Book Review: You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

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I’ve been a fan of author Curtis Sittenfeld ever since I read her debut novel Prep several years ago.  Since then Sittenfeld has written several critically acclaimed books. Now she’s back with her latest release, a collection of short storie, called You Think It,  I’ll say It.

In You Think It, I’ll Say It, Sittenfeld chronicles the lives of men and women in our modern day, both the mundane and the complex.

In the opening story, a man and a woman (married to other people) play a game called You Think It, I’ll Say It. It is their way of coping with their less than ideal relationship issues and marriages that have known better days. Little do they realize their little game just might lead to dire consequences.

In Gender Studies, Henry elopes with his student Bridget. Left behind is Henry’s longtime former girlfriend Nell. At first, Henry thinks he has done the right thing leaving Nell, for he has enough with her smugness. But has he found the ideal woman in a less “affected” woman like Bridget? Or is he just with her because of her youth, and what he believes is her less than formed identity?

In Bad Latch, a new mother struggles with breastfeeding and the judgmental attitude of mothers. Is she less than a mother because breastfeeding isn’t this magical bonding moment and she might have to turn to (oh horror), formula? In Bad Latch, a “Breast is Best” activist character is a hilarious highlight.

In Off The Record, entertainment reporter, Bridget copes with new motherhood while on a business trip to interview an up and coming actress. The actress reveals a juicy tidbit asking Bridget not to put it in the article. But finding this actress a bit of an obnoxious twit, Bridget wonders if she should put in this detail in the article out of spite. Should she she? Hmm, maybe she should.

And clearly The Prairie Wife is based on The Pioneer Wife (and other lifestyle bloggers) and a total hoot in all its snarky bitchiness.

Pretty much all of You Think It, I’ll Say It is a tremendous collection, written in Sittenfeld’s sharp voice that makes her such a singular voice her generation. I highly recommend it.

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Book Review: Book Review: First Hired, Last Fired- How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market by Anita Agers-Brooks

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In this age of unemployment and underemployment, employees fully engaged in the work place and those seeing new career opportunities are facing countless challenges. They fear losing their jobs or that big promotion. They are dealing with stagnant wages and raises that don’t come through. Sometimes they deal with less than ideal managers, co-workers, subordinates and clients. And we can’t forget dealing the global market.

And then there are the insurmountable odds of finding new employment with obstacles that didn’t seem to exist just a decade ago.

So it is no wonder, people are turning to books to develop the skills to make them stand out and shine as a true asset in the workplace. One book is Anita Agers-Brooks book First Hired, Last Fired- How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market.

In First Hired, Last Fired Agers-Brooks, uses passages from the Bible inspire and help employees of all kinds to make them completely invaluable in the workplace and thrive and grow whether they are the boss or a subordinate.

Now, a lot of advice in this book is just plain common sense (or at least should be) to a majority of people no matter their religious leanings. Agers-Brooks is a conservative Christian and I’m a liberal who was raised Roman Catholic but now a church-going Unitarian Universalist. But I definitely agree with the author we should have such characteristics like a strong work ethic, integrity, a mostly positive attitude and sense of reliability and responsibility. I also appreciate what I call the 4 Cs-Compassion, Creativity, Curiosity, and Common Sense.

First Hired, Last Fired is laid out in several chapters with characters as both employees and managers dealing with not only work challenges but also facing challenges at home. In one part, Agers-Brooks shows these characters in less than ideal lot. In the second part, Agers-Brooks shows these characters in more positive way using passages from the Bible on how to make their work and personal lives better, therefore, making them also irreplaceable in the workplace of their choice.

As I read this book I found the stories rather fantastical and Agers-Brooks writing style verges a bit over the top. She really loads on the purple prose. She tries a bit too hard to fit various people from the Bible to fit her characters’ situations. For the most part, it’s all about God being the sole way of making things work out to sheer perfection in any and all workplace situations. It was as if God (especially from the conservative Christian viewpoint) is a fairy Godfather who will grant everyone’s wish, not bringing in the challenges we face in that have nothing to do with the real world of sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, and all kinds of bigotry, not to mention a corporate culture where selfishness and greed are considered virtues, not vices.

I hate to come across like a hater. I truly believe Agers-Brooks means well. Furthermore, she’s been an employee and as someone who has her own business, she’s spent time dealing with challenges as a boss and leader. She does know her stuff. I’ve been an employee, but I’ve also acted as a manager and a leader, and at times I’ve often looked to my faith to guide me in certain work situations. But I also know some things can’t worked out using religious teachings whether one is using the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, or other faith-based ideas.

Now, without a doubt, I’m probably not the ideal audience for First Hired, Last Hired considering my more liberal and progressive leanings. But to those who share Agers-Brooks more religious and right winged POV, First Hired, Last Fired might make for ideal reading.