Monday, May 13, 2013

This One's For the Ladies

Think:  Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World

by Lisa Bloom

Published by Vanguard Press

5 Out of 5 Stars

In Think, Lisa Bloom asserts that society has succumbed to our narcissistic, self-indulgent, consumer driven culture. Women today are smart and have more options available to them than ever before, yet what are most of them doing? Applying for The Bachelor, wondering what the hell is going on with Kim Kardashian's marriage or divorce or whatever it is at this point, considering a plethora of cosmetic procedures, and reading online gossip blogs (if they're reading at all). What are they not doing? Using their intellect and first world education to address serious problems, like poverty, hunger, and the repression of women in countries far less fortunate than ours. In other words, they're not thinking. Amen, amen, amen! Obviously, Lisa Bloom is preaching to the choir here and I'm probably not her target audience, but it is certainly nice to feel some affirmation for the intellectual and educational choices I make on a daily basis since they do go against the norm. For example, most women would rather lose their ability to read than their figure (oh, hell no!) or win America's Next Top Model than win the Nobel Peace Prize (my heart weeps).

I'm not necessarily giving Think a 5 star based upon its writing style (although it is accessible and often funny) and there are some points that ever-so-slightly rubbed me the wrong way. For example, Bloom asserts that cleaning is not a woman's job (no complaint from me here) and we should simply outsource it to someone else so we have time to read and think. We should also have our children pitch in and do their part. These are not concepts with which I disagree, but they are easier said than done. Many women can't afford to hire a maid (even on a bimonthly basis) and even the most cooperative of teenagers will pitch a hissy fit upon occasion when asked do their part, yet Bloom makes it sound so effortless. However, I am giving it a 5 star because anyone who advocates the need to read and asserts that it's valuable and worthy of our time is someone with a message that today's culture needs to hear. Don't believe me? Check out the NEA statistics from the 2007 To Read or Not to Read report (also quoted in Bloom's book):

--80% of American families did not read or buy a book last year
--70% of adults have not been to a bookstore in the last 5 years
--1/3 of high school graduates never read another book after graduation

I've read several reviews that scoff at Bloom taking the time to talk about how to make time for reading books, how to choose books, and how to savor books, as though this is "duh" information and unnecessary. Based upon these statistics, I would argue that such information is urgently needed. I teach in a high school classroom and, when my students come to me, most of them are not readers. They don't know how to make time for reading or even how to pick out a book. Reading is not valued in their households. They don't ask for books for birthdays or Christmas. Their parents don't read. There are too many electronic diversions in their lives. I'm proud to say that, by the time they leave my classroom, most of them are readers. Why? Because I've taught them the simple things: how to create and value quiet time for reading, how to choose good books, and how to reflect upon their responses to literature. That's right--I'm bragging, and I should. Because there's nothing more valuable to leading a productive, happy life than reading. And it's a skill that has to be consistently taught and modeled--and that's what Bloom is doing in those chapters. Sure, if you're reading this review, you may not need it as you've obviously bought into a love of reading if you're on a social media site dedicated to it, but I'm willing to bet you know people who probably do. And Think is for them. I, for one, plan on pushing this book like crack-cocaine to the people in my life who need it--especially teenage girls in my classroom. Whether you agree or disagree with Bloom's liberal views, just the advocacy for thinking is worthy of the time it takes to read the book.

No comments:

Post a Comment