Book Reviews, part 1

Right now, I have a list of eight books I've read since being pregnant, about being pregnant or giving birth. Rather than split it up into 8 posts, and create a bit of book-review overload, or scrunch all the reviews into one really long post and do none of the books justice, I'm going to split the reviews into 3 or 4 posts. In the comments, let me know what else I should be reading!

These first couple books don't really fit with the rest, so I'm lumping them together as the odd-books-out. They are both relatively recently published. (The reviews contain affiliate links)

There's a funny story behind this book.

After we found out we were expecting, we told pretty much no one for about 5 weeks- family included. Only a couple people even knew we were trying for a baby. One of these people was my sister, and she was (and is!) very excited to be an aunt. On one occasion when we saw her, when our secret was between just Josh and I, she said she had a gift for me. It was this book- Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy. I had to accept it graciously, without spilling the beans or dropping hints! I think I managed well enough- and we shared the irony of the timing of her gift with her just a few weeks later.

This is a short book, and a quick read. The many, many chapters are just a few pages each. The former Baywatch star describes various uncomfortable pregnancy and birth realities with lightheartedness and humor as she tries to disclose what you may not have been told beforehand about this stage of life. She talks about changes to hair and nails, how to get rid of blackheads, the pains of carrying the belly, and even some postpartum secrets. I can see why this book makes a fun gift. Thanks, sis!

My most recent read has been Born To Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture by Julie Schor. Unlike the conversational, lighthearted tone of the above book, this book is heavy with pages and pages of research and statistics. Schor tackles the reality of marketing to children, and what is being marketed to them. She exposes not only marketing on television and in magazines- the 'obvious' advertisements- but marketing done in schools and through peer networks, and the way advertising to children has become more sophisticated and subtle over the last decades. She also details the effect of advertising and consumerism and Stuff on the psychology and behavior of children. The book opened my eyes to ways that children- and adults- are exposed to advertisements in ways I had never thought of before.

Pizza Hut Book-it Program? Box Tops for Education? Band-aids with characters on them? Coupons? Free samples? All ads. Some are more blatantly obvious than others, but these are all ways companies build brand and product loyalty. While shopping for baby & kids' stuff, I'm realizing how hard it can be to find un-branded things- clothes or bedding or toys without a character from a TV show or movie on them. Based on my observation of the kids I know, all this advertising is working- but I like to think I combat it just a little bit, by realizing it is out there.


Shady Dealin's said...

I haven't read either book but the second one hit close to home. I'm sure there's a lot of marketing that gets by my wife and I but we work pretty hard to keep it out. It's difficult. As your finding, it really is difficult to find non-merchandised things. No matter what you do in your own home, they'll pick something up at a friend's house. Or someone will give them a branded item. You do what you can.

So far, it's worked reasonably well. I think the only logo our kids recognize is the "Jeep" emblem and I'm not _entirely_ against that...at least it's something cool.

James Kubecki said...

So, you're saying ads are bad...

Joanna said...

Brett- I wish I still had the book (it's back at the library now)- there was a crazy statistic about how many brands a child entering school can recognize.

James- I'm saying, being aware of the fact we're ALWAYS being marketed to is important. Because I'm not sure advertising is avoidable entirely- being aware of the fact that it surrounds us is better than just absorbing it all without thinking about it.

Ashley said...

I have made an effort to avoid characters on clothing, etc. - like Disney princesses, Tinkerbell, and Dora the Explorer. So far, we've managed pretty well - no one has given us anything like that I don't think. I have gotten a few things with Classic Pooh on them, but I don't mind because I love those books.


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