Recent Releases: Women + Work + Home

Tired of being the “shefault” parent? Check out these books for insight (and instruction!) on balancing the competing challenges of work and home.

 
 

In an era of seemingly unprecedented feminist activism, enlightenment, and change, data shows that one area of gender inequality stubbornly persists: the disproportionate amount of parental work that falls to women, no matter their background, class, or professional status. All the Rage investigates the cause of this pervasive inequity to answer why, in households where both parents work full-time and agree that tasks should be equally shared, mothers’ household management, mental labor, and childcare contributions still outweigh fathers’. 

Darcy Lockman drills deep to find answers, exploring how the feminist promise of true domestic partnership almost never, in fact, comes to pass. Starting with her own marriage as a ground zero case study, she moves outward, chronicling the experiences of a diverse cross-section of women raising children with men; visiting new mothers’ groups and pioneering co-parenting specialists; and interviewing experts across academic fields, from gender studies professors and anthropologists to neuroscientists and primatologists. Lockman identifies three tenets that have upheld the cultural gender division of labor and peels back the ways in which both men and women unintentionally perpetuate old norms.

 
 

It started with the Sh*t I Do List. Tired of being the "shefault" parent responsible for all aspects of her busy household, Eve Rodsky counted up all the unpaid, invisible work she was doing for her family -- and then sent that list to her husband, asking for things to change. His response was... underwhelming. Rodsky realized that simply identifying the issue of unequal labor on the home front wasn't enough: She needed a solution to this universal problem. Her sanity, identity, career, and marriage depended on it.

The result is Fair Play: a time- and anxiety-saving system that offers couples a completely new way to divvy up domestic responsibilities. Rodsky interviewed more than five hundred men and women from all walks of life to figure out what the invisible work in a family actually entails and how to get it all done efficiently. With four easy-to-follow rules, 100 household tasks, and a figurative card game you play with your partner, Fair Play helps you prioritize what's important to your family and who should take the lead on every chore from laundry to homework to dinner.

"Winning" this game means rebalancing your home life, reigniting your relationship with your significant other, and reclaiming the time to develop the skills and passions that keep you interested and interesting.

 
 

When Megan Stack was living in Beijing, she left her prestigious job as a foreign correspondent to have her first child and work from home writing a book. She quickly realized that caring for a baby and keeping up with the housework while her husband went to the office each day was consuming the time she needed to write. This dilemma was resolved in the manner of many upper-class families and large corporations: she availed herself of cheap Chinese labor. The housekeeper Stack hired was a migrant from the countryside, a mother who had left her daughter in a precarious situation to earn desperately needed cash in the capital. As Stack's family grew and her husband's job took them to Dehli, a series of Chinese and Indian women cooked, cleaned, and babysat in her home. Stack grew increasingly aware of the brutal realities of their lives: domestic abuse, alcoholism, unplanned pregnancies. Hiring poor women had given her the ability to work while raising her children, but what ethical compromise had she made? Determined to confront the truth, Stack traveled to her employees' homes, met their parents and children, and turned a journalistic eye on the tradeoffs they'd been forced to make as working mothers seeking upward mobilityand on the cost to the children who were left behind.

Women's Work is an unforgettable story of four women as well as an electrifying meditation on the evasions of marriage, motherhood, feminism, and privilege.

 
 

Some women feel that motherhood is a calling and their purpose on earth. They somehow manage to make pregnancy look effortless, bring out the beauty in a screaming child, and keep the back seat of their cars as spotless as their kitchens. And then there’s women like Liz Astrof. Who originally had children because “everyone else was.”

In this blunt and side-splittingly funny book of essays, Liz Astrof embraces the realities of motherhood (and womanhood) that no one ever talks about: like needing to hide from your kids in your closet, your car, or a yoga class on the other side of town, letting them eat candy for dinner because you just can't deal, to the sheer terror of failing them or at the very least losing them in a mall. And sometimes, many times, wondering if the whole parenting thing wasn’t for you. In vivid and relatable prose, she discusses her love for her career, how she’s managed to overcome some of her own dysfunctional childhood, and the ups and downs of raising the little demons she calls her own…from the office.

Soul-baring, entertaining, and insightful, Don't Wait Up is an abashedly honest look at parenting and relationships for moms who realize that motherhood doesn’t have to be your entire life—just an amazing part of it—that you would definitely most likely do all over again.

 
 

Working Daughter is a revelatory look at who’s caring for our aging population and how these unpaid family caregivers are trying to manage caring for their parents, raising their children, maintaining relationships, and pursuing their careers. It follows the author, who was enjoying a fast-paced career in marketing and raising two children when both of her parents were diagnosed with terminal illnesses on the same day. In the challenges she faced and the choices she made, readers will learn how they can navigate their own caregiving experiences and prepare for when they are inevitably called on to care for their parents.

Gina Warner