- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (July 5, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 074329663X
- ISBN-13: 978-0743296632
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 75 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives Paperback – July 5, 2011
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“Informative and wise…Structuring her exploration of the subject around the nine months of her own (second) pregnancy, she provides a balanced, common-sense view of an emerging field of uncertain science.” –Jerome Groopman, New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Annie Murphy Paul is a magazine journalist and book author who writes about the biological and social sciences. Born in Philadelphia, she graduated from Yale University and from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. A former senior editor at Psychology Today magazine, she was awarded the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, Slate, Discover, Health, O: The Oprah Magazine, and many other publications. She is the author of Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives and The Cult of Personality: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves.
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- The overall message, what happens to the mother impacts her baby is important and should be taken to heart
- As a runner, I appreciated the connection between maternal exercise and the increase in fetal intelligence
- The author consults a wide panel of experts
- A wide variety of topics are discussed, including maternal diet, mood, exercise, overall health, as well as genetics, homosexuality, and protective instincts
- At times the text became a bit boring, especially towards the end. At times there was too much history and not enough biology
- I didn't feel like anything was concrete; obviously it's hard to be definite when dealing with an up and coming branch of science, but I felt as if there were a lot of maybes
- The way the text is set up is misleading; I thought that you would learn what was happening to the fetus at each step of the nine months (each chapter is a month), and what the mother could do to help her baby. Instead, it's the month where the author is at her own pregnancy, and just her musings and research during that month. What she discusses at month eight could have been discussed at month two.
- I don't feel like I learned that much
I don't suggest buying this book, especially not the hardback! It was interesting at times, more so the first few chapters, but I did not end with a satisfied feeling that other nonfiction books give you.
First of all, I don't know whether it was author's general style or she was forced by her editor's commercial pressure but frankly I'm really bored to death with so many personal details and the over-worked narrative structure of the book. Readers of The New Yorker may be buying this sort of story-telling and I'm not against a story told well, however there is neither a coherent nor a very well told story here. A 288 page book could easily be condensed into 100 or less pages without sacrificing any fact related to the prenatal development.
The author is free to want a boy as her second child but I'm still wondering what this has got to do with the topic of the book. Does the gender preference of mothers affect the children in any way? I would be more than happy if she cared to provide some research about this after every sentence in which she repeated how much she wanted a boy.
Another quite disappointing part was when she mentioned Caesarean section (C-section) only in a few sentences and simply said that this type of childbirth helped her mark her calendar exactly for the day her child will come. How convenient for a busy New York mother indeed! I was expecting at least some discussion against the C-section as well as elaborate arguments supporting it. But maybe I was asking for too much. (Funny thing is that when she writes about maternal leave she mentions a scientist that claims maternal leave "makes good economic sense, since C-sections cost more and require more recovery time for the mother.")
The parts where author gives priority to how very young fetuses are shaped by their mother's environment as well as shaping the mother's biology provide lots of food for thought (and in some cases, food for thought is literally meant, the author gives examples on how famines as well as ordinary food choices affect babies long after they have been born). As long as you can supress your feelings during the sections where very irrelevant personal details and political judgments are repeated you'll have the advantage of learning the contemporary landscape of prenatal development research from a popular science perspective.
When I first picked up this book, written about pregnancy by an expectant mother, I expected to put it down and want to purge my cupboards of all foods artificial, buy an air purifier, and join a gym, but the author manages to keep all preachiness and judgement out of her writing, and I simply feel informed and intrigued, eager to follow fetal origins research as the field becomes more mainstream.
We need to *know.* We deserve to *know.* Fully *know.*
What formed our ways? Our desires? Our likes and dislikes? Our Life?
Annie, we all owe you an incredible and deepest heart-felt "Thank you!" for telling it like it is, all our hidden cravings and weird desires, and why "normal" people try to ostracize those of us who don't fit their complex-shaped little boxes and filters.
Thanks, Annie Murphy Paul