Americanah – Chiamanda Ngozi Adiche has become one of my favorite authors after reading Half of a Yellow Sun last year. The author makes the book’s themes of race, cultural assimilation, the adjustment to life as an immigrant, and love both poignant and relatable. The prominent place that blogging has in the story also made that part of the story particularly relevant to me as a blogger. I won’t give away too much about the plot, but this story revolves around Ifemelu, a Nigerian born woman who currently lives in America and Obinze, Ifemelu’s first love and how their lives take very different turns as adults and how they end up reconnecting. If you’re looking for an engrossing read to tackle during the holiday season, definitely check this book out.
Parisienne French: Chic Phrases, Slang & Style – Though I love the language, most of what I learned in the few semesters of French I took in college has been forgotten. Parisienne French was a great refresher that will leave me much more prepared to take my first trip to France (which I hope to do next year!). I found some of the commonly used phrases and basic grammar details very helpful. The book was easy to read from cover to cover but could also easily be used as a reference guide. The book has interesting sightseeing, travel advice, culture and shopping tips. But to be clear, this book is definitely more than simply a phrase book, it even covers items such as flirting/dating tips and social cues that differ from what many Americans are accustomed to. Reading Parisienne French has definitely encouraged me to continue studying French as a hobby in the future. Note: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher, but all opinions are my own.
Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead – So there is a lot of hype around this book, and because of this, I decided to read it myself so I could form my own opinion. Lean In has insightful tidbits from the life experiences of former Google and current Facebook executive, Sheryl Sandberg. Her experiences as a high powered professional woman who juggles a demanding career and a family will have relevancy for many women. Sandberg encourages young women who want both families and demanding careers to “lean in” to their professional duties and not slow down their careers because of their dueling roles as wives, mothers and, caregivers. I appreciate the fact that Sandberg has made such a strong effort to build a dynamic community and start ongoing conversations around the topics discussed in her book. This dialogue is definitely needed today.
The ongoing conversation is so important, because while I can see the value of the information shared in the book, more insights and perspectives on how not only gender, but race, ethnicity, politics, and socio-economic standing can hinder the careers of many women are needed. An avenue that many women take to “lean in” their careers on their own terms (entrepreneurship!) also has a key place in these conversations. Insights from a male perspective would be helpful as well. There are also many high powered women who don’t desire to have children but “leaning in” to their careers while balancing a demanding personal life is relevant to them too. I think this book is worth reading to get the conversation started on how to encourage and advise women who want to excel at their careers at high levels and manage their families, but I see the book as being a starting point and not an all-encompassing manifesto.