The PT Bookshelf: From Self Control to Marriage

Book reviews on teaching tots self control, taking control of the work environment and finding marital bliss.

By Laura Janecka, Arikia Millikan, Avigail Gordon, published March 1, 2010 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs

By Ellen Galinsky

When your daughter tosses her spoon from the high chair onto the floor, she may be conducting a science experiment, exploring cause and effect. If her instinct can be harnessed, such childish behavior could turn an inquisitive toddler into a successful adult.

Galinsky suggests that children—even infants—can be taught skills early in life to make them successful later. As president and cofounder of the nonprofit Families and Work Institute, Galinksy observed that children from all walks of life appeared to be "deadened to the notion of learning." She wondered what extinguished that passion.

Galinsky spent eight years trying to find out, documenting the findings of seventy researchers and distilling seven essential life skills all children can benefit from: focus and self-control; seeing someone else's point of view; communicating; making connections; critical thinking; taking on challenges; and self-directed, engaged learning. Instead of dictating to parents, she provides personal accounts from parents and researchers, play activities, and suggestions for how to teach the skills.

Galinsky doesn't sugarcoat her point: "If we find it difficult sometimes to maintain our focus and self-control, imagine what it's like for our children, who don't have decades of practice and experience." —Laura Janecka

The End of Work As You Know It

By Milo Sindell and Thuy Sindell, Ph.D.

What if work didn't feel like work? If it's a logical extension of your being, it doesn't have to. Milo and Thuy Sindell, cofounders of and specialists in employee performance, encourage the frustrated and the hopeless to take control of their work environments. The book is full of case studies, exercises, and questions to reflect on.

It doesn't offer any groundbreaking techniques, but works well as a motivational text, covering such themes as autonomy, creativity, and getting recognition. You still have to do the heavy lifting, but with this book you won't be fumbling alone in the dark. —Arikia Millikan

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up

By Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn

With lines like "We're just not that into us," Gurwitch and Kahn don't agree on much, but they do come together on this: Your marriage will thrive most when you ignore conventional wisdom and do what works for you. They've tested this theory over the course of their 13-year marriage, struggling with issues from the mundane—his obsession with sports and her tendency to overplan—to the terrifying, such as a diagnosis of dangerous birth defects in their newborn son. Interspersed with polls and studies on the challenges to long-term marital happiness, their memoir outlines their approach to bliss: to laugh as much as possible, primarily at each other. —Avigail Gordon