It’s that time again. I’ve been catching up on my “reading” with audiobooks during my mega-commute. Here are some of the books I’ve been listening to:
Under the Dome by Stephen King
I bought this physical book a LONG time ago and was planning on reading it in all the free time I had to read books for pleasure after graduating college. I barely got into it before I decided it was a little too graphic for me. Fast forward to around Christmas when my mom was telling me about the TV version of the book that had just been made into a show. She loved the TV show, so I had to re-try the book. This is also the first Stephen King novel I’ve read. Yep. I’ve read his nonfiction book On Writing (which I absolutely recommend), but never a fiction piece by him. Anyway, this one is about a small town that has big problems. No one realizes it, though, until they all get stuck under a giant seemingly magical dome that traps them in and everyone else out. The town splits into factions–some standing behind the good-guy Dale Barbara, others choosing to follow the corrupt Big Jim Rennie. From there, the two groups battle it out on their own as the federal government tries to figure out how to get rid of the dome.
This is a long one, but it kept my attention the whole 30-something hours. I definitely recommend it. The narration was good for this one, too, if you choose to go the audiobook route.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
When this one first came out, I remember listening to reports about it on NPR. There was some controversy surrounding this book, and I remember sitting at a red light listening to another woman talk about how Sandberg was all wrong. And then I read it. And I love it. I can see why it made some people mad, as Sandberg talks about how women can succeed in today’s workplace. Her solution includes working WITHIN the classic gender role system to move yourself up instead of bucking the trends. So, yes, I see why people can be mad that she recommends women ask for raises differently than men. But, in my mind, she’s just trying to tell us how to get what we want instead of waiting another 50+ years for equal pay and treatment in the workplace.
Some of my favorite elements of this book include the results of an interesting study about Heidi/Howard syndrome:
“In 2003, Harvard Business School ran an experiment to test perceptions of men and women in the workplace. They chose the case study of Heidi Roizen, a real-life entrepreneur. The case described how Heidi was successful thanks to her outgoing personality and networking abilities. The same story was read by 2 groups of students with one difference: one group was working on Heidi, for the other, her name was changed to Howard. When asked for their thoughts, both groups found Heidi and Howard equally competent, which made sense, their accomplishments were identical. Nevertheless Howard came across as the more appealing colleague, whilst Heidi was seen as ‘selfish’ and ‘not the person you would like to work for.’ The same data with a single difference – gender – created very different impressions.”
“We’ve ceased making progress at the top in any industry anywhere in the world … In the United States, women have had 14% of the top corporate jobs and 17% of the board seats for 10 years. Ten years of no progress. In those same 10 years, women are getting more and more of the graduate degrees, more and more of the undergraduate degrees, and it’s translating into more women in entry-level jobs, even more women in lower-level management. But there’s absolutely been no progress at the top. You can’t explain away 10 years. Ten years of no progress is no progress.”
So let’s go and get in our favorite position, ladies: CEO.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
This book kept showing up at the top of the Audible charts. I’ve trusted Audible before and loved some of their recommendations and have been burned on others (like when I tried to listen to All the Light We Cannot See–I really wanted to like that one… But The Martian was phenomenal). This is the story of a seemingly pitiful woman, Rachel, whose life has mostly fallen apart. She’s divorced, an alcoholic, jobless, and all-around in a sad state of affairs. She takes the daily train from where she rents a room to where her job used to be so her roommate/landlord doesn’t know she’s jobless. The train stops at the same spot in the middle of her trip almost every day where she sees a happy couple often sitting on their patio drinking coffee or wine, talking, and enjoying life. She makes up an imaginary life for them, which comes crashing down when she witnesses something that changes everything.
Our narrator, an unreliable source of information at best, gets involved in the scenario. Her obsession is cringe-worthy, but the more you read the more she becomes integral to the story. It’s a thriller you’ve got to read/listen to. Sure, it’s not mega literature, but it’s definitely a fun read.
And in searching the internet for more info about it, I see that DreamWorks has acquired it for a film. Huzzah!
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
This was another Audible recommendation. It’s about the kidnapping of the rich Dennett family’s black sheep daughter, Mia. Don’t worry. This isn’t a spoiler. The way the story’s written establishes that from the very beginning. I’ll admit that I’m actually not finished with this book, but I’m pretty sure I’ve figured it out less than halfway in. I won’t spoil it, but I’m not going to say this one’s 5 stars out of 5. The writing is painful at times, and it’s even more obvious when someone else is narrating it (the joy of audiobooks!). The way the story is told is an interesting concept: shifting narration from character to character and jumping through time before and after Mia’s escape from her abductor. However, the execution of the story leaves something to be desired. Apparently, this is the author’s debut novel, so a lot of people are cutting her some slack due to that. I’m going to finish it (mostly to prove that I’m right about who’s behind the kidnapping), but also because I paid for it outside my Audible subscription.
What books are you reading or listening to?