Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

March 17, 2015 at 11:55 pm 8 comments

lean-in-bookI’m about a million years behind everyone on this one, but can I add my voice to the chorus of women who felt kind of “meh” about Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg?

The book was given to me by someone with the best of intentions following a recommendation from someone else. This book apparently “changed” this person’s whole life, so that was a ringing endorsement. I dug in.

However, unless you are a woman who is actively leaning out, there might not be a lot in this book for you. Are you a woman who actively thinks about the amount of maternity leave you might get when taking any given job? Great! Are you a woman attended an Ivy League School and are therefore particularly well-connected, but you are wasting your education? Awesome! Read this book. It’s going to tell you to stop dicking around and make the most of the opportunities with which God has seen fit to bless you.

Conversely, are you a woman whose financial situation means you can’t afford to pay for child care, and you therefore must leave your job to take care of your kids for a few years? Then this book is not for you. Sorry.

Are you a woman not at risk of leaning out because you are not having children? Not for you, unless you needed the message to work harder (did you?).

Are you a woman who is working her heart out, but opportunities don’t seem to come for whatever reason? Maybe because you are a minority? Again, not for you. (You’re already leaning in, kiddo, but careful — you might fall off the cliff.)

In short, there are some poignant bits of wisdom in this book, a few one-liners you want to print out on note cards and tape to your computer monitor at work. But I was already a woman who didn’t need to learn to balance children and career, already a woman determined to succeed and already a woman ready to leap at every chance I got. According to Sandberg, I should be working at Google by now.

But I don’t know, what did you think? Did you read it? Do you feel like you are changed for the better?


Entry filed under: Memoir/Autobiography. Tags: , , , .

Library Loot: Week of March 9 ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ by V.E. Schwab

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Corey  |  March 18, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Ugh, books with the basic message of “if you simply want something hard enough, you’ll get it!” really bother me. It’s kind of insulting to people who work really hard and want something a tremendous amount, but still don’t become CEO of Google or whatever. As if they just didn’t “want it” bad enough. If only you wanted it more, you’d be there. THERE ARE OTHER FACTORS.

    Anyway, the Sandberg still seems like something worth reading if only so I can intelligently participate in the conversation around it. Would you agree? Or is it a skip?

    • 2. Kate  |  March 18, 2015 at 11:56 am

      There ARE other factors! The American Dream is dead, people.

      It was such a quick read that I powered through it. Mostly because I didn’t want to insult the person who gave me the book. It’s worth a read, I think, but take it with a buttload of salt.

      • 3. Corey  |  March 19, 2015 at 3:19 pm

        Hmm, I smell a Library Loot opportunity! : )

        • 4. Kate  |  March 20, 2015 at 5:12 pm

          Totally a Book Worth Borrowing, to use one of our old terms!

  • 5. Sheryl  |  March 21, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    I agree with most of your comments on this book. But one of the things I thought was interesting was how it challenged both men AND women. And she did at least acknowledge the differences between class and family status (kids or no). So while the book doesn’t address everyone’s situation, it does offer some broad ways in which women’s advancement is everyone’s domain, which I liked.

    • 6. Kate  |  September 22, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      Sheryl, that is an excellent point! Sandberg definitely deserves credit for making it clear that it benefits everyone when women succeed, and that men need to understand that.

      Also…now I feel anti-feminist for criticizing this book. Hmmm.

      • 7. Sheryl  |  September 22, 2015 at 1:46 pm

        “Hmm” all you want, but there’s no reason to feel badly. Looking at something critically can hardly be a reason to feel anti-feminist. I imagine readers of Literary Transgressions are smart enough not to consider a thoughtful review anti-feminist just because you didn’t love a feminist-themed book.

        Looking forward to future posts!

  • […] Drag / Biggest Disappointment Kate: Lean In. Sorry, Sheryl. To be fair, Villette by Charlotte Bronte was also sort of a drag, though it was […]


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