Book Chat: And the Mountains Echoed, The Boys of My Youth, and Decoding Your Dog

It’s been a long time since we’ve chatted books. Here are the three books I’ve polished off in the past month or two. What are you in the mood for?

…a sweeping tale of familial love:

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

16115612I adore Khaled Hosseini as a storyteller. You know how certain books just leave you in hysterical, ugly-crying convulsions? That was The Kite Runner for me, his first novel. Holy waterworks.

This book doesn’t put you through the emotional woodchipper to the same degree but it’s a fantastic read. He pulls you in with the first chapter, beginning with an artfully woven Afghan fable. The novel continues with a series of short stories that span decades, with certain characters popping up again in later chapters. Most take place in Afghanistan, with a few exceptions. He’s a master of the craft and has such an original voice.

…light and poignant memoirs:

The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard

urlRight now, Jo Ann Beard is my favorite living writer. This book is a memoir, a series of short stories from Jo Ann’s life, each (loosely) featuring a male character who influenced her throughout her first few decades. Throughout the book, I laughed out loud and got misty-eyed at some of her passages.

Her ear for dialogue is uncanny and when she writes from a child’s perspective in particular, I marvel at how accurate she gets it. Just listen to her describe a fight between she and her older sister, Linda:

“If she has to come up here, we’re both going to regret it. It’s ten o’ clock at night and there has been a territorial dispute over where the line down the middle of the bed really is. After a short skirmish, we have yelled downstairs to the mediator…Linda pins my arms behind my back and I bite her. There are screaming noises.

She’s had it. Once more and it’s going to be the belt.

This surprises us and we tiptoe back into the bedroom. My mother’s spanking abilities scare her and so she has a ratio of about one spank per forty threats. We always know where we happen to be along the spanking continuum. That’s why we can’t believe she’s going straight for the belt. We’re more scared of her hand than the belt, because the belt is a cloth one from a housedress, while her hand is made of granite. But still, this is erratic behavior on her part, and we don’t care for it.”

I also highly recommend her first novel, In Zanesville, which I talked about here. Can’t get enough!

…an obedience book for your dog:

Decoding Your Dog by Drs. Debra Horwitz and John Ciribassi

url-1I realize this is a niche recommendation for dog-owners but I found it a very enlightening read. One of Mike’s co-workers recommended it to us and it’s so good. It was written by two veterinarians who use positive reinforcement training. We’ve used a bunch of the tips already, to great success. Little Win hasn’t had a potty accident in weeks, I tell you, WEEKS! And her obedience is humming along quite smoothly. I highly recommend this read to any dog owner, not just puppy parents.

What have you been reading lately? Anything good? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Read a good review about decoding your dog in the Times and meant to pick it up – thanks for the reminder, I’ll have to check it out.

    • I think you’d love it, Will! It’s written by a vet and not an obedience instructor, so it has a bit of a different message than other training books. I love his straightforward, positive reinforcement only approach.

  2. I recently read Still Missing by Chevy Stevens and loved it. I also read Never Knowing (by her also) and really liked that book as well.

  3. I have been reading the book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ and I absolutely love it. We just got another dog and both of our pooches could benefit from some added obedience so I would love to pick up this one – thanks for the recommendation!

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