Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Reading challenge 2013: Lean In - Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

The fourth book in my challenge to ready 12 non-fiction books in 2013 is Lean In - Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.

I'm not one for self-help books, or business books about how various people became successful (so I've never previously read any), but I'd heard so much about Sandberg's book that I felt compelled to pick it up.

And I'm glad that I did.

I found Lean In a great read from start to finish, and Sandberg (COO of Facebook, there, obligatory mention over) made some points that really hit home with me. 

Her anecdotes combined with statistics (lots of statistics) and the research she quoted meant her arguments weren't just things I think and feel at work on a regular basis, but genuine problems with the world of work and its attitude towards gender as a whole.

Granted, there were some bits of Lean In that felt a little patronising, especially the chapter where Sandberg talks about making sure you have a good man by your side to help out, a fact she thinks will help drive equality in the workplace and at home. That's as maybe, but it also ignores all the single people out there, not to mention all the single-parent families, and people whose home lives may not be the conventional 2.4.

But Sandberg is the first to acknowledge that she is very lucky - she has a supportive husband and the pair are in a financial situation that makes it easier for them to afford quality childcare. Sandberg is also quick to admit that she sometimes contradicts herself, at one point telling women to sit at the table, and at another acknowledging there have been times in her own life where she definitely did not sit at the table.

One of the most interesting points in the book comes when Sandberg discusses the concept of feminism, and how reluctant women (including her younger self) are to label themselves as feminists. She makes the point that a feminist is "someone who believes in social, political, and economic equality of the sexes".

I didn't expect to enjoy Lean In, due to my scepticism about self-help books, but Sandberg's book isn't really a step-by-step guide to how to be a successful woman in business, it's more a discussion on women in business and a treatise on changing opinions so that gender is no longer an issue. Sandberg's book has left me confident that I'm a feminist (something I thought I was but didn't admit to much). Best of all, it's given me the confidence to lean in. Watch out world.

Top Ten Tuesday (#4) - Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish, where the writers, like me, are particularly fond of lists.
This week's topic is...
Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book.

Okay, this is a really, really difficult one, so I've stretched it a bit to include authors and genres.

1. Young adult
Am I allowed to pick a whole genre? I'm doing it anyway.

2. Dystopia
I'm a big fan of dystopian fiction, although the genre can be a bit hit and miss.

3. Nora Roberts
Roberts is my go-to gal for easy reads with happy endings, and I'll pick up every new book of hers even though I could probably guess down to the word what's going to happen.

4. Janet Evanovich
Laught out loud chick lit with an edge, what more could I ask for? I'll read anything by Evanovich.

5. Murder mysteries
I'm a sucker for a good mystery (evidenced even as a child by all the Famous Five and Nancy Drew books I read), and although I'll probably be scared for much of the time I'm reading a good murder mystery, I'll still also really enjoy myself.

6. London
Specifically east London. I grew up not far from the city, and now that I work there I get a real thrill reading books that are set in places I know.

7. Ballet
When I was little, I loved books about ballet, and I discovered that hadn't changed when I picked up Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black.

8. Cookbooks
I don't often buy cookbooks, but I've recently acquired a number through people buying them for me as gifts. The more cookbooks I get given, the more obsessed I get with them, and I love looking through them in bookshops.

9. Books about people with powers
I didn't want to put this one down under paranormal, because I've gone off books about vampires (I had my fill of Twilight and True Blood), and I'm not really that into books about witches and wizards. However, I do find books that explore the lives of people with interesting and unusual powers fascinating.

10. Real life people in fiction
I love reading historical fiction which features real people and is a dramtisation of their lives, but clearly researched so as to still be realistic. So stuff like Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl (as well as other books by her), Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring etc.

What are the things that make you immediately pick up a book? 

Teaser Tuesday (#5)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Here are the rules: 
•Open your current read 
•Open to a random page 
•Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page 
•Be careful not to include spoilers! 
•Share the title and author too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their to be read list if they like your teaser.

From Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, chapter four:

That's right. Years before Mark famously crashed that same Harvard system, I beat him to it.

What are you reading?


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