Audio book roundup

I’ve been “reading” a lot of books lately, thanks to the magic of audio books on my phone.  I use the word reading loosely here, since it feels like a lot less work for a slow reader like me. Yet, I can’t argue with the science that confirms that, while listening to the spoken word, the brain is activated in much the same way as reading the words for oneself.

With that in mind, here’s what I’ve enjoyed recently…

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Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I’m so enamored with Alfie’s work. It’s validating to hear researchers coming to progressive conclusions about child-rearing.

But what struck me the most about this book was how practical and actionable the advice was, how very non-progressive it is. For instance, if most adults reject autocratic rule, why would we want that for our own children (“Do it because I said so”)? For that matter, why do we (particularly if we’ve been raised in such an authority structure) feel threatened by the idea of seeking compromise or rational discourse with our kids?

I was also very fascinated by the intersection of Kohn’s psychology concepts with that of faith and religion. There are so many points of intersection with fundamentalist or Evangelical notions of authority, image of God, masculinity, punishment, shame, love and forgiveness — most of which have toxic baggage for those of us who have escaped.

I can’t recommend Alfie Kohn’s work enough.



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One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon by Tim Weiner

One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is truly a staggering work. It was a tower of details, geopolitical intrigue, espionage, statecraft, deception, and of course corruption.

Not having lived through this period in history, I think my biggest takeaway is that everything I’d come to accept as “culturally” true about the Nixon era is every bit warranted. In other words, a kid like me in the 80s grew to understand that Nixon really was a crook, despite his claiming otherwise.

And in fact, thanks to Weiner’s incredible tome of a work, he was much worse. He was arguably a war criminal, a narcissistic felon, an egomaniacal tyrant.

And yet, he went to China. He started talks with Russia. He turned the U.S.’ policy course from domestic to foreign.

Nixon’s a complicated character for sure. But he was absolutely guilty of every crime he wasn’t punished for. And his own words prove it.

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