Nerdy Sunday! Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

2014-07-06 07.13.36

What’s on your nightstand?

The things a person keeps next to them at night reveals a lot about them. Their interests, priorities, quirks, the important things in their life, the important people, the time they wake up…..

So, what’s on my night stand these days?

A lot of things …….

A pacifier/ soother (duh!)

A beloved, untiring, industrious lil magical being- My iPad

An alarm clock (which no longer bears any significance in my life- as my actual alarm clock is is a living, breathing 6 kg being)

My cool but superannuated mobile phone (non Galaxy/iPhone/Blackberry)


My planner/organiser

My purple, uber-chic sippy water bottle (kept there partly to quench my thirst and partly to  drive Mr H crazy with the slurping noises)

Random infant toys

And, finally- A BOOK.

My most recent read is “LEAN IN. WOMEN, WORK AND THE WILL TO LEAD” by Sheryl Sandberg. Today being “Nerdy Sunday”, thought I’d do a book review. (Yes, this entire random ramble does lead somewhere!)

Here’s my two cents on the book, in ten questions:

1. How/ Why/ Where did you buy the book?

Normally, this is not the type of book I’d pick up, as the title does seem a tad preachy / pretentious, “self-help” sort.  I bought it for a  plane ride. (“Ha! High hopes” said Mr H. He was right of course. Lil Z made absolutely and completely sure that I did not touch it during the journey.

Four possible reasons that tugged me into buying this:

i)Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk

ii)My current “work/ family?” conundrum

iii)Motherhood seems to have cleaned up my slate a bit, am now open to new experiences

iv)I am a closet feminist

2. What is the book about?

Penned by Sheryl Sandberg (COO at Facebook and ex-VP at Google) it talks about women in the workplace and how we tend to step back when we start a family. She asks women to “lean in” and “sit at the table”. Women should be encouraged to speak up at the workplace and men should assume more responsibility at home she avers.

3. First impressions?

Started off well. I pictured myself in some of the instances that she cited. I heard myself in her words. Reasonably engaging.

4.Final evaluation?

A decent read. Especially for a woman in my circumstance. Millions of women are battling work versus family tug o wars. This book would be akin to having a conversation with a sympathetic older woman who has been through it all before.
Working in a testosterone ridden field myself, I understand where she comes from. The bias may not be blatant and in your face always, but it is ever present- lurking just under the surface.

“But while gender was not openly acknowledged, …………………………… I started to see differences in attitudes towards women. I started noticing how often employees were judged not by their objective performance, but by the subjective standard of how well they fit in.Given that the summer outing at McKinsey was a deep-sea fishing trip and most company dinners ended with whiskey sipping and cigar smoking, I sometimes struggled to pass the “fitting in” test. One night, encouraged by the male partners, I puffed away on a cigar- just one of the guys. Except that smoking nauseated me and I reeked of cigar smoke for days. If that was fitting in, I stuck out.”

The above passage definitely rings a bell!

 A few helpful suggestions.

Couple of life stories.

Studies quoted to prove the point.

In a nutshell……

Tad preachy?
Yes. But it’s written in a simple, conversational manner which makes it an easy read.

Does it outright inspire me and get me all gung-ho about my getting back to work.?
Hmmmm…. Not really. In fact, sometimes it makes me feel bad about situations that I have not lived through yet.

For example, I already am fretting about missing lil Z’s kindergarten graduation/ prize days/ debate competitions/cupcake day/…….

I am also left wondering…..

What if I get stuck at work?

Will I be a bad mother?

Will Mr H resent me?

5. How long did it take to finish?

I am a “finish it in one go” sort when it comes to books. But this took several nights. All the “new parent exhaustion” meant that I usually was passed out on the book long before I turned a single page.

6. Critique?

I have great respect for women who stay at home and raise children. It may possibly be one of the hardest “jobs” out there. I may come across sounding clichéd but ‘tis the truth. Do not read this book if you are a stay at home mum though. It may make you feel a little “left out”,like you’ve haven’t  done enough, or achieved enough.

Also, when you read about a single subject for almost 200 pages, you end up thinking about it even after you finish. You run scenarios through in your head. Ideas form. Opinions are created. In the end, you end up creating notional problems and start looking for illusionary answers. Yes, balancing family and work is hard for a woman but it is better sometimes to not think too much and just jump headlong into something. People like me who are prone to over-thinking can compound problems of the future and corrupt the perfectly pleasant present. I am not blaming the book though. This is a reader issue.

7.Who would you recommend this book to?

Young women and MEN (yes MEN!) who are just starting a family and also looking at climbing the next rung on their career ladder at the same time.
The women will find some consolation and hope (that women have been facing the same problems for a while now) while men will find some perspective.

8.Would you read it again?

Don’t think so.

9. Do you regret purchasing it?


10. Favourite part/ quote from the book?

“I still face situations that I fear are beyond my capabilities. I still have days when I feel like a fraud. And I still sometimes find myself spoken over and discounted while men sitting next to me are not. But now I know how to take a deep breath and keep my hand up. I have learned to sit at the table.”

So, what’s on your nightstand?

Any good books you read lately?

Happy Sunday everyone!


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