I’ve tried in past years to share out book reviews about individual books or even compile lists of what I’ve read but… I read too much, and I never post anything. So this year, I’m imitating a friend at The Living Room by just posting a brief list:
- Shannan Martin, Falling Free, a memoir that challenges the American dream.
- Lori Gottlieb, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, a hilarious memoir about a therapist with issues.
- Hans-Peter Blossfeld, Who marries whom? educational systems as marriage markets. Hella boring demography book; not recommended unless you’re obliged to read it for research, and even then I’m not sure.
- Kim Brooks, Small animals: parenthood in the age of fear. Americans are judgy of parents.
- Matthew Crawford, Shop class as Soulcraft, a good read-aloud for idealists.
- Emilie Zaslow, Playing with America’s Doll, or, how American Girl dolls reflect middle-class values.
- Liz Perle, Money, a Memoir. Oddly, I remember turning pages because it’s so rare I read something in print.
- Miranda Waggoner, Zero Trimester. Turns out, not only are we judgy of parents, we’re judgy of pre-parents.
- Jan MacVarish, Neuroparenting: the expert invasion of family life. Also, how can you raise humans unless you consult the experts?
- Harriett Rubin, Mona Lisa Stratagem, a dubious assertion of old lady powers.
- Elizabeth Gregory, Ready: reasons to wait til you’re olllllddd before you have kids.
- Ann Bell, Misconception: social class and infertility in America.
- Laurie Essig, Love, Inc: dating apps, the big white wedding, and chasing the happily neverafter. An enjoyable takedown of how selling dreams of romance convinces people to wait for their happily ever after rather than make life better now.
- Gemma Hartley, Fed Up: emotional labor, women, and the way forward
- Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? This might sound provocative, but it’s a summary of years of business research into why charismatic risk-taking men rise to the top, even when it harms organizations. His solution? Don’t just promote more incompetent women 😀 but set consistent standards for all leaders.
- Elyakim Kislev, Happy singlehood.
- Kendra Irons, If eve only knew.
- Heather Macdonald, Diversity delusion. A conservative critique of diversity programs.
- Tara Parker-Pope, For better: the science of a good marriage.
- Kate Kaufmann, Do you have kids?
- Castellano, What makes us stay together? Dull.
- Pamela Paul, The starter marriage
- Adele Calhoun, Spiritual rhythms for the Enneagram. Skimmed and referred to friends who like the Enneagram.
- Jackie Hogan, Roots quest: inside America’s genealogy boom. This was a fun read.
- Orna Donath, Regretting motherhood. Brief study of people who regret having kids; a topic they feel guilty talking about, even anonymously.
- Paul Madonna, On to the next dream. Set in the expensive Bay Area.
- Josh Ryan-Collins, Why can’t you afford a home?
- Jesse Mecham, You Need A Budget.
- Linda Bloom, 101 things I wish I knew when I got married. Boring.
- William Ward, The Good Enough Spouse
- Marsha Rising, The family tree problem solver. This was a truly excellent book if you’re into genealogy and hit those roadblocks where Sarah ??? someone was born in 1820 and you can’t figure out what to look for next.
- Laura Vanderkam, Juliet’s school of possibilities.
- Heike Geissler, Seasonal associate. A memoir of working at Amazon. I struggled to get through it.
- Eugene Cho, Overrated.
- Parker Palmer, On the Brink of Everything: grace, gravity, and getting old.
See next, a gap in my reading when I wandered off to England.
- Harriet Washington, A Terrible Thing to Waste: environmental racism and its assault on the American mind. Excellent.
And then, there’s a gap in my reading list when I went to a conference and caught a dreadful cold.
- Emma Woolf, Ministry of Thin.
- Mary Abbajay, Managing Up. I took notes on this and shared it with my boss, because everyone manages up to someone.
- Anthony Warner, The Truth about Fat.
- Shani Organ, Heading home: motherhood, work, and the failed promise of equality.
- Danielle Lindemann, Commuter spouses. An excellent analysis of the situation of professionals who live apart for work; I’ve shared it with numerous commuter spouse friends.
- Caroline Dooner, The F*ck It Diet. Hmm, I tried eating intuitively but I’m still surrounded by the American food supply so I gained 20 lb. Not sure this works.
- Katherine Newman, Downhill from Here: retirement insecurity in the age of inequality.
- David Zahl, Seculosity: how career, parenting, technology, food, politics, and romance became our new religion.
- Ruby Payne, The hidden rules of class at work. I learned that I’m not in the millionaire class that networks over golf. This is not really a surprise.
- Brittney Cooper, Eloquent Rage.
- Sarah Brenton et al, Pressure Cooker: why home cooking won’t solve our problems. Vivid storytelling about the real situations people face when they try to just follow expert advice and cook at home. This is what qualitative sociology looks like at its best.
- Rebecca Todd Peters, Trust Women: a progressive Christian argument for reproductive justice.
- Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz, Homeland Maternity.
- Ruby Payne, Crossing the tracks for love.
- Richard Togman, Nationalizing Sex: fertility, fear, and power.
- Emily Oster, Expecting better.
- Robin Moriarty, What game are you playing?: a framework for redefining success. What game *are* you playing? This is worth skimming at least the first few chapters. The game I’m playing has definitely changed over time in my life, and I imagine it has in yours as well.
- Juliet Lapidos, Talent (novel). I read fiction!
- Emily Oster, Cribsheet: a data-driven guide to better, more relaxed parenting.
- Tove Jansson, Fair Play (novel). More fiction!
- Courtney Maum, Touch (novel). More fiction! can you tell I was on vacation in early June? My brain went to rest mode instead of absorb all the information mode.
- Jennifer Sherman, Those who work, those who don’t. All about how Americans judge work.
- Ludger Viefhues-Bailey, Between a man and a woman?
- J. Shoshanna Ehrlich, Regulating Desire.
- Randi Hutter Epstein, Aroused: the history of hormones.
- Paul Tough, The years that matter most: how college makes or breaks us. A super good read on the place of college in America, particularly for people trying to gain opportunities beyond their hometown or birth families, and how it works–or doesn’t.
- Sarah Smarsh, Heartland: a memoir of working hard and being broke. She’s a good writer.
- Shawn Micallef, The trouble with brunch: work, class and the pursuit of leisure. I thoroughly enjoyed this takedown of the aspirational brunching class.
- Kate Bowler, Everything happens for a reason and other lies I’ve loved. Kate’s another excellent writer and this memoir made me want to read her other work.
- Leslie Bennetts, The feminine mistake.
- Judith Warner, Perfect madness: motherhood in the age of anxiety.
- bell hooks, All about love: new visions. So this was a disappointment. I’ve read bell hooks before, flipped through it and saw a few good quotes in a book shop, and got it for a modernist friend. It turned out to be very new age, and I regretted buying it!
- Darcy Lockman, All the rage: mothers, fathers, and the myth of equal partnership.
- Judy Ryde, White privilege unmasked.
- Shauna Pilgreen, Love where you live: how to live sent in the place you call home. A pastor writes about getting to know wherever you live, whether it’s where you intended to live or not.
- Thomas Erikson, Surrounded by Idiots. On personalities 🙂
- Scott Galloway, The algebra of happiness. Short reflections on life from a business prof.
- Lisa Quinn, Life’s too short to fold fitted sheets. Indeed.
- Elizabeth White, 55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal. Life isn’t always an upward path. Referred to friends in their 50s who are facing downward mobility.
- Jason Fried, It doesn’t have to be crazy at work. I tried to suggest these tweaks (less meetings!) to my workmates, but they said we don’t work in tech…
And then I went to Greece and had fun seeing instead of reading.
- Gijs Beets, The future of motherhood in western societies. Another dreadfully boring demography book. Why do I even skim these?
- Rudy Simone, Aspergirls.
- Meg Wolitzer, The female persuasion (novel).
- Alan Singer, Creating your perfect family size.
- Douglas LaBier, Modern madness: the hidden link between work and emotional conflict.
- Sandra Aamodt, Why diets make us fat.
- Pamela Paul, Parenting, Inc.
- Liz Fosslien, No hard feelings. Something something emotions at work. Nice cartoons.
- Dru Johnson, Human rites, the power of rituals, habits, and sacraments. A faith-based reminder that the ordinary habits we set up affect our lives deeply.
- Elisabeth Badinter, The conflict, how overzealous motherhood undermines the status of women.
- Kristen Ghodsee, Why women have better sex under socialism. Kristen writes engaging academic books. She tried to write a popular polemic here, and didn’t quite hit it. It would help to be looser with data and more scandalous to hit the bestsellers list. My favorite quote, though, is from dismayed men in East Germany, who complained that under socialism, you couldn’t just amass money to get a woman… you had to be interesting! Pity the boring man.
- Molly Millwood, To have and to hold.
- Alexandra Kimball, The seed: infertility is a feminist issue. Alexandra wonders why so many advocates for women don’t speak up about infertility.
- Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian nation. Polemics are often a fun read.
- Jackie Hollis, This particular happiness: a childless love story. She regrets not having kiddos at length. Okay but not great.
When compiling this list, I realized I read some of these earlier than October. What happened to my reading? Oh… I went on a long trip east to see family and New York City, so I’m missing most of the month.
- Cindy Clark, All together now, American holiday symbolism among children and adults. This is dense but had me thinking about aspects of our holidays I usually don’t think about, like how kids are expected to show proper emotions at each holiday so adults can relive it, and how each holiday has a very seasonal feel regardless of which climate you actually live in.
- Scott Rieckens, Playing with FIRE. Fun little memoir about people trying to walk from professions and find a more independent life.
- Anuschka Rees, Beyond beautiful. Don’t worry about appearance — easier said than done! Meh.
- Rachel Vorona Cote, Too much, how Victorian constraints still bind. Meh.
- David Silverman, This land is their land, the Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Trouble History of Thanksgiving. So much New England history that I didn’t know about.
- Bob Clyatt, Work less, live more. Meh.
- Emily Freeman, The next right thing … making life decisions. Meh. When books are meh I usually skim them quickly and look for interesting bits, but I’ve included some of them here.
And then I went to Canada and ate a lot of food for Thanksgiving.
- Rebecca de Souza, Feeding the other: whiteness, privilege, and neoliberal stigma in food pantries. If you like social science analysis, a good read on food pantries.
- Jaron Lanier, Ten arguments for deleting your social media accounts right now. Have I done this yet? Obviously, no, I have not.
- Charlotte Mayerson, Goin’ to the Chapel: dreams of love, realities of marriage.
- Emily Price, Productivity Hacks. I… distracted myself reading about productivity hacks. That’s productive, right?
- Suzanne Bohan, Twenty years of life: why the poor die earlier.
- John Bogle, Enough (memoir). Meh.
- Sheila O’Connor, Evidence of V: a novel in fragments, facts, and fictions. Intriguing family history book about a woman whose grandmother was put in a home for wayward girls when she was found pregnant as a teen, ran off, and was never seen again.
- Anton Nocito, Make your own soda. I got a carbonator and tried fizzing water for a while before I got bored.
- Aaron Carroll, The bad food bible, how and why to eat sinfully. I don’t have any problems with figuring out how to eat delicious food, so I’m not sure why I read this.
- Nora Moosnick, Adopting maternity, white women who adopt transracially or transnationally.
- Jenny Brown, Birth Strike, the hidden fight over women’s work. Spoiler, if women are stressed out and under supported, they tend to be reluctant to have kids.
- JA English-Lueck, Being and Well-being: health and the working bodies of Silicon Valley. I wanted this to be interesting but it dragged on and I skimmed it. Parts were familiar but it could definitely have been shorter.
- Robin Romm, Double bind.
- Mark Sundeen, The unsettlers: in search of the good life in today’s America. Sundeen tells stories in a lively way and I enjoyed this memoir of meeting people who’ve fled cities to homestead across America.
- Hadas Weiss, We have never been middle class. An Israeli academic takes down the idea of the middle class.
- Mary Gatta, Waiting on retirement: aging and economic insecurity in low-wage work. Another depressing book about how you’ll never retire! Merry Christmas!
Summary: Well, to be honest this doesn’t include plenty of books I didn’t finish, or found dull or embarrassing.
I know it slants towards women’s issues and kids but… what’s the point of sharing a reading list if I’m not honest about what I’m thinking about? It was career in my twenties, relationships a few years ago, and now I’m reading a lot on parenting and finance. Predictable, isn’t it?
I know most of what I read is written by well-off, educated Americans and Europeans, which means I’m missing plenty of good perspectives from other folks around the world.
And I haven’t noted kids books here, but I still love a good picture book or middle grade fantasy.
What are you reading? I’d be glad to hear your reading lists or recent favorites below!