Friday, March 10, 2017

Review: Lillian Gilbreth: Redefining Domesticity

Lillian Gilbreth: Redefining Domesticity Lillian Gilbreth: Redefining Domesticity by Julie Des Jardins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is an intimate and engaging insight into one of the most prominent 20th century female engineers. It covers everything that a young woman would want to know about a role model: how she dealt with conflicting desires for the future, how she managed the work-life balance, how she created a place of her own in the field, what ideals she worked towards, how she managed under the societal expectations of her time, and what lasting influence she imparted.

The author did a great job of making her early life relatable to modern, young women. She showed how insecure Lillian was of her future, as well as both her desire to follow and grow beyond the conventional ideals of femininity. Her meeting and subsequent life with Frank Gilbreth demonstrates just how important a supportive husband is for women like her. He gave her opportunities and encouragement to pursue a career outside the home. Also, the ways that the couple ran their household is incredible, although excessively concerned with efficiency at times. However, the book also honestly admit some downsides to the Gilbreth household: the hectic pace around over-packed schedules, the children feeling some lost of individuality, and often-absent parents. Still, I do find it admirable that Lillian does address these issues and bring in the human aspect into household management. In addition, it's admirable that Frank respects his wife's contributions.

Together, their ideas about efficiency impacted so many different fields. The author emphasizes how their work helped make productivity improvements in industry a lot more humane. Lillian, especially, contributed many ideas that have lead managers to focus more on raising worker satisfaction and decrease their fatigue. This book really makes you appreciate how much her unique perspectives altered her field, and how necessary it is to have minds like hers in the public realm.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Review: Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science's First Family

Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science's First Family Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science's First Family by Shelley Emling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book to gain another role model, but I finished the book with four new ones. Those new role models are Irene Curie, her husband Frederic Joliot, Eve Curie, and of course Marie Curie. In school, I learned that she was a dedicated and brilliant scientist who won a Nobel Prize. But this book made me realize that she was also a mother who nurtured her daughters' potential for success depite being a sickly widow. She was the ambitious founder of two radium institutions. And she was a patriot who invented X-ray to diagnose injured soldiers during World War II.

Her daughters and their spouses were also as incredible, and I'm glad this biography included their lives. It portrayed their lives in intimate detail, and you see the familial bonds that held them together, the courage they showed during the World Wars, and the humanitarian sentiments that have driven them to improve the world.

This book is a must read for any ambitious young woman, especially if she plans to be a mother. The relationship between Marie and Pierre, as well as Irene and Frederic are good models of a relationship that's supportive of ambitious women. In addition, Marie's attitudes towards child-rearing do show how a mother can both work and be supportive of her children.

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Review: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a really quick read, i finished it within 2 days. It has a very amusing sort of humor that revels in ironies and absurdities. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Dilbert comics or Dr. Who. Adams does a really great job of making just about every gesture and phase into a joke. I don't usually enjoy sci-fi books that aren't serious about the science part, but this was a nice change from my usual reading. I will definitely read the sequels.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Review: Six Pillars of Self-Esteem

Six Pillars of Self-Esteem Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the book to read to get a foundational understanding self-esteem. It doesn't neatly fit into the categories self-help, psychology, or philosophy. However, it provides a lot of key insights into what self-esteem is based on. To Branden, self-esteem is grounded in one's awareness of themselves. Healthy self-esteem is an accomplishment that can't be won by self-delusion or affirmations. In the vignettes, he demonstrates many of the common mistakes people still make that diminish self-esteem. Overall, his explaination of self-esteem is very practical. I've also benefited from the sentence completion exercises he proposes.

His writing really shows how intimately well he knows the human psyche. Especially when he describes the negative inner voices, I saw a lot of myself in the book and how my mindeset harmed me in the past. He's very good at holding a mirror before our biggest irrationalities and arguing them into insignificance.

It's such a shame that the American culture did not adopt Branden's perspective on self-esteem. In the American public school systems, I never learned that self-esteem came from self-respect. Meaning that in order to feel good about myself, I would have set standards for myself and assert that I'm capable of living up to them. This is advice desperately needed in schools, especially where students are killing themselves (some literally) over social media posts.

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