Showing posts with label emily oster. Show all posts
Showing posts with label emily oster. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Nonfiction November: Fiction/Nonfiction Duos!

It's week 2 of Nonfiction November!

This week's host is Leslie over at Regular Rumination, so please stop by!  Here's the prompt for the week:

For the second week of Nonfiction November, we are discussing Book Pairings. The original intention of this week’s theme was put together a fiction book and a nonfiction book that go well together. If you decide to pair two nonfiction books together, that works too! It could be two (or more!) books you’ve read, one book you’ve read and one you have not, or two books that you’ve added to your TBR and want to read that you think will complement and inform each other.

What a fun topic!  I thought it would be hard to come up with many appropriate pairings, but instead I ended up with quite the list!:

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, and The Martian by Andy Weir

I read the Roach book after The Martian, and I found myself constantly thinking about the fiction novel while I was reading about how the real-life astronauts prepare for space.  They compliment each other perfectly!

The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower, and American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

Real-life descriptions of life in the White House, vs. a fictional story about a modern day First Lady (though it is very obviously based upon Laura Bush).

Expecting Better by Emily Oster, and A Bump in the Road by Maureen Lipinski

A nonfiction book with a unique twist on pregnancy do's and don'ts, and a funny fiction novel about a woman's unexpected first pregnancy (and all the hazards that go along with it).  Pregnancy requires a sense of humor, that's for sure!

My Life by Bill Clinton, and Primary Colors by Anonymous/Joe Klein

I patted myself on the back for this one.  That's just funny, y'all.

Marley & Me by John Grogan, and The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Both of these are stories about dogs that made me cry big baby tears.  One is true and one is not.  Both are amazing!

Night by Elie Wiesel, and The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Or, substitute the Picoult novel for any heart-wrenching fictional depiction of life in the concentration camps.  Some heavy reading material here.

What are some fiction and nonfiction marriages that you'd like to put together?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2013!

It's that time of year, y'all!  All those Best Books lists are being released, and I am never one to be left out of the fun and games.  So without further ado...

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2013!

As happened last year, I had an immensely difficult time compiling this list.  It took me ages to narrow it down to just 10 books that I've read in the last year.  But I managed, and here they are (in no particular order, and with links to my original reviews):

1. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
I went into this novel with hesitation, because I hadn't done a heavy classic in a while.  I was more than pleasantly surprised.  An amazing coming-of-age tale that is going to stick with me for a long, long time.

2. Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
I am admittedly biased because I love food memoirs, and I love the Food Network this was a match made in heaven for me from the start.  Either way, it deserves a spot on this list, if only because Samuelsson's journey is so unique and inspiring.

3. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
As an avid Picoult fan, I had high expectations for this one, and was not disappointed in the least.  I've read a lot of Holocaust-based historical fiction...this is one of the better ones I can remember coming across.

4. White Dog Fell From The Sky by Eleanor Morse
Beautiful, picturesque, gorgeous, awesome-sauce writing is the #1 reason why this made it on the list.  The captivating story is a bonus.

5. Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel
If there was a book that should be on everyone's list for great character development, this is it.  Beautiful prose, and makes me feel like one of my 2014 resolutions should be to read more of Daniel's stuff.

6. Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad
This book tugged at my mommy heartstrings.  HARD.

7. Cooked by Michael Pollan
I continue to be wow'ed by the depth of Pollan's food-based research, combined with his entertaining commentary along the way.  He makes me feel smarter...and hungrier.

8. We Are Water by Wally Lamb
Another epic family drama from Lamb.  He has yet to disappoint me.

9. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The unsettling tone of this novel is still creeping me out.  The ending was awesome.  I am not quite as in awe of this one as I was of Gone Girl, but ohsoclose.

10. Expecting Better by Emily Oster
This book should be required reading for every pregnant or soon-to-be-pregnant woman out there.  How I wish I had this to counterbalance all the crazy pregnancy books I read when I was knocked up with Small Fry!  At least Tater Tot is reaping the benefits now.

That's the list for this year, readers!  And now you've got 14 more days to buy them for your friends and family before Christmas.  You can thank me later.

What made YOUR best-read list for 2013?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Review: Expecting Better by Emily Oster

Title: Expecting Better
Author: Emily Oster
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
Source: copy received from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

Pregnancy is full of rules. Pregnant women are often treated as if they were children, given long lists of items to avoid—alcohol, caffeine, sushi— without any real explanation from their doctors about why. They hear frightening and contradictory myths about everything from weight gain to sleeping on your back to bed rest from friends and  pregnancy books. Award-winning economist Emily Oster believes there is a better way. In Expecting Better, Oster shows that the information given to pregnant women is sometimes wrong and almost always oversimplified, and she debunks a host of standard recommendations on everything from drinking to fetal testing.

When Oster was expecting her first child, she felt powerless to make the right decisions for her pregnancy. How doctors think and what patients need are two very different things. So Oster drew on her own experience and went in search of the real facts about pregnancy using an economist’s tools. Economics is not just a study of finance. It’s the science of determining value and making informed decisions. To make a good decision, you need to understand the information available to you and to know what it means to you as an individual.

Take alcohol. We all know that Americans are cautious about drinking during pregnancy. Official recommendations call for abstinence. But Oster argues that the medical research doesn’t support this; the vast majority of studies show no impact from an occasional drink. The few studies that do condemn light drinking are deeply flawed, including one in which the light drinkers were also heavy cocaine users.

Expecting Better overturns standard recommendations for alcohol, caffeine, sushi, bed rest, and induction while putting in context the blanket guidelines for fetal testing, weight gain, risks of pregnancy over the age of thirty-five, and nausea, among others.

Oster offers the real-world advice one would never get at the doctor’s office. Knowing that the health of your baby is paramount, readers can know more and worry less. Having the numbers is a tremendous relief—and so is the occasional glass of wine.

This groundbreaking guidebook is as fascinating as it is practical.

My Review:

Apologies in advance for the limited potential audience for this review book, readers.  However, when I first heard about this new release from Emily Oster (mostly through countless emails/texts from my friends that said "This is YOUR pregnancy book!"), I knew I had to read it ASAP.

Pregnant ladies, throw away your copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting, because Expecting Better is...better.

When I was pregnant with Small Fry, I often found myself frustrated with the advice in traditional pregnancy books.  WTEWYE, in my opinion, is basically a user's manual for everything that can potentially go wrong in your pregnancy--and often with no true indication of how likely/unlikely that is.  Others are somewhat better (my personal favorite was Your Pregnancy Week By Week), but still included annoyingly specific pregnancy diets (does anyone actually follow those?) and week-by-week ranges for how much weight you should have gained (spoiler alert: I was always (ALWAYS) heavier than the recommended range...woo, ego boost!).

Doctor's advice can help to counter the confusing info in these books, but is often just as difficult to interpret.  I remember asking my OB if I needed to avoid hot dogs due to listeria risk during pregnancy.  Her answer: "Well, in all my time as an OB, I've only seen one woman get listeria during pregnancy, so I think you are fine to eat them."  This cleared up nothing for me.  How long has she been practicing?  (Am I her 10th patient and that one listeria case happened last week?)  Did that one patient get listeria from hot dogs, or from something else?  I ended up avoiding them completely, much to my ballpark-frank-loving dissatisfaction.

Okay, so given all that, let's talk about Expecting Better.  If you want to really know the whys for all those pregnancy rules, this is YOUR pregnancy book.  Emily Oster is an economist, and approached her pregnancy with an economist's view of the rules.  So if her doctor told her that she couldn't drink alcohol--she wanted to know why.  She went into all the medical studies surrounding the topic, gathered the findings, and helpfully compiled them here for you to read.  She does NOT rewrite the rules, or tell you what you should/shouldn't be doing during your pregnancy.  Instead, she presents you with the scientific findings for each question, and it is then up to you, as the babymaker, to use those findings to make informed decisions.

Oster covers a long list of topics here: alcohol/caffeine/smoking during pregnancy, the foods that are most likely to include a listeria risk (not what you would think), the true risks involved with sleeping on your right side/left side/back, proper amounts of exercise, pros/cons of an episiotomy, etc.

Admittedly, some parts can get a little dry (this is a compilation of scientific studies, after all), but I learned more from this book than I did from every other pregnancy guide combined.  I feel like a smarter, more informed baby-baker.  Does this mean I'm going against all of my doctor's advice because of what Oster wrote?  No.  But it does mean that I can ask smarter questions when I'm having discussions with her during appointments, and can advocate more clearly for myself in various labor situations.  For that alone, this book is worth its weight in gold.

It is true that Oster has been slaughtered a bit in the media for going against the "traditional" pregnancy advice in some areas.  For example, her research on drinking during pregnancy shows that a few drinks in moderation do not have negative effects on the fetus--definitely NOT what your doctor usually tells you.  However, as I said earlier, the thing I like about this book is that Oster is not telling you to drink.  She's putting the facts on your radar, and then it's your job to use that information to make your own decisions.  I'd like to think I'm an intelligent person, and as such, I appreciate the fact that this book empowers me to use that intelligence in my pregnancy decision-making.

I think it's safe to say that every pregnant (or hopes-to-be-pregnant) woman should read this book.  It will give you a better understanding of your pregnancy, and allow you to make better decisions for your baby--who doesn't want that?

What's your favorite pregnancy "manual"?  And if you're not interested in pregnancy or being pregnant, tell me something awesome about penguins, or something.  Haha...
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