Category Archives: Books

Nantucket Book Festival #ACKBookFestival

Nantucket Book Festival #ACKBookFestival

desert adventure

My sixteen year old went to a three day concert festival earlier this month, and I imagine our girl’s weekend at the Nantucket Book Festival was to the six of us book lovers, what being in proximity to the rock stars were to my teen daughter. If it were socially acceptable I’m sure we too would have stood up and screamed as some of our idols took the stage, but in the subdued Nantucket Athaneum we surely would have been sternly escorted out out by a gentleman in a navy blazer.

That’s not to say that we didn’t have our wild moments of dancing to random bands in a dive bar…. or……ok, so maybe that was the one wild moment of the weekend….. but it was a thrilling weekend full of books and authors, great food, and friends, wild in the stories we got to explore .   The point is, if you are a book lover, a reader or a writer, or a lover of stories and those who tell them, then you should have been there too. The amazing storytellers who spoke had us in awe, throughout the weekend we were on the emotional rollercoaster that comes with the close study of human nature as told through narrative.

It all started with our gracious host, an island homeowner who had attended every Nantucket Book Festival since it’s inception four years ago and been raving to us about it ever since. Her wonderful blog CreativeWhimzy highlights the type of creative, thoughtful and energetic person our gracious host Jo is. We arrived to welcome gifts, mugs she had designed for all of us, each with a handmade tag, to enjoy our morning coffee in!IMG_8946

We were up bright and early on Friday morning for breakfast with Anita Diamant, best selling author of The Red Tent, who gave a talk about her recently released novel The Boston Girl, and her craft. I have found that writers are often great speakers, as natural storytellers they often know how to keep their audience humored and enthralled.


Anita Diamant


Following Anita Diamant, author of A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah spoke to us about his journey from child soldier in Sierra Leone to best selling author in New York City. He introduced his new novel The Radiance of Tomorrow and discussed his transition from memoir to fiction and his role in providing “the lost boys” of the war in  Sierra Leone a human face and insight to the rest of the world .


posing with Ishmael Beah


Leaving the athenaeum with our emotions piqued by the amazing authors we had just heard, we discovered the Typewriter Rodeo in the courtyard outside. We each got a poem typed out for us by the rodeo based on a word we gave. By then we were all practically in tears of overwhelmed emotions and the festival had only just begun!



Authors L to R: LaShonda Katrice Barnett, Bret Anthony Johnston, Belinda McKeon, Scott Turow, Azar Nafisi


What we have discovered is that authors are great story tellers, and each author captivated us with the behind the scenes of the stories they told. Breakfast with Jodi Picoult and Alice Hoffman was up close and personal, it was such a treat to get a glimpse of each of them outside of their writing, and the view from the Dreamland theatre event space could not be beat.


up close and personal with Jodi Picoult and Alice Hoffman



Our final morning of the Nantucket Book festival was magic despite the deluge. The White Elephant is impeccable, the event space, the brunch, and the service was amazing. Ishmael Beah was amazing as well. How he can infuse such heartbreak yet inspiration in one delivery is the true magic. His wisdom and insight into human nature are treasures, mined only as someone who has seen humanity at its worst and best could do.


The weekend at The Nantucket Book Festival felt like a dream. One where fairy tales and nightmares haunt your consciousness and leaves you on the other side of something intangible. It felt like gift that can be held and turned over in my mind for a long time to come.


Happy #MothersDay

Happy #MothersDay


I read this line in Ismael Beah‘s novel The Radiance of Tomorrow two days before Mother’s Day. It resonated with me as I was missing my mother, and feeling so grateful for being a mother at the same time. I thought, yes, my story began with my birth, but really before that. With my mother’s story and her mother’s story beyond. I thought that although my mom is no longer alive to guide me, I do still hear her voice in me. When I wonder what she would do, or say in a certain situation, or advice she would give, the answer is usually there.


Now it is up to me to continue to write my story, and to watch and guide as those of my own children unfold.

image Happy Mother’s Day! We are each the Heroes of own own stories, so be sure to write a good one!

Tools For Empowering Global Women; Book Review of 100 Under $100

Tools For Empowering Global Women; Book Review of 100 Under $100



“Women make up half our entire population. When they’re held back, half the world’s potential goes unrealized. But when women and girls are empowered, we’re not just better by half. The world is twice as good.”

-Melinda Gates #BetterByHalf campaign

As we reach the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals and world leaders set forth a new set of global goals leading up to 2030, it has become increasingly clear that women and girls need to be at the center of development initiatives. Why women and girls? As Betsy Teutsch points out in her new book 100 under $100 One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women It has to do with what is referred to as The Girl Effect.  This refers to the fact that when you educate girls they tend to marry later, in turn give birth later, and are able to better contribute to the economy. Research has also shown that when women have economic power, more of those resources are invested back into her family than when men do. Women are also more likely to educate their own daughters. This means the next generation will also contribute more effectively to the nation’s economy. Read the rest of this entry

The Parenting Book For Global Moms

The Parenting Book For Global Moms

I wish Christine Gross-Loh had written this book about 14 years ago when I was first becoming a mother.  I’m pretty sure it would have been my parenting bible.  There were plenty of  parenting books around back then when I had my first child, but I quickly realized that the philosophies often contradicted each other, and  I would end up following common sense, and ditching the structured advice more often than not anyways. By the time I had my second child I had stopped reading parenting books altogether.  What I like about Christine Gross-Loh’s new book Parenting Without Borders is that it looks at the results, the way kids behave as an outcome of cultural child rearing practices that point to real success in various areas of development.  The author became aware of differing international parenting styles after living in Japan with her small children and then moving back to the U.S.. Suddenly what she would have previously taken as normal parenting, stood out to her as distinctively American parenting, and she realized it wasn’t always the best way to do things. This set off years of international research on parenting styles around the world for her. Eventually it informed her ultimate international patchwork of parenting style with her own kids.

It  makes so much sense, we share best practices in many ways cross-culturally, why not parenting?    Sure, I had done a ton of traveling before having kids myself,  but as a single young woman for most of the time, I can’t say that I was absorbing much parenting advice along the way.  Along with Documama, I write and Edit for World Moms Blog,  a community of bloggers and moms from around the world.  We learn so much, and gain such understanding from each other by sharing our experiences, and advice as technology is making the world a smaller place.

The book illustrates how other cultures can show us how to bring our children up to expect less stuff  like the kids in Japan, be more healthful eaters as in France and Italy, or more independent thinkers like the kids in Sweden. There aspects in which the author believes our American parenting style is superior too.  The point of this book is that we can pull together lessons from around the world for the most balanced possible outcome. Our children, the children of this upcoming generation, will inevitably  be global citizens weather brought up that way or not. We might as well get started!

*I received a free copy of Parenting Without Borders for the purpose of this book review, as always my opinions are honest and my own, and are never swayed by outside influences.

It’s Pi Day!

It’s Pi Day!

“π-Day” (“Pi-Day”) Guest Post Written by Bulent Atalay

Ink drawing by the author, inspired by a Yousuf Karsh photo hanging in the Physics Department at Princeton University

Last year for “π-Day” (“Pi-Day”) I wrote a guest blog for Documama about Albert Einstein, Time Magazine’s choice for the “Individual of the 20th century.” The physicist, whose name has become synonymous with genius, was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14 (3.14) one hundred and thirty-four years ago. Frequently physics students have celebrated the day in homage to the birthday of the venerable scientist, and these days Pi-Day has become a bit more mainstream.

In his “miracle year,” 1905, Einstein had written four papers, three of which could have won the Nobel Prize. It was his paper with the most obscure title of all, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” that he changed the paradigm for physics that had prevailed since Isaac Newton published his masterpiece, the Principia, almost 230 years earlier. Better known as the “Special Theory of Relativity,” Einstein’s theory rejects the three fundamental undefinables of length, mass and time as being invariant, and in their place posits the speed of light as the unique invariant. Length, mass and time could increase or decrease, when the body travels at different velocities. Then ten years later he published his masterpiece, the “General Theory of Relativity,” which offered a refinement to Newton’s theory of gravitation. The Big Bang Theory, stars collapsing into black holes, quasars, pulsars… are all manifestations of the General Theory. Einstein’s legacy is as seminal, and as staggeringly consequential to the physicist’s understanding of physical reality as his theories are inscrutable to the non-physicist.


π is the symbol for the number representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It is a universal constant, the same for all circles and indeed everywhere in the universe. In the language of mathematics, it is also an irrational number, and as such cannot be expressed exactly by the ratio of two numbers. Finally, it is also a transcendental number, that is, not algebraic — not a solution a non-zero polynomial equation with rational coefficients. A ramification of this last statement is that geometrically speaking “a circle cannot be squared,” a circle cannot be constructed with exactly the same area as a specified square using only a compass and a straight edge, and accomplished in a finite number of steps. The proof of this conjecture is so complicated that it was not achieved rigorously until 1882.

What Children are taught in elementary school:

Trick One:

A good approximation and an easy way to remember the number still comes from the mnemonic, “How I need a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics,” 3.141 592 653 589 79… Good to 15 places, it comes from counting the letters in each successive word. (For children, substitute “pepsicola” for “alcoholic”.)

Trick Two:

Again, π is the symbol for the number representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. At first pale, it is roughly equal to 3. Expressed to

photo from March 1926 National Geographic Magazine

two decimal places, it is 3.14. To seven places after the decimal, the correct value of π is 3.141 592 7 As an irrational number, however, π cannot be expressed exactly by the ratio of two numbers; however, elementary school students are often taught 22/7, as a crude approximation. The ratio yields 3.142 857, correct to just two places after the decimal.

The Ancient Egyptians building the Great Pyramid about 4600 years ago had the value of π to two decimal places, 3.14. After laying out a circle (points equidistant from a center), they measured its radius. Then they physically “squared the circle,” presumably by having four groups of workers pulling in four directions, with four equal sides and two equal diagonals. (This is not “squaring the circle” in the mathematical sense discussed in the last paragraph. The perimeters of the two figures are equal, but the areas encompassed by the two are not.) After the square base of the pyramid was laid out, then the radius of the original circle served was adopted as the height of the pyramid, 455 ft (139 m). The Great Pyramid, essentially a man-made mountain serving as a mausoleum for Pharaoh Khufu, rises at 52° relative to the plain of the base.

Trick Three:

Take the six integers 1 2 3 4 5 6, and subtract from them 0 1 0 1 0 1. Thus

1 2 3 4 5 6

 —0 1 0 1 0 1

1 1 3 3 5 5                                                                                                                                                             

Dividing the last three digits by the first three, 355/113, the ratio is obtained as 3.141 592 9. This is good to six decimal places.



About 1940 the π was computed to ten thousand significant figures.

In 1960, a computer was used to apply an algorithm to calculate π to one million decimal places, where it was found to terminate with 5.

In 2011, a most determined Japanese gentleman, Shigeru Kondo, collaborating with the Northwestern University graduate student, Alexander Yee, computed π to ten trillion places, where its value was found to be 5 again. This, however, is nothing more than a happy coincidence!

Bulent Atalay


Bulent Atalay is my brilliant father-in-law and a retired physics professor. He is also the author of two books, Math and The Mona Lisa, and Leonardo’s Universe. You can find out more about the amazing man my kids call Buyukbaba (Turkish for grandfather ) at his website  and on his blog for National geographic.