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Picks and Pans Main: Books

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Even before Sheryl Sandberg’s manifesto for women came out, she had ignited controversy. Here, the Facebook COO, 43, tries to put out the flames

What’s the idea behind Lean In?

Women are still really far from having our share of leadership roles. I wrote this book to try to give women practical suggestions for what they can do to achieve their goals.

Such as?

Sit at the table. Don’t hold yourself back from taking a leadership position—lean in to your career and your ambition. Don’t leave before you leave—which means don’t scale back on your work or your ambitions in anticipation of having children. This is about believing that we can do anything, reach any goal we set out to reach for ourselves—both personally and professionally.

Isn’t this easy for you to say? You’ve been criticized for being privileged and elite, and for blaming women—rather than the system—for failing to get ahead.

I don’t hold myself out as a role model and I don’t believe there’s one answer for women, but I do believe that women in all circumstances face the same issues: We don’t get paid as much as men, we tend to have more responsibility at home, we don’t want to raise our voices to get what we deserve.

Still, one critic called you a “PowerPoint Pied Piper in Prada ankle boots.” Are you surprised by the negativity?

[Laughs] I thought long and hard before I spoke out for women. I had some of the same feelings others had: Who are you to give advice? But I was really worried about what I saw in the workforce, as women held themselves back.

You advise women to look for partners at home who are truly 50-50. Is that really how it works in your house?

It’s true for me and Dave [Goldberg, her husband of almost nine years and the CEO of tech firm Survey Monkey, with whom she has two children, ages 5 and 7]. But it didn’t start out that way, and it’s not easy! And it’s not 50-50 at any one moment; it ebbs and flows. Like a lot of women, I feel guilty about a lot of things. I drop my kids at school and see the mothers who are going to be there all day volunteering, and they are going to know more about what my child does than I do. I miss being with my kids and I feel bad about that. Dave drops the kids off at school and he feels fantastic that he dropped the kids off at school!



Along with her book, Sandberg (at an earlier job at the World Bank in 1991) has started a nonprofit,, to help women share life lessons and get online executive coaching.


Sandberg at home with her husband, whom she calls a “true partner.”

Mary Coin

by Marisa Silver |



Dorothea Lange’s iconic 1936 photograph Migrant Mother served as the inspiration (and also the cover image) for Silver’s provocative new novel, a fictionalized, multigenerational account of the intersection between Lange’s life and the life of her migrant farmworker subject. Silver (The God of War) writes beautifully and has meticulously researched her historical details, making for an informative, addictive book whose Depression- era narrative feels particularly relevant in today’s recessionary times.


by Lauren Drain |



Before her family joined the Westboro Baptist Church—the extreme, antigay, anti-Semitic religious group known for picketing high-profile events like the Inauguration– Lauren Drain was a normal teen who loved clothes, flirting and softball. But after moving with her parents and sister to Topeka, Kans., to be closer to the parish, everything changed. Makeup and revealing clothes were off-limits, as was talking to boys. Twice a week at lunch, she and fellow teen parishioners gathered to scream slurs at classmates. “I considered myself to be a martyr,” she writes, “as I taunted my audience with the true message from God.” After beginning a relationship with a man online, Drain was excommunicated and cruelly cut off by her family. In gripping detail, she reflects on her fall from grace, how it opened her eyes and how she’s built a new life filled with love, not hate.


by Charles Dubow |



Life’s perfect for Harry Winslow. The National Book Award winner and his stunning wife, Maddy, have a “golden aura,” a Manhattan brownstone and a cottage in the Hamptons. Then Claire, a young assistant, makes a play for Harry and he folds, surprised at “how naturally he can deceive.” Until Maddy uncovers the affair. An homage to Gatsby—right down to its Nick Carraway-ish narrator—this is a suspenseful, diverting debut.