Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Book Report: "From The Hips"

Rebecca Odes & Ceridwen Morris, 2007

So, after a brief hiatus from reading pregnancy-related books (not to mention dealing with an actual pregnancy), I'm back on topic with From The Hips, which I had heard was made with our generation in mind. Unfortunately, it wasn't as helpful as I'd have liked.

Sure, the book is very pretty. It certainly gets style points over all the other books I've read for its illustrations* and its use of color and interesting design elements and what-have-you. And it definitely uses more "hip" (pardon the pun) language. However, content-wise it was a bit lacking. This is mostly due to the book's two main conceits - (i) the "fair and balanced" approach to data presentation, and (ii) the use of thought bubbles conveying anecdotal information which re-enforces the author-created content on the page.

For example, there's a section of the book wherein the authors discuss whether or not pregnant women should eat sushi. They present an argument pro and an argument contra, and basically leave it up for you to decide. Fair enough, I suppose, as every pregnancy is different, and I understand the trepidation they might have regarding litigation in this day and age. But "fair and balanced" is not very helpful. Even less helpful are the (visually arresting) thought bubbles surrounding this "debate" on the page, wherein anonymous mothers present one-sentence snippets which repeat, albeit in first-person format, the pro and contra arguments already discussed by the authors. As someone who frowns on the use of one-off anecdotal evidence, I was more than a little distracted by these quotes, and they took up about half of the book!

Nevertheless, some great information did come through. Although the first third of the book (which focused on the pregnancy) really just repeated information I had read in a more condensed format earlier, the second two-thirds of the book really expanded my knowledge regarding (i) birth, and (ii) post-birth issues. Clearly, the book isn't big enough to make me an expert, and the presentation of the information is, as stated above, not the most useful. But it, I think, is good to know about the major issues women have with giving birth, and some of the physical, emotional and practical problems that come with actually, you know, having a baby. Overall, not a book I would recommend unless I knew a pregnant person with ADD who needed all the graphic doodads to keep them interested.

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