Cathy Klein misses books. In her more footloose days, the Pleasanton mother of three gobbled D.H. Lawrence novels like candy. Now, working 35 hours a week, with two teenagers in soccer and a position as an age-group coordinator for their soccer club, she's had to adjust: "I spend my time reading on the Internet about locations for soccer fields." It's a familiar dilemma for moms in this soccer-mad city. After the uniforms have been washed, the thermoses filled, the blister pads applied, the minivan packed, the team flag planted, cheers cheered, wins celebrated, losses mourned, and postgame pizza wolfed, how do you make time to read?
You can try not sleeping. Klein stayed up all night to get through I Don't Know How She Does It (Anchor, $13.95), Allison Pearson's wryly humorous novel about a London executive struggling to balance career and family. "I found out it's just as tough for her as it is for me," Klein says.
With two boys in soccer and a three-year-old daughter at home, Marci Cassidy gets some "me" time by reading in bed. "All day long I'm constantly giving to other people," she says. "My kids want to be fed, or they need to be picked up from school. So reading is a little bit of time that I do carve out for myself."
Partly she reads to relax, she says, but also partly to learn: "In Faye Kellerman's typical modern books, the main character is an Orthodox Jew, so I've learned a lot about Jewish traditions," she says. Right now she's reading Kellerman's World War II serial-killer mystery Straight Into Darkness (Headline, $5.99). She's also in the middle of Cal Ripken Jr. and Rick Wolff's Parenting Young Athletes the Ripken Way (Gotham, $25). She likes its message for overachieving parents: "You can't make a Tiger Woods," she summarizes, "but you can foster a love of sports and a healthy lifestyle."
Medical writer Toni Derion recommends Anthony Wolf's "very witty, very reassuring" Get Out of My Life, But First Can You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $14). She says it helped her understand her own twelve-year-old: "I'm learning now how to avoid getting into power struggles with him and realizing that some of the things he says are not because I did a terrible job raising him or because he's a really bad kid; it's just adolescence."
Derion, too, reads after crawling into bed at night. Before that, her days are structured "pretty much down to the minute, because the kids have school, homework, piano, soccer. ... It's got to be choreographed."
Originally from Scotland, Elaine McEntee hadn't realized what she'd gotten herself into when she signed up her oldest boy for youth soccer in America. "I was just assuming I would turn up, my son would go to training, and I would sort of come and watch the games," she says. The amount of parental involvement required party planning, banner making, snack prep "was a big culture shock."
To keep herself reading (at night, naturally), McEntee joined a book club. She also kept up with technical journals related to her hobby, jewelry making. After a vacation to Kauai and Oahu piqued her interest in island history, she picked up Honor Killing (Penguin, $16), David Stannard's account of Clarence Darrow's last case, which erupted in 1931 after Thalia Massie, a Navy officer's aristocratic wife, claimed she had been raped by native Hawaiians. A trial followed; the jury hung; Massie's husband and mother kidnapped and murdered one of the suspects.
"I'm not the type of person that can sit and slog through a history book," McEntee says. "I get turned off. ... I'm more likely to pick some things up if I'm reading some kind of historical novel or some kind of historical biography. It's just a better way for me to absorb the facts."
Her phone rings. She has to run. Her younger son's team needs someone to help with practice. "Looks like I'm going to be roped into coaching them," she says with a laugh. Those books will have to wait until bedtime.
Culture Spy - February 19, 1:45 PM
What the Fork - February 15, 2:00 PM
Culture Spy - February 15, 10:30 AM
Culture Spy - February 12, 5:45 PM
What the Fork - February 8, 3:57 PM