So I was pleasantly surprised to learn how smart and accomplished Lisa Bloom actually is. She is an award-winning journalist, legal analyst, and trial attorney, a graduate of Yale Law School and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UCLA. Once I started reading I couldn’t put the book down.
The book is divided into two sections.
The first half explains the problem:
In just one generation women have made huge strides in education (girls now outperform boys in elementary, middle, and high schools; we graduate from college, professional, and graduate schools in greater numbers than males), while our brains have become devalued.
Twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America's Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize.
Twenty-three percent would rather lose their ability to read than their figures.
We spend our time watching reality TV, reading tabloids and getting the latest beauty treatments including plastic surgery. Even our news is filled with fluffy pieces; Lindsey Lohan’s latest arrest gets prime time coverage right along with the war in Afghanistan.
Americans know more about Angelina Jolie’s baby bump and her relationship with Brad Pitt than about her humanitarian work. Bloom includes four pages detailing Jolie’s charity work most of which has never been covered by the American media.
She included interesting facts such as:
The United States has a higher ratio of maternal deaths than at least forty other countries even though we spend more money per capita for maternity care than any other country. Yet 38 percent of Americans believe that our health care system is “above average” or “the best in the world.” (Pg. 36)
We imprison far more of our population than any other country in the world. We incarcerate more of our own population, in raw numbers, than China, a notoriously punitive country with more than four times our population. (Pg. 42)
According to the National Endowment for the Arts in its comprehensive 2004 study, To Read or Not to Read, one-third of high-school graduates never read another book for the rest of his life. (Pg. 48)
In the second half of the book she offers solutions:
READ - 80% of the American population didn’t read a book last year
Set aside the tabloids and read books, books that challenge you. If you can’t name three amazing books you’ve read in the past year, you’re not reading enough. Every now and then pick up a book that argues against your point of view, or a novel you wouldn't normally read. You might find your mind changes, or you might find your position more firm than it was before, but either way, you're exercising your mind.
She recommends reading the NY Times plus your hometown paper daily.
Although I wholeheartedly agree with Bloom’s message I feel she was preaching to the choir. If you currently are not a book reader, you are not going to read THIS book and suddenly give up reality TV and celebrity web-surfing in favor of book reading. That is even if you adopt her recommendation to hire someone to clean your house so you have more free time.*
If you have an interest in the dumbing-down of America or are wondering how to find more time to read you may enjoy this book. Another caveat Bloom did write this book from a liberal viewpoint if that bothers you, you probably will not enjoy this book.
*I found it amusing Mary Kay Ash also recommends hiring a cleaning person in her book Mary Kay.
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