Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What I've been reading lately

As Ken astutely noted today, I have a curious habit called "snack food half-life" where I will eat up to half of any given volume of snack food and then paperclip it shut and forget about it. Weeks later, I'll come back to it but only eat half of the new amount. It results in me never finishing a given snack food and ending up with a square of chocolate, one tidbit of organic beef jerky, 3 sticks of sugarless green apple flavored gum, a bag of tortilla chip crumbs, 2 ginger snap cookies and an almost empty box of Junior mints-- all of these having entered our house during the third week of summer. You may not know this but I approach books in the same way, so instead of waiting years for me to finish them, I'll give you some mid-way reviews.

I have two books that I'm trying to get through at the moment and neither of them sustains me for longer than 20 minutes a sitting. The first one I've been reading as an earnest attempt to understand the complex societal pressures of motherhood in the book called "The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars." Now before you start get any ideas, understand that if anything were to "happen" I would tell you. So consider my reading of the book "research"--like one does before doing anything completely life-altering.

So this book (the first half anyway) discusses how American society really puts pressure on women and judges them on one particular issue: do you stay at home when you have kids or do you continue to work? The problem that I have with this book (thus far) is how the author spends too much time explaining the issue and by page 80 has yet to introduce some solutions or any sign that we are getting closer to a hook. Like I've said to my uncle Randy who puts way too much garlic in the Caesar salad, "Think of the amount of garlic you use, cut it in half, then cut it in half again." Ms. Miriam Peskowitz could have used this advice in the first part of her treatise.
Don't get me wrong, some people need all the details and several sets of data spelled out for them. In this case, I think most people can agree that with more women in the workforce, a more consumerism approach to happiness (i.e. need for more money), the reluctance of the American workplace to accommodate parents and the biological fact that women make the breast milk, we women will continue to face a tough choice. (I feel like I've just summed up what this book is about). Shall I bother to finish it? Hmm, yet another tough choice...

The second book I'm reading is a great sharing book with Ken. I like to read it to him right before we go to bed. I first heard about it on NPR and it's a doozy called "Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation." Now before you get all flustered, this is a scientifically researched book, cleverly written in the form of a sex advice column. Insects and animals "write in" to Dr. Tatiana who illuminates on relationships, courtship, sex, reproduction, parenthood and behavior commonplace in the animal kingdom. Insects by far have the most bizarre situations. The other day I read about the female praying mantis and the Australian redback spider who actually eat their mates after doing "the nasty" --in a way that really earns its name. It also talks about the fascinating way nature has equipped all beings, large and small, with advantages to propagate their species. It's a dense book, full of facts and humor. I definitely recommend.

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