Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Off the Sidelines - Kirsten Gillibrand

Off the Sidelines
Title: Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World
Author: Kirsten Gillibrand
Publication Date: 9/9/2014
Pages: 224
Genre: Memoir / Political / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I'm trying to prepare for the inevitable 2020 presidential race by reading the books of some of the likely Democratic nominees. 
Date Completed: 1/2/17

Summary: Senator Gillibrand recounts how she got into politics and what has motivated her to stay in the tumultuous world. 

What I Thought: Here is how Senator Gillibrand begins the introduction to her book:
"If I had a daughter, I would tell her certain things. I would tell her that it's great to be smart, really smart - that being smart makes you strong. I would tell her that emotions are powerful, so don't be afraid to show them. I would tell her that some people may judge you on how you look or what you wear - that's just how it is - but you should keep your focus on what you say and do. I would tell her that she may see the world differently from boys, and that difference is essential and good."
What an opener. 

I was hooked from that first paragraph, despite the fact that I started this book at 1am on January 1st. I needed something to wind down my thoughts after our NYE celebrations and, in the moment, this felt like the right book to start the new year on. In retrospect, I could not have picked a better first book of the year. A lot of book bloggers plan out the book on which they will begin the year, but I never have. Both this year and last year have been happy accidents. 

In what I hope is a good omen for my 2018 reading selections, I blazed through Gillibrand's memoir in two days. I've been aware of her for a while, but she has really caught my political eye in the past year. I'm continually impressed with her and this book reinforced that. 

I don't want to recap the Senator's life story or voting record for you. Read the book yourself for that. I will say I was struck by her obvious tenacity and desire to serve the people. She comes from privilege; there's no doubt about that. However, Senator Gillibrand and I seem to share a desire to use that privileged to help. I have so much respect for that. 

I particularly appreciated her frank perspective on being a woman in politics. She discusses the endless and annoying scrutiny that is applied to women and not men in this and other fields. She talks about juggling life as a working mom and what that means for her and her family practically. She shares how much she values the bipartisan camaraderie among women in Congress.

Senator Gillibrand also shares a good amount about her Christian faith. It's clearly an important aspect of her life. She emphasizes how impactful her years in various Bible study groups have been, quotes Scripture, and obviously has a functioning knowledge of Scripture and how it applies to her own life and calling. She's neither pushy nor reticent in her discussions of her faith; it's a nice balance, I felt. 

I came away from this book even more impressed with the Senator than I was going in. She and Cory Booker are currently at the top of my dream list for 2020 candidates. I know a lot can change in the next few years, but I would be thrilled to see such a thoughtful, tenacious, and focused woman in the White House. 

Quotes I Loved:

  • "The idea of running for office terrified me, but deep down I knew I had to."
  • "Women talk a lot these days about shattering the glass ceiling, but we also need to focus on cleaning the so-called sticky floor, making sure all women have a chance to rise."
  • "One of the main goals of the feminist movement is that all women should be able to make the best choices for themselves and their families, and no one should be belitted, degraded, or disregarded because of what she chooses to do. Women's work needs to be valued fairly, by everybody, wherever it takes place."
  • "Be kind to others and build relationships most when no one is watching, because this is when you are your most honest and genuine self." 
The first book I've completed
for my 2018 TBR Challenge!

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Yeah, quite possibly. Especially if she throws her name into the ring for the 2020 race.
If You Liked This, Try: Big Girls Don't Cry / What Happened / I Am Malala

A Reduced Review: If you've found yourself impressed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's work in recent months, I have no doubt this book will only amplify your position impressions. She is thoughtful, tenacious, and focused while also clearly dedicated to the service part of being a public servant. 

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