Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Pregnancy Project

Being a young and single mom was common in Gaby's family. Her mom and older sisters all became pregnant as teenagers. Gaby doesn't have any plans to follow their lead.

As her senior project, Gaby decides to fake a pregnancy to see how family, friends, peers, and teachers would react to her. Would they not be surprised? Was being a teen mom just something that was expected of her?

So she fakes a pregnancy through the sixth month or so when she reveals to the school in a presentation that she's actually not pregnant, and she talks about what she learned about high school students, stereotypes, and gossip.

I read this book in a day because it was quite short. I thought the premise was interesting. However, there was something about Gaby that annoyed me. At times, she comes across as a know-it-all, and quite smug. Also, the whole playing a trick/fooling people didn't sit well with me.

So not really recommending this book, just recording it as a book that I read.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott

Clara Purdy is 43-years-old, divorced, and working at an insurance company. While driving during a lunch break, she crashes into a car carrying a homeless family. At the hospital, it turns out that the bruises on the mom indicate late-stage cancer. Clara decides to move the three kids and the cranky grandma into her house while the mother recovers (the dad takes off).

This is one of those slow, rich reads that can be savored over days/weeks. I really enjoyed it, and was glad that it was on the longer side.

Warning: for those of you who like nice and tidy endings, this book doesn't have one.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan

For one year, the author goes undercover to investigate how Americans eat and what it would take for us to eat in a more healthy manner. She spends time in California picking garlic, in Michigan working in the produce section of WalMart, and in New York working in the kitchen of an Applebee's. She also makes herself live on the money she makes from these jobs which is a challenge in itself.

Throughout the book, McMillan also weaves in her research about America's food industry. There is a lot of research cited, and many, many footnotes (so many that it got annoying and I stopped reading them).

I liked the sections about her own experience at these jobs. I also really liked the author. She comes across as down-to-earth, friendly, open, and humble. The only thing that detracted from this book was all of the research that she includes. It felt very academic, which is okay, but when I read for fun, I don't like reading a bunch of research. (Even two years after finishing grad school, I sometimes still revel in the fact that I don't have homework or required reading. But for my blog readers out there who are still in school, Carry on! The day is coming when you can read all for fun!)

One disturbing thing - I found out that eating at Applebee's is basically like eating processed food. All of the food comes in plastic baggies that are just defrosted, heated up again, and plated.

Giving this book a so-so review.

I would recommend Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich if you want to read an excellent undercover book about how someone survives (or not really) when making minimum wage in America.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lust in Translation: Infidelity from Tokyo to Tennessee by Pamela Druckerman

This is by the same author as Bringing Up Bebe, one of the more interesting books I've read in 2012. I really liked Druckerman's writing, so I checked this one out.

She travels to a bunch of countries - South Africa, Russia, Japan, China, etc. and investigates what the cultural norms and thinking are around infidelity. Basically, she finds out that most other cultures in the world don't think about infidelity the same way that Americans do.

This book was so-so. However, it's good for me to be reminded that people think about things differently, and how big a role culture plays in forming our morals and judgments.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married by Iris Krasnow

The author interviewed over 200 wives who have been married for 15+ years. Some of their stories are included in the book, and some are pretty interesting. Some are just plain sad.

Along the way, Krasnow discusses her own marriage. Her husband isn't that emotionally engaged - when she has big news about an upcoming trip, he asks her to go talk to the neighbor (a male) instead of pulling him away from watching a hockey game.

Anyway, the main secret seems to be to have your own identity apart from your husband and children.

I have mixed feelings about this book. It was sometimes interesting, sometimes discouraging, and sometimes sad. I know that I can't recommend it to you.

Friday, May 4, 2012

No Cheating, No Dying: I Had a Good Marriage. Then I Tried To Make It Better. by Elizabeth Weil

Elizabeth and her husband had two rules for their marriage: No cheating and no dying. After ten years of marriage, she starts to wonder if maybe their expectations are too low. And so begins a time of intentionally seeking ways to improve their marriage - marriage counseling, reading self-help books, seeing a sex therapist, etc.

A very interesting premise for a book, eh? But her husband comes off as not very likeable, so I didn't really care that much about them. Fortunately, it was a very, very short book.

I'm all for being intentional about taking care of your marriage, but if you're looking for a book to help you out, I recommend that you skip this book.