Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Archive for May, 2010

Quirky Kids

Posted by nliakos on May 28, 2010

by Perri Klass, M.D., and Eileen Costello, M.D. Ballantine, 2003.

I’d like to recommend a book I just discovered: Quirky Kids: Understanding and Helping Your Child Who Doesn’t Fit in–When to Worry and When Not to Worry, by Perri Klass and Eileen Costello.  It focuses on Autism Spectrum disorders including HFA and Aspergers, nonverbal learning disability, ADHD, sensory integration dysfunction and more. Klass and Costello are Boston-area pediatricians and moms.  The book was published back in 2003 by Ballantine, and oh how I wish I had read it back then! It’s really so comprehensive and practical.  I found the section in Chapter 2 on Diagnoses and Labels to be particularly helpful.  It explains clearly how different specialists give different names to (parts of) the same thing.  Another very helpful chapter is Chapter 10, “Mind-Altering Substances: Medications and the Quirky Child”, which lists meds available in 2003 and before, what they may be used for and what to watch out for.  I wish I had a 2010 edition of that chapter!  Finally, the last chapter gave me hope by reminding me that it is a lot easier to be quirky when you grow up: “Despite a great deal of romantic twaddle about the freedom and innocence of childhood, the truth is that many children’s lives are strictly regulated, and no major deviations from the norm are tolerated. A child can’t wake up one morning and decide, That’s it. I’m through forever with math…with riding those damn buses…with pretending I like the great outdoors.  But adults can easily make such arrangements for themselves.”  The book also includes excellent resources and references for each chapter.

Here is the link to the book’s page on; unfortunately, there does not seem to be a second edition.

Posted in Learning Disabilities | 1 Comment »

The Miracle at Speedy Motors

Posted by nliakos on May 24, 2010

by Alexander McCall Smith (read by Lisette LeCat)

Another delicious installment in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series!

Wikipedia page on the series link

Posted in Fiction, Recommended for ESL or EFL Learners | Leave a Comment »

From Blogs to Bombs

Posted by nliakos on May 24, 2010

by Mark Pegrum

Australian educator Mark Pegrum sees the brave new world of web technologies through technological, pedagogical, social, socio-political, and ecological “lenses” or perspectives.

Posted in Education, Non-fiction, Web Technology | Leave a Comment »

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time

Posted by nliakos on May 24, 2010

by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (Penguin, 2006)

This book has been on the Washington Post‘s bestseller list for 141 weeks as of this writing, which is mind-boggling but totally understandable. Since it was first published four years ago, Mortenson has collaborated on a young adult version, a picture book called Listen to the Wind, and a sequel, Stones Into Schools (all of which I have read and enjoyed).  This is a life-changing book, one I have given as a gift to several people and to my daughter’s school. It is a book which shows just how much one person can do to change the world, if s/he tries hard enough.

The story of how Greg Mortenson failed to reach the top of K2, the world’s second-highest peak, and stumbled instead into a remote Pakistani village and there found his life’s work, must be pretty well-known by now.  The villagers saved Mortenson’s life, and he in turn promised to build a school for their children. This he managed to do, and he then went on to build (as of now, over 135) more schools, not only in Pakistan but in neighboring Afghanistan as well, as director of the Central Asia Institute, which he established with money donated originally by Jean Hoerni, who also gave the money to build Mortenson’s first school in the village of Korphe.

What is really amazing is that Greg Mortenson is still alive, considering how he constantly puts himself into harm’s way in some of the most dangerous places in the world for Americans to go.  Somehow his love of the cultures and peoples of Central Asia and his honest desire to help educate the children there, especially the girls, have resulted in his being surrounded by Pakistanis and Afghans who manage to protect him from those who would harm him…so far.  His is an incredibly inspirational story, as are the stories he recounts of the people who help him and the children who have been educated in the schools he has built.


Official book site for Three Cups of Tea

Official book site for Stones Into Schools

Pennies for Peace is an organization started by Mortenson to raise money in America’s schools, a penny at a time.

Here is a link to Wikipedia’s article about the book.

Music video of the song “Three Cups of Tea”, performed by Mortenson’s daughter Amira

Posted in Education, Non-fiction | Leave a Comment »

The Wild Trees

Posted by nliakos on May 24, 2010

by Richard Preston

Quotation: “In all, close to 96% of the primeval redwood forest was cut down.  What is left of the virgin redwood forest is like a few fragments of stained glass from a rose window in a cathedral, after the rest of the window has been smashed and swept away.” (CD2)

Sentences like this one broke my heart. How arrogant we have been! How much we have destroyed that can never be recreated.  This book is about redwoods (mostly) and the people who climb them, study them, love them.  In a John McPhee kind of way, Preston combines fascinating facts with detailed portrayals of this special group of people: Steve Sillett, Marie Antoine, Michael Taylor, and others whose lives revolve around the tallest trees on the planet. The parts about the people are really interesting, but they pale next to the parts about the redwoods themselves and the ecosystems that were discovered in the redwood canopy, which had been assumed to be “just branches” by people who had never been up to see what was there (Sillett was the first to ascend into the top of a redwood).  For example, we don’t even know what the natural lifespan of a redwood tree is.  They appear to keep living and growing until something (a storm, loggers) brings them down.  Trees grow out of trees (like clones), which grow out of trees…. Even the wood does not rot. It’s as if they are immortal (until we destroy them to make picnic tables or cutting boards like the one in my kitchen).

I’ve already returned this CD book to the public library (after listening to it twice), so I can’t check on who the narrator was, but the CD books that are listed on list Preston himself as the narrator.  If that is so, I can’t figure out why he says Steve SilLETT on the audiobook but Steve SILLett in his talk on  These guys are supposed to be friends! Surely Sillett pronounces his name in only one way, and Preston should know what that way is! But that is a minor complaint about a wonderful book. Read it!

Here is a link to the TED talk.

The page for this book, with reviews and an excerpt from Chapter 1, is here.

Posted in Non-fiction, Recommended for ESL or EFL Learners | 1 Comment »

Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals

Posted by nliakos on May 24, 2010

by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson. Recorded Books 2009. Narrated by Andrea Gallo.

I loved this book, as I love all of Grandin’s books.  I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before about human and nonhuman animals. But I have been remiss about blogging and don’t remember the details, so I will post some links to summaries and reviews that others have written.  I do recommend it highly!

Powell’s Books


Customer Reviews on

Posted in Non-fiction | Leave a Comment »