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What I’m Reading This Summer

So…here we are, Summer is here and that means a little more time to read for fun. So, I’ve somehow amassed a stack of reading that will probably last me through the Summer, so instead of weekly reading, I figured I would lump it all in one. Let’s see how far I can get through this list before I jump back into school-sanctioned reading!

summer reading

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels: My Love Story – Ree Drummond
Half The Sky – Nicholas D. Kristof
Home: A Memoir of My Early Years – Julie Andrews
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – Seth Grahame-Smith
A Farewell To Arms – Ernest Hemingway
In Defense of Food – Michael Pollan
Firefly Lane – Kristin Hannah
7 – Jen Hatmaker
Walt Disney: An American Original – Bob Thomas
Bowling Alone – Robert Putnam
Katharine Graham: Personal History –  Katharine Graham

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Book Review: Girl Land

As I’m making my way through the literature on the representation of women and girls in the media, I encounter very different views, opinions, suggestions and theories on why adolescence is so difficult to understand. I’ve read about those who advocate for attachment parenting to closely monitor a young girl’s media usage, and also studied those who suggest censorship is the devil. I’m learning that you’ve got to draw your own conclusions from the bevy of information available, or you’ll go crazy trying to apply it all to your own life.

One book that skews to the more conservative side, is Girl Land by Caitlin Flanagan.

girl land

Girl Land is about, you guessed it, adolescent girls and how they are impacted by so many factors surrounding them. This book deviates from a media effects focus, and more historically covers the ins and outs of growing up as a girl, and how society’s fascination with all things sexual is silently killing their innocence.

The New York Times wrote a review of the book, calling it “hyperbolic, incoherent, sometimes smart and occasionally maddening.” Now, I think this is a bit much, and probably stems from the fact that Flanagan promotes more conservative types of values, actions and processes for raising strong, powerful girls.

But, what I found most intriguing about the book was its historical references. Each chapter is divided into different areas of “Girl Land” or the “girl anticipating her first period, nursing her first crush, brooding and withdrawing… coming to terms with her emergence as a sexual creature, with everything good and everything frightening that accompanies this transformation.” The chapters ranged from dating to diary keeping.

And the references to the growth of these activities (dating, diaries, sexuality, etc.) showed a historical and societal context I had not considered before. For example, she covers the emergence of “dating,” grown out of a rebellion against courtship and in the development of the teenage culture we know today that started in the 1920s.

There were parts that left me thinking “that’s a little harsh” and the book does draw sweeping generalizations about how a young girl should be treated. But it did make several good points about how girls will endure this time in their lives, but often emerge from the other side more vibrant and energized than when they entered. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the historical context of adolescence, but it was lacking in the implications of the media on this age group, which would have made her argument a bit stronger. Warning through: it does include some graphic descriptions of sexuality and menstruation, not usually suggested for light beach reading 🙂


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Book List

So…my Amazon Wish List is getting a little out of hand. Let’s break it down shall we?

Advertising Books (because, you know, I don’t read enough about it as a master’s student)

  • Engage!: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web
  • The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
  • Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
  • Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
  • The Art of Client Service: 58 Things Every Advertising & Marketing Professional Should Know, Revised and Updated Edition
  • Confessions of an Advertising Man
  • Ogilvy on Advertising
  • Breaking In: Over 100 Advertising Insiders Reveal How to Build a Portfolio That Will Get You Hired
  • The Copywriter’s Handbook, Third Edition: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells

Women in Media Books (because, you know, I don’t talk about feminism enough with Jason)

  • Toward a New Psychology of Women
  • Self-Objectification in Women: Causes, Consequences, and Counteractions
  • Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message that Feminism’s Work Is Done
  • The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
  • Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism (Live Girls)
  • BITCHfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine
  • Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV
  • Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media
  • Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World
  • Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write About Their Search for Self

Books About Marriage (cue Jason pleading for sanctuary here again)

  • Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands
  • Devotions for a Sacred Marriage: A Year of Weekly Devotions for Couples
  • Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War
  • Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?
Books for Fun (this list is WAY too short)
  • A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)
  • A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)
  • A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3)
  • A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)
  • A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

And a random lunch box. And all seasons of How I Met Your Mother.

Someone, please save me from this list…OR any other great book ideas I can add???


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Reviving Ophelia: A Review

“Adolescence is a border between childhood and adulthood. Like life on all borders, it’s teeming with energy and fraight with danger. Growth requires courage and hard work on the part of the individual, and it requires the protection and nurturing of the environment.” — Mary Pipher, Reviving Ophelia

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I’ve often written about women and women in the media on this blog. It’s a research interest of mine, and a personal labor of love. As a woman, I often find myself wondering “why” and questioning what makes femininity and “whole” womanhood so hard to obtain. Additionally, being a Christian woman in the media business carries its own challenges as well.

I heard about Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia many times before, but recently got the chance to read it. And wow. What a great journey.

This book recounts those tender years of adolescence. The “crashing and burning in a ‘developmental Bermuda Triangle'” as Pipher calls it, or as I like to call it….purgatory. From my own experience, you feel stuck in a body you don’t get–but are starting to like, peers are ruthless and balancing it all gets heavier and heavier each day. Pipher noticed in her psychology practice that pre-teen girls were “coming of age in a media-staruated culture preoccupied with unrealistic ideals of beauty and images of dehumanized sex.”

The book weaves a pragmatic, yet emotional tale of different girls Pipher encountered through counseling. Some good. Some not so good. And some bad. She examines different themes of sexual promiscuity, loneliness, mother/father relationships and friendships that delicately shape a pre-teen’s world. The upside-down nature of adolescence is carefully explained by Pipher and she is able to skillfully decode how a girl feels, thinks, acts and behaves.

What struck me is she doesn’t focus on the scientific changes, but the experiential, or meaning-focused, changes that make girls feel so alien. “Early adolescence is a time of physical and psychological change, self-absorption, preoccupation with peer approval and identity formation. It’s a time when girls focus inward on their own fascinating changes.”

So what this means is, I wasn’t crazy. And neither were you, and neither is your daughter, niece, sister, neighbor, etc.

When after the summer of 7th grade, and I showed up to school with new contacts (no more goggle glasses), no braces and boobs, I wasn’t crazy to realize something had changed. And when I cried sobbed uncontrollably when I was picked on about making the cheerleading squad, I wasn’t alone in the fact that being accepted by “the popular girls” was of utmost importance. And I am considered normal because I got quieter, disconnected from family and favored my own issues above anyone else. What’s lucky for me is I had a solid foundation and a loving, supportive family to carry me through.

The book does go into deeper detail about specific stories and more serious issues than my own obsession with *NSYNC, and how I can now consider that normal because it was part of my “identity formation…” right? Pipher expands on experiences with sexual assault, depression, divorce and all the waves of emotion that can befall a daughter if she has no stronghold to surround her.

I strongly recommend this book to any woman (or interested man). If not only for catharsis (or a reminder that you’re not crazy for obsessing over that one look that one cute guy gave you in 2nd period), but to better understand the daughters around you. I was lucky to have a family and a group of friends that let me breathe and provided discipline when necessary to make sure I understood they were there when I needed them. But not all girls are so lucky. And I think it is critical we are aware and able to fight for these girls. Fight for their right to grow up in a safe environment. To have space, but also security blankets.

As Pipher eloquently puts it “Utopia for teenage girls would be a place in which they are safe and free, able to grow and develop in an atmosphere of tolerance and diversity and protected by adults who have their best interest at heart.”