“Listen to your mother.”
Jenny Bristol did – and then she wrote it down to share.
The result is her first solo non-fiction book, Wisdom from Mom: Advice for Living.
Bristol is a GeekDad editor, a founding director of GeekMom, a co-author of Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st-Century Families, and author of the fiction book The Isle of Kern.
“The impetus for this book was some of the advice given to me by my own mom over the years,” she writes in the preface to Wisdom from Mom. “The number of helpful bits of advice from her multiplied as I got older, and I started making note of them, thinking they would make a lovely book. I’ve also picked up other bits of wisdom here and there, from friends, family, and, of course, my own experiences, and have included all the best ones here.”
I really like the tone she strikes: It’s friendly – somehow slightly above conversational but never lapsing into uncomfortably casual – and it carries through all 10 sections and 137 pages, making for an effective, super-readable mix of practicality, encouragement, opinion, and experience.
After opening with two shorter sections – “If You Only Take One Piece of Advice” and “A Second Important Piece of Advice” – which are widely-applicable, Bristol divides the rest of the book into longer chapters aimed at specific audiences: “Wisdom for Children”, “Wisdom for Young Adults”, and “Wisdom for Parents,” for instance. These are subdivided into sections listed in the table of contents – which actually makes the ToC a pretty handy “clip-and-save” reference document all by itself. A few examples:
That approach makes Wisdom from Mom a good gift for pretty much anyone capable of reading, no matter how old they are or where they are in life. Plenty of insight and head-nodding thoughts worth highlighting and sharing and bookmarking for later. (Days, months, years later, even.)
One of the things that struck me while I was reading this was how as parents, we sometimes forget to put the lessons of childhood into differently-relatable perspectives as adults. This may or may not have been the author’s intention, but I couldn’t help but think that “stand up for yourself” (what we teach kids) ties incredibly closely to “it is your job to advocate for yourself” as an adult. Writing it down, I feel like its blindingly obvious, because as an adult, I think, “Heck no, I’m not going to be bullied,” but then I thought about things like not being intimidated or afraid to ask questions at the doctor’s office or in a new work project or whatever, and there was this little aha! Moment.
I was provided an electronic review copy of Wisdom from Mom, but I really feel like I want to buy a few paperback versions to give as gifts, because it’s just that kind of book that belongs on a shelf to come back to from time to time. (Also: If you have Amazon Kindle Unlimited, it’s a perfect way to check out the book.)
As life moves and changes, different bits of Bristol’s words and thoughts will pop out and stick to different parts of my brain: Nice reminders that everyone can use a little wisdom now and then.
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