I have found all of these books useful, thought provoking or amusing.
I don’t agree with everything they say, but they certainly provide food for thought. Blurbs are publishers’ descriptions from Amazon.com
Links are also to Amazon.com
- Buxton, Jayne. Ending the Mother War; Starting the Workplace Revolution .A deconstruction of the myths that can cloud debates about working mothers. This book argues that by pitting so-called “Earthmothers” against the media-created “Superwoman”, the real issues that can prevent women with families from combining work and kids are hijacked.
- Crittenden, Ann. The Price of Motherhood; Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued. In the pathbreaking tradition of Backlash and The Second Shift, this provocative book shows how mothers are systematically disadvantaged and made dependent by a society that exploits those who perform its most critical work. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and the most current research in economics, history, child development, and law, Ann Crittenden proves that although women have been liberated, mothers have not. The costs of motherhood are everywhere apparent. College-educated women pay a “mommy tax” of over a million dollars in lost income when they have a child. Family law deprives mothers of financial equality in marriage. Stay-at-home mothers and their work are left out of the GDP, the labor force, and the social safety net. With passion and clarity, Crittenden demonstrates that proper rewards for mothers’ essential contributions would only enhance the general welfare. Bold, galvanizing, full of innovative solutions, The Price of Motherhood offers a much-needed accounting of the price that mothers pay for performing the most important job in the world.
- Flanagan, Caitlin. To Hell With All That; Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife. Having so many choices, Caitlin Flanagan maintains, has torn women away from what many of them want most: to raise a family and run a household. It’s a nearly heretical statement today, and, like so many of the fresh ideas put forth in Flanagan’s hilarious, entertaining, and provocative book, it might make some readers angry but it will also make them think.
- Hewlett, Sylvia Ann. Creating a Life; Professional Women and the Quest for Children A survey, undertaken specifally for this book, shows that 40% of women earning $50,000 or more a year are childless at age 45. So why is the age-old business of having babies so very elusive for this generation of high-achieving women? Why is it that all the new power and prestige does not translate into easier choices on the family front? It seems that women can be astronauts, CEOs, Secretaries of State, but increasingly, they cannot be mothers. Sylvia Hewletts powerful book looks at the hard and disturbing facts and goes on to advocate a new way of approaching the question of motherhood vs. career for a new generation of women.
- Hewlett, Sylvia Ann. Off-Ramps and On-Ramps; Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success With talent shortages looming over the next decade, what can companies do to attract and retain the large number of professional women who are forced off the career highway? By documenting the successful efforts of a group of cutting-edge global companies to retain talented women and reintegrate them if they’ve already left, “Off-Ramps and On-Ramps” answers this critical question. Working closely with companies such as Ernst and Young, Goldman Sachs, Time Warner, General Electric and others, author Sylvia Ann Hewlett identifies what works and why. Based on firsthand experience with these companies, along with extensive data that provides the most comprehensive and nuanced portrait of women’s career paths, this book documents the actions forward-thinking companies must take to reverse the female brain drain and ensure their access to talent over the long term.
- Hochschild, Arlie Russell.The Time Bind; When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work.The national bestseller that put “work/family balance” in the headlines and on the White House agenda, with a new introduction by the author.When The Time Bind was first published in 1997, it was hailed as the decade’s most influential study of our work/family crisis. In the short time since, the crisis has only become more acute.Arlie Russell Hochschild, bestselling author of The Second Shift, spent three summers at a Fortune 500 company interviewing top executives, secretaries, factory hands, and others. What she found was startling: Though every mother and nearly every father said “family comes first,” few of these working parents questioned their long hours or took the company up on chances for flextime, paternity leave, or other “family friendly” policies. Why not? It seems the roles of home and work had reversed: work was offering stimulation, guidance, and a sense of belonging, while home had become the place in which there was too much to do in too little time.Today Hochschild’s findings are more relevant than ever. As she shows in her new introduction, the borders between family and work have become even more permeable. With the Internet extending working hours at home and offices offering domestic enticements — free snacks, soft music — to keep employees later at their jobs, The Time Bind stands as an increasingly important warning about the way we live and work.
- Iovine, Vicki. The Girlfriends’ Guide to Getting Your Groove Back; Loving Your Family Without Losing Your Mind.Fresh from the battles of baby- and toddler-hood, Vicki Iovine shows moms how to navigate the twists and turns of perpetual parenthood-and find time for their kids, their spouses, their homes, their work, and themselves.Moms will find humorous and helpful advice on:
-How to focus at work when things at home are in chaos (and vice versa)
-Rediscovering the boyfriends living in the bodies of their husbands
– Homework help-the transformation into human flashcards
-The dinnertime crush and how to relieve frozen pizza fatigue
-Making time for yourself without feeling guilty
- Jackson, Marni. The Mother Zone; Love, Sex and Laundry in the Modern Family A frank, witty memoir explores the dark side of motherhood–the fatigue, the mood swings, the conflicting emotions–offering an intimate look at the trials and tribulations of being a mother in the modern age.
- Lerner, Harriet. The Mother Dance; How Children Change Your Life How does motherhood change you? Who or what do you become when you become a mother? “We can’t begin to know what our children will evoke in us until we have them,” says psychologist and psychotherapist Dr. Harriet Lerner, author of the bestselling The Dance of Anger. Lerner set out to write a book on parenting, and ended up with a thoughtful and honest book focusing on the experience of being a mother–a woman’s experiences, needs, and changes as she travels through the trials and pleasures of pregnancy, birth, power struggles, guilt, anxiety, relationship challenges, sibling struggles, and separation. Filled with personal stories and case studies, The Mother Dance offers mothers-to-be a guide for the road ahead, and women who are already mothers will recognize their own dilemmas and situations, and gain clarity about their experiences. Throughout, Lerner is wise, personal, and truthful about her own failings. This book is a welcome addition to the recent discourse on the mothering experience.
- Pearson, Allison. I Don’t Know How She Does It Allison Pearson’s debut novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It, is a rare and beautiful hybrid: a devastatingly funny novel that’s also a compelling fictional world. You want to climb inside this book and inhabit it. However, you might find it pretty messy once you’re in there. Narrator Kate Reddy is the manager of a hedge fund and mother of two small children. The book opens with an emblematic scene as Kate “distresses” a store-bought mince pie to make it appear homemade. Her days are measured in increments of minutes and even seconds; her fund stays organized but her house and family are falling apart. The book is a pearly string of great lines. Here’s Kate on lack of sleep: “They’re right to call it a broken night…. You crawl back to bed and you lie there trying to do the jigsaw of sleep with half the pieces missing.” On baby boys: “A mother of a one-year-old son is a movie star in a world without critics.” On subtle office dynamics:The women in the offices of EMF [Kate’s firm] don’t tend to display pictures of their kids. The higher they go up the ladder, the fewer the photographs. If a man has pictures of kids on his desk, it enhances his humanity; if a woman has them it decreases hers. Why? Because he’s not supposed to be home with the children; she is.
There’s inherent drama here: Kate is wildly appealing, and we want things to work out for her. In the end, the book isn’t a just collection of clever lines on the theme of working motherhood; it’s a real, rich novel about a character we come to cherish.
- Peri, Camille and Kate Moses, eds. Mothers who Think; Tales of Real-life Parenthood This book should come as manna to moms: a multitude of small, wry voices reminding them they’re not alone. Mothers Who Think is a collection of pieces from the Salon magazine column of the same name. The column (and the book) has no fixed perspective, no set goal, no political agenda–just a bunch of women writers mouthing off about changing diapers. Okay, more than just diapers. There’s Rahna Reiko Rizzuto on her gruesome labor (“the mucus plug … fell out of my underwear and onto my husband’s shoe”); hipMama editor Ariel Gore on family court (“I learned that two professionals on a case are usually worse than none. That three can be dangerous”); Susan Straight on being a single mom and taking care of everything yourself (“I just wish I didn’t look so bad doing it”); and Elizabeth Rapoport on being a married mom and taking care of everything yourself (“I must confess I’m a little jaded by these sociological pissing contests. Just wake me when the dads are doing 50 percent. Period”). A couple of dozen others chime in as well, notably novelist Anne Lamott, New York Times reporter Alex Witchel, and sexpert Susie Bright. Editors Camille Peri and Kate Moses have created a chorus with range: this is not a stream of white, privileged voices interrupted only occasionally by news from the underclass, news from women of color, or news from sexual minorities. If anything, the book is too focused on a wide variety of very personal stories–one often wishes for the gesture of expansion, the linking of the personal to the cultural. Still, that’s a small gripe to have with a book that takes us into the brainier, funnier kitchens of motherhood all over America
- Rich, Adrienne. Of Woman Born A feminist classic ,first published in 1976.
- Thurer, Shari. The Myths of Motherhood; How Culture Reinvents the Good Mother. Thurer, a psychologist, gives the reader an overview of how mothrehood has been viewed from the Stone Age through Ancient Greece, medieval and Renaissance Europe into the twentieth century.
- Waring, Marilyn. Counting for Nothing; What Men Value and What Women are Worth. Safe drinking water counts for nothing. A pollution-free environment counts for nothing. Even some people – namely women – count for nothing. This is the case, at least, according to the United Nations System of National Accounts. Author Marilyn Waring, former New Zealand M.P., now professor, development consultant, writer, and goat farmer, isolates the gender bias that exists in the current system of calculating national wealth.As Waring observes, in this accounting system women are considered ‘non-producers’ and as such they cannot expect to gain from the distribution of benefits that flow from production. Issues like nuclear warfare, environmental conservation, and poverty are likewise excluded from the calculation of value in traditional economic theory. As a result, public policy, determined by these same accounting processes, inevitably overlooks the importance of the environment and half the world’s population.Counting for Nothing, originally published in 1988, is a classic feminist analysis of women’s place in the world economy brought up to date in this reprinted edition, including a sizeable new introduction by the author. In her new introduction, the author updates information and examples and revisits the original chapters with appropriate commentary. In an accessible and often humorous manner, Waring offers an explanation of the current economic systems of accounting and thoroughly outlines ways to ensure that the significance of the environment and the labour contributions of women receive the recognition they deserve.
- Warner, Judith. Perfect Madness; Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety The old adage is especially true for Perfect Madness: don’t judge this eminently readable book by its stern and academic-looking cover. Judith Warner’s missive on the “Mommy Mystique” can be read in a weekend, if readers have the time. Of course–according to the book–many would-be readers will have to carve out the hours in between an endless sea of child-enriching activities, a soul-sucking swirl that leads many mothers into a well of despair. Warner’s book seeks to answer the question, “Why are today’s young mothers so stressed out?” Whether shuttling kids to “enriching” after-school activities or worrying about the quality of available child care, the women of Perfect Madness describe a life far out of balance. Warner spends most of the book explaining how things got to this point, and what can be done to restore some sanity to the parenting process.Warner draws her research from a group of 20- to 40-year-old, upper-middle-class, college-educated women living in the East Coast corridor. In other words, mirror images of Warner herself. Her limited scope has caused controversy and criticism, as have some of her more sweeping statements. (For example, Warner blames second-wave feminism–rather than corporate culture–for the many limitations women still experience as they try to balance the work-family dynamic.) Other favorite targets include the mainstream media, detached fathers, and controlling, “hyperactive” mothers who create impossible standards for themselves, their children, and the community of other parents around them. Warner begins and ends the book with a compelling argument for the need for more societal support of mothers–quality-of-life government “entitlements” such as those found in France. It’s these big-picture issues that will provide the solution, she says, even if most mothers don’t want to discuss them because they consider the topic “tacky, strident-sounding, not the point.” In these sections on governmental policy, and also when she steps back, encouraging women to be kinder to each other, the author’s warmth comes across easily on the page. Pilloried by some readers and supported by others, Warner should at least be applauded for opening up the Pandora’s Box of American motherhood for a new generation. And if readers are of two minds about the issues raised Perfect Madness, as Warner sometimes seems to be herself, it’s a fitting reaction to a topic with few easy answers.