technology (Adobe, Apple, Microsoft for compression).

4.     Skype; Facetime (iPad calls on camera).

5.     Tablets and smartphones.  Textbooks are already migrating there and they are so very simple.

6.     They should be able to make Powerpoint presentations.

7.     Simple social networking skills are key.  With a simple email address your children can get on most related sites and set up a profile.  They need to be counseled, as with sex education, before they get in trouble not after.  I’m shocked at how trusting my children can be, even after warnings, with respect to the Internet.  Facebook, Twitter and all other social networks are personal brands and children should treat them that way.  They provide an amazing ability for teenagers to begin establishing who they are in life, what they stand for and to begin building networks.  Some of my early Twitter follows and followers have vast numbers of followers merely because they were on the service early.  I’m a pretty good networker but the options available for children today will enable my kids (and yours) to leave me in the dust.  Don’t fear the technology, help them.