Playing Catch-Up




Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

I am having a slow day at work and I am way overdue for an update.  Since I am on track with The List I allowed myself a break from The List during the last two weeks while my husband and I were on an amazing vacation in California.  I tried to take pictures but I felt like they didn’t do anything justice and didn’t really show what I was seeing.  We left the morning after the Chicago Cubs (my hometown team) won the World Series and it was like I never came down off the high UNTIL we had to get back on a plane and head back to New Orleans and back to the grindstone.  And back to the grindstone it was on my first day returning to work.

But I digress…back to the books.

Jane Eyre is a re-read, both for pleasure in high school and as part of one of my literature courses in college.  At this point I can’t remember much of what they said about it in college except that they talked about how Jane and Mr. Rochester are in a position more as equals at the end and better suited to have a relationship.  Or something like that.  For those of you who haven’t read the novel, I won’t talk too much about the plot and spoil it.

One thing that did strike me on this re-reading is Jane’s struggle to both achieve independence and make connections with other people.  I suppose this reflects the human condition and it is a struggle in most of our lives to find a balance.  I can relate to Jane’s childhood wherein she was abused by a narcissistic family and was denied the small pleasures she craved and the right to her own thoughts and feelings.  Throughout the novel, Jane is very much trying to find her place in the world despite feeling insecure that she is entitled to do so.

I had the annotated copy from my college study with several critical essays at the end, but I disregarded the critical essays on this re-reading since as far as I am concerned the assignment from The List was to read the novel, not the critical essays.

As far as Lean In, Sandberg’s perspective is interesting, and one I think Betty Friedan would agree with, but one that I do not necessarily agree with.  From her own experience, Sandberg writes about rising to the challenge of being a working mother and balancing her career with her family.  However, it seems like Sandberg thinks that her way is the best way and that all women would be happier if they did as she did.  Although she backs it up with facts and figures from studies, I find it hard to believe that it is necessarily true that every woman would be happiest placing equal focus on their families and their careers.  Some women are happier as stay-at-home mothers.  Other women are happier without children (in my case, my choice not to have children relates more to biological circumstances and a desire to focus on myself and my passions, rather than anything to do with my career).  And most of us do not have the opportunity to rise to the executive level at a large company like she did.  Still, Sandberg does have some insightful things to say about gender equality and how women and men are perceived differently in the workforce and how women must take a different approach than men in order to “climb to corporate ladder,” particularly as far as being assertive and taking credit for one’s accomplishments and asking for them to recognized.

I suppose I should find something productive to do since I don’t think the law firm is paying me to write a reading blog.  Hard to believe I have less than 20 books left now!


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