Book Reports

Lean In

I’ve gotten sloppy again in my reading. I’ve been spending this summer focusing on working out, taking care of myself and keeping more connected with those people who inspire me and feed my soul. And while I certainly don’t regret any of those choices, it does mean I’ve spent less time reading. But like so many patterns in my life, travel means reading and a recent trip back home to Minnesota was no exception. I had a chance to catch up on some books I’ve been excited about (and purchasing a few more to add to my ever-growing pile. I better get on that!).

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of those books was Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. I know I’m a little late to the party (I usually am when it comes to books – and new technologies if we’re being honest), but I had also put this one off for a bit after reading about the passing of Sandberg’s husband, Dave Goldberg. I knew one of the chapters of her book outlined the importance of having an equal partner, and the cruelty of her partner being taken away from her in such an unexpected way after preparing for a lifetime together seemed like it might be more than I could handle. It’s always hard to hear about the passing of another’s loved one, but his passing in what seemed to be the prime of their lives together seems incredibly unfair (I know, I know…life is never fair. But sometimes it seems exceptionally unfair.).

That said, I’m glad I decided to read the book anyway. Obviously I don’t know her at all, but after reading her book, I’m interested in learning more about her. I want to listen to her TEDTalks and read more interviews with her. The titles of her chapters reflect the sort of advice I’ve found helpful in my life and can always use more of. What’s interesting about Sandberg is that she weaves together her own experiences with countless studies and mountains of research. Early on in her writing, she admits to being most comfortable with science and less comfortable sharing her own experiences, but I think we can all relate to that. Science is facts, and you can’t argue with facts, while our opinions and our experience leave us vulnerable to others’ judgments. And while the facts certainly help strengthen her case, it’s Sandberg’s willingness to share of herself through her stories that makes this book so readable. She comes across as the smart, funny and honest big sister, cousin or friend we’d all like to have in our corner. And we know we’d be fiercely loyal to her in return. Her words are simple, though powerful reminders of what we need to do for ourselves and others to lift us all up. We need to sit at the table, seek and speak our truth, and most importantly, talk about it.

I’m already making a mental list of the people to whom I need to recommend or buy this book for – assuming they’re a little behind the times like I am. That to me is always the most powerful indicator of a good story – one I can’t wait to share with others. And assuming you’re more on top of it than I am, I’d love to hear your take on her story as well!

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