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Life's Work Hardcover – April 9, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (April 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743225414
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743225410
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,737,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Working moms are going to love Life's Work. A collection of columns from The New York Times, this entertaining and thoughtful compilation suggests that the next time you are overwhelmed with laptop, cell phone, deadlines, appointments, pets, and kids, you try something new: shrugging. As author Lisa Belkin says in the introduction, "I am not saying that none of these things matter. They all matter, but not all of the time."

Her columns make great reading for waiting rooms or bus commutes, as each one is just a few pages long. Divided by topic rather than chronological age, you'll start off with a look at balancing work and marriage, progress to pregnancy and babies, and end with sections on travel, organization, and a reexamination of shifting priorities. Topics are sometimes funny, such as Belkin's ramblings on her professional name (Belkin) and family name (Gelb), and the confusion this causes when her son's school called and asked for a name not in the company's list. But singing "the Barney song" from an airport pay phone and having the women around her weep--stories like this ring so familiar with working moms that it's hard to not get a little teary yourself.

From paternity leave to expectations of babysitters, commuting time to sharing a home computer with an 11-year-old, Belkin manages to address all the daily trivia that take on such importance, as well as the really important stuff that often gets lost in the shuffle. --Jill Lightner

From Publishers Weekly

Belkin, the New York Times's "Life's Work" columnist, has gathered some previously published pieces with some new material for a lighthearted look at many career moms' reality: juggling career, kids and personal needs. No one can give 100% to each, Belkin reassures, so "let's start by forgiving ourselves when we can't do it." To get readers in the mood, Belkin shares her own worst moments: potty training her son while on the phone with "Very Important Sources," having to finish work on some galleys at gasp! the pediatrician's office and her son's tantrums at discovering his work-at-home mom wasn't available for play. Tears at work, morning sickness, breast pumping, laptop addiction, work addiction Belkin at least mentions all the usual career-mom issues. But since the entries are only a few pages long, treatment can be disappointingly superficial: when stressed at work, eat a chocolate; consider buying a second computer for kids to channel them away from Mom's. Hidden in all the feel-better solidarity are some valuable nuggets. Describing the importance of the nanny/babysitter's happiness to her own mental health, Belkin identifies a feeling many women share, but rarely discuss. Also on target is her observation that her mother's generation "did it all," but serially first the family, then the career. Despite its old-hat thesis, Belkin's book will serve as a pick-me-up to some career mothers in need of sympathy.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I was very disappointed in this book, which received a rave review in The New Yorker magazine. I can only presume that Lisa Belkin is in with the "in" crowd, since this book is far from profound. Perhaps it is because Belkin writes about the lifestyles of the chronically ambitious elite Westchester County crowd, that she is receiving accolades from those with similar lifestyles. As someone whose own life and work (professional) has been transformed by the adoption of two special needs youngsters, I was hoping to see something of the transformative power of parenting reflected on these pages. In fact, the reader learns little about the author's children and her own struggles in trying to raise them; instead, we learn about her dilemmas as to whether or not to bring a laptop on vacation and the pros and cons of various babysitters. On the positive side, I am happy to see a professional woman write positively about the joys of working. Still, I would expect a book with the title "Life's Work: Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom" to reflect more profoundly on the experience of motherhood.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I saw the author on the Today Show and I'm so glad I did. What a delightful book! Belkin understands what it really means to be a modern parent: How you feel tugged in all directions and sure that you are screwing it all up. I loved her message -- that you should do the best you can and it will turn out okay. And I also loved the way she wrote about that. I laughed a lot, and cried a little, and I nodded in recognition all the way through. I'm also the mother of two young children and most of all I was grateful for the short, snappy chapters, which is all I have time to read in my life. I'm getting this for my mother, and my sister and even my mother-in-law for mother's day.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Hartzfeld on September 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I read this book after it was the closing feature on Oprah and thought I would give it a try. I am a working woman, married, no children, and I thought this book might be too much about getting the balance as a parent. I was pleasantly surprised that much of what was written applies to ANYONE who is working, especially working women. And her message - that 100% balance is impossible and you need to figure out what works for you - is an important one. The stories were funny, short (which is her concession to people with no time) and relevant. I would recommned this as a good, quick read to anyone who is trying to figure out how to "make it work".
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Lisa Belkin portrays herself as a loving and caring mom who loves her kids and her job. She discribes how you can't have it all but she seems to think that family comes before work and I agree.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
How nice that Lisa Belkin, married to a wealthy doctor, can "decide" whether or not to work. I wonder what she would be writing if she HAD to get up every day, drop the kids off at daycare, rush to the office to get in before her boss drops by her office, then do the mad dash all over again at the end of the day before the daycare closes. She can talk about taking "breaks" from work and people going to Bali, but clearly her reason to work has nothing to do with having to pay a mortgage. Read this only if you can identify with affluent couples where the wife's paycheck is just "mad money."
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover on August 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you already know Lisa Belkin's column, this book is for you. As a compilation book of previous columns, it's a quick romp through balancing work and life and, at times, parenthood. However, after ten or so essays, you feel stuck in the 850-word column world and are left wanting more. I would have loved her to expand each "story" for the book form and add more meat to it.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have loved Lisa Belkin's columns in the New York Times, and it was wonderful to read them threaded together, with new work, in this book. At times funny, at times heartbreakingly poignant, no one better explains the stresses and rewards of attempting to have a career and a family.
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Rachael on May 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I received a copy of this book to review for my website. And the book changed my life.
When I first picked up the book Life's Work I put it down, deeming it not appropriate for BlueSuitMom's working mother audience. How wrong I was. Initially in the introduction I was put off by this sentence "Not a one of us seems to be able to give 100 percent of themselves to their job and 100 percent of themselves to their family and 100 percent of themselves to taking care of themselves." I read the line and decided she was wrong ... there are so many of us that can and do have it all. However, I didn't get the point ... the point she was making is that inevitably there are times when our balancing act glitches. When sometimes "life and work collide."
Had I finished reading the introduction I would have read that the point is that we can work, have a family and take care of ourselves but sometimes they all can't happen at the same moment in time. Sometimes one has to come first. Sometimes there are dare I say "sacrifices."
However, when I finally picked it up again I read that "No one can do it, because it cannot be done ... So let's start forgiving ourselves when we can't do it ... So what if the house isn't as clean as it should be? So what if that last business report was not the best you've ever written? So what if you're eating takeout for the second night in a row, or haven't been to the gym in weeks, or sent your children to school in crumpled shirts on school picture day? ... I'm not saying that none of these things matter. They all matter, but not all the time ... even I know that 100 percent plus 100 percent plus 100 percent equals more than any one person can do in a day. So what?"
This might have been the most powerful message I've read in a book -- ever.
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