Monday, January 19, 2009

What I Was Reading

I had three books I wanted to share with readers that have been on my nightstand. I am in the middle of all of them and am rotating them around so I thought I would give a little update on what is feeding my blog-brain for the future.

I had to title this post "What I Was Reading" because, given the crazy climate for buying a house, my husband and I put much energy into hunting down, finding, and are now in the home inspection process of buying a new house. Thus, I have not been reading these books for a couple of weeks so that will delay blog reflection even more! But, as a public service announcement I just had to say to women everywhere--call a mortgage professional if you think you may want to purchase a house. This is not our first house so we aren't eligible, but it is my understanding that there are amazing deals for first-time home-buyers. Look into it. This is a little about empowering women to take charge of their finances ala Suze Orman. Don't rent forever if you know you might be in the same place for the next few years. Houses/condos/new construction is on sale as well as interest rates. The climate is unlike any other in my lifetime. My mortgage officer said she hasn't seen rates like this in the 22 years she has been in the business.

We also learned that when it was once insulting to offer 10% off of a purchase price to begin negotiations, these days that is often a normal starting point. So you can afford to bargain and wait for the right house, especially if you aren't dying to move (which we weren't).

OK, back to the books I was reading before I became overwhelmed with real estate...

Misconceptions, by Naomi Wolf
This book is a great way to get childless-feminists to understand mother-feminists. It should be required reading in Women's Studies depts to help women understand the biology behind motherhood. How your brain, along with your uterus, changes so that you will mother a child to the best of your ability. Not with the ability to succeed in a labor force that was designed for men (which women have proved they can do), but instead gain the ability to have extra patience and extra empathy for a tiny dependent creature. Even if you have never thought of yourself as liking babies or small children, please read this book so you can understand what has happened to your feminist friends. They are still feminists, they just march to a different beat. What makes this book so important is that Naomi (much like myself) thought many of the mothering stereotypes wouldn't happen to her. I am loving her reflections on how she thinks pregnancy alone needs to be viewed as an accomplishment in society. I haven't read yet about her birth or her new baby.

The Sexual Paradox, by Susan Pinker
Nutshell: Girls that do very very well in school often choose to leave the labor force as adults while boys that do very poorly in school find holes in society where they can be experts and end up working long hard hours, often leading to great success. For instance, we often think of cooking as women's work but professional chefs are usually men. Turns out that this profession is incredibly intense and used to turn off many would-be female chefs (I trust the tide is turning). One man Pinker discusses is one who was dyslexic in school and never could do well. He found a profession where reading was limited and excelled. Much more to read, much more to dissect.

A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink
"Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future." I did not begin to think of myself as a right-brainer until recently. I was a rule follower and a just-do-the-standardized-test girl and felt pretty good about it. The world worked for me and I worked for it. The system was just fine, not perfect, but not that bad either. But then college, then studying abroad, then Sept 11th and most importantly, motherhood broke me out of my good-girl upbringing. The idea of telling my child to respect authority because that what authority demands is *not* how I want my children to think. I realize that I was still very left-brained when I worked on Wall Street. I did not understand why we were making so much money, I did not see the value we added to our clients. Nevertheless, I trusted my superiors and kept my nose to the grindstone. When I left that job, I promised myself I would always check into my instincts and believe in them. Reading about pregnancy and childbirth further helped me believe that our instincts are rarely given a priority when we make decisions today. Too much is decided on "that's just the way you do things" or "well, I owe it to my parents/education/peers to do something viewed as successful" when really, success finds you after you follow your instincts, at least that is my current philosophy. I am not saying every gut reaction is one to follow to your death. I do think each one is worth checking into and understanding where the instinct comes from, what you might know that others do not about yourself and how you see the world. But whoops, off topic, Pink doesn't really talk about instincts, he talks about design, empathy and story, and other skills that we (as a very left-brained society) don't view as skills at all. One point that is very simple to illustrate his thesis is how how MFA programs are landing their graduates similar positions at Fortune 500 companies as MBA programs. Corporations today know that story and design are huge. And if you haven't shopped at a Target yet, you should do so before reading this book. Much of what he uses to exemplify the abundance we have in our country and how our minds want more than left-brained solutions is showing how design is practically Target's middle name. The store, the products, and the actual designers of their items are a focus...the simple utility of objects is no longer enough for us.

Anyway, I'll be trying to finish one of these books soon and I hope to give a real review...or even a proofread one! With a June move date one might hope I could finish at least one book but, well, I know myself better than that. Wish me luck.


christina said...

Hi, This is an unrelated comment, but i wanted to see when the birth circle meet ups that you talk about are?
Thanks so much!!

Cynthia said...

Birth Circle meets on the 3rd Monday of every month at Body*Mind*Spirit yoga studio in the Preston Plaza. We try to start at 7 but you are welcome to come as late as you want, we tend to finish at 9. For more information about Birth Circle and Birth Matters Virginia please see the website:

Hope to see you soon!