Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Nonfiction mini-reviews: Bored and Brilliant and A Forever Family

Manoush Zomorodi is the host of popular radio show and podcast about technology and its effects. When she had time to think about her plans for the future and really look at her surroundings when she was home with her baby, she found herself inundated with ideas. Conversely, when she was back at work and filling every possible second, the ideas seemed to disappear. Wondering if there was a correlation between empty moments and productivity, she challenged her listeners and herself to take on a week of challenges. Readers are asked to delete an app they love, relearn how to observe their surroundings, and ensure that there is quiet time in each day.

The issues examined in this book will be all too familiar to most of us. We wonder about the effects of video games on our kids and find ourselves scrolling through social media whenever we have a spare five seconds. The information that Zamorodi compiles is fascinating, and she has plenty of statistics and interviews throughout the book. Ultimately though, the result of reading this book is about the same as the results of her challenge: people didn't see a huge change, but they were more aware of their habits. After reading Bored and Brilliant, I do find myself considering before picking up my phone and instead asking my kids about their day, reading a few pages of my book, or even enjoying a moment or two of boredom.

Bored and Brilliant
How Spacing Out Can Unlock
Your Most Productive and Creative Self
By Manoush Zomorodi
St. Martin's Press September 2017
208 pages
From the library

Rob Scheer grew up moving from one terrible situation to the next, from his abusive father to living in his car after a foster family kicked him out of their home. As an adult, he felt moved to help children in similar circumstances and he and his husband became foster parents. Scheer doesn't paint a rosy picture; instead, he writes about the difficulties of two white gay men trying to adopt black children and the moments when the ghosts from his own past show up in his parenting. Some of the hardest moments to read about are the small ones--the difficulty of using someone else's soap in a strange new house or Rob and his husband Reece's realization that their foster daughter is hoarding food because she doesn't feel secure yet.

Scheer's story is heartbreaking and I am glad he found the courage to share it. For me, I'm not sure it warranted an entire book; it would have been an excellent article showing how his painful childhood led to his becoming a foster dad, adopting his children, and starting Comfort Cases, an organization that gives backpacks with a book, blanket, and hygiene items to foster kids. But if Scheer's story can make anyone understand the need for foster parents and support for children in need, then it is an important one.

A Forever Family
Fostering Change One Child at a Time
By Rob Scheer with Jon Sternfeld
Gallery/Jeter Publishing November 2018
320 pages
Read via Netgalley


  1. A Forever Family sounds really good. It's too bad it seemed like it'd make a better article than book. You'd think there'd be endless things to talk about when it comes to fostering, especially as a gay couple.

    1. I wonder if that was just it--I think I would have preferred a tighter, more focused story.

  2. Both of these titles sound like really interesting nonfiction titles, for very different reasons of course. Thanks for sharing - they are both new to me.