January 19 – Review some non-fiction books!

I haven’t posted in 3 days. Let me hang my head in shame! It is mostly because I had nothing to post about, which is a poor excuse for not posting in this month of posting every day. But the past few days have been a lot of doing the same things I have been doing all month, which is good, and the point of this month, but which don’t make for good blogging. (I’m pretty sure I’ve already said this sentence this month, for example.) Anyway, it’s time to review some books!

It’s midnight on a Saturday! I apologize for any typos or opinions that change tomorrow. There will also be no book images, because I feel lazy. I’m sorry.

Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti

So I forgot that GoodReads is synced up to my Facebook (because otherwise there’s nothing on my timeline, womp womp) and when this book popped up, one of my friends left a single comment: “?”. It’s a provocative title, that’s meant to elicit reactions like my friend’s, but which has little to no bearing on the actual content of the book. As interesting as the book was, I didn’t find it to be very revolutionary. I also didn’t like Valenti’s idea at the beginning of the book that it was meant to make the reader mad. Maybe because I agreed with most of what Valenti said, but I didn’t think anything she said was particularly anger-inducing. It has a very simple thesis: we put too much pressure on ourselves and other mothers as a society, so we should probably cool it. There was some other stuff in there, but two weeks later that’s the gist I remember.

I wish there had been more to this book. I wanted more serious solutions to these very serious problems, but I realize that each chapter could have probably been a whole book in itself. So if you approach this book as a basic overview of the issues that affect middle class mothers and feminism, then you won’t be disappointed. If you go in expecting a more in depth and thoughtful discussion of the topic (that has a wider scope that just US-upper-middle-class motherhood), then I would suggest looking elsewhere.

StuffCompulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Gail Steketee and Randy Frost

Where Why Have Kids? suffered from not having enough content, Stuff suffered from having too much. This was case study, academic study, and self-help book all in one and it felt a little repetitive and overwhelming. That being said, I really learned a lot about hoarding that was absolutely fascinating and eye opening. I love that the title of this book is the “meaning of things” because that was really the focus of the book: how do people with hoarding problems assign meaning to objects and how is it different from people without hoarding problems? One of the main points of the book is that people who hoard are often more perceptive and make more unique connections between objects and people and events than the average person. So, the reason a person who hoards can’t throw a piece of trash away is because the assign it some meaning that the average person never would.

After reading this book, I read a few online reviews and it’s amazing to see how many people have been helped by this book. The book is completely eye opening: I have to admit that I think of hoarding in a completely different way nowI read this book a few chapters at a time, often putting it down for a week or so and going back to it. It’s a good book for that and overall is very interesting and informative, but I do wish it had been a little bit less repetitive and a little bit more clearly structured. It was never clear to me why the authors chose some case studies over others or what they hoped we would learn from each one.


4 thoughts on “January 19 – Review some non-fiction books!

  1. Oh, shame the Jessica Valenti book wasn’t better! I always want to love her, but I had the exact same problem when I read her book The Purity Myth. It was fine, but I wanted more from it. I thought she was dismissive of her opponents — just not engaging with them at all! — so the whole thing didn’t feel fully contextualized.

    1. Interesting! I didn’t realize that she was also the author of The Purity Myth. My roommate read that in college and it has been on my TBR for a while. I think she did a little bit better engaging with her opponents in Why Have Kids? but not much better.

  2. The latter sounds interesting to me: not the hoarding bit, but the “meaning of things” bit! It’s surprising difficult to find books about our modern relationship with things, and how to approach that relationship. Or books about simplicity, etc.

    1. Eva, I think you would really like STUFF, especially if you’re interested in the relationship between people and their things.

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