Thursday, May 15, 2008

Maven Says: Required Reading

For seven long years I was a college residence hall director. I had an apartment in a residence hall, better known as a dorm but those of us in the profession would never utter that four letter word. One year was in co-ed suites, one year in a hall full of snooty women, and the other five years were filled with the joys of sharing space with hundreds of adolescent boys. If only Christie Mellor had written Raised by Wolves: Clues to the Mysteries of Adulthood a decade earlier, I might have bought hundreds of copies to bestow on my charges. We had fires in the oven from ill-attempted cooking, were always totally grossed out when we went through rooms during breaks at the funk growing there, and cringed at the pathetic mating rituals of drunk young people. Mellor pretty much hits the high points on cooking, cleaning and behaving in the presence of alcohol. I think that a pocket sized version of the main points in each chapter would be a fabulous addition to the goody boxes handed out to everyone who moves into a residence hall at the beginning of the year (or used to, now everything is probably done by e-mail). I might also have used it as a text when I taught an orientation course at a state university.

Now life is a little more tricky, unfortunately the people I know who could really use the book would never, in a million years, think that they were the target audience. How exactly do you let them know it would be a good read--put it down on the porch, ring the bell and hide in the bushes? I think the only time I could offer it as a gift would be to a recent college graduate heading off into the "real" world. Although I fear that having put four (or five, or six) years of heavy reading behind then and thinking of nothing but independence and making money they probably wouldn't read it. The simple and straightforward advice on things like buying a house, budgeting and taxes are things I wish I'd had when I was moving out of my extended stay in the residence halls into my own apartment for the first time when I had to buy furniture, food and pay the rent--it wasn't pretty! Another hot target audience might be parents who have adult children returned to the nest--leave a copy in the bathroom for light reading after reading it yourself and noting the good parts to drop in conversation with your kids.

With only about 330 days left of my thirties I skimmed through the chapters on cooking and entertaining. I've spent enough time in the kitchen and hosting gatherings from potlucks to sit down dinners to birthday parties for 20 5-years olds and hosting Thanksgiving dinner for in-laws to feel pretty confident in those areas. I cringed reading about cleaning up for company, my husband and I are still guilty of hiding things more than cleaning when we have company coming and time is tight. Once he even stuffed a closet full of things and used a baby gate to keep it all from tumbling out when the door was opened--I definitely love him for his ingenuity. Thankfully I am old, smart and financially secure enough to have someone else clean the things that I never get around to, although it was a long, long time getting here!

Mellor's style will win over readers who pick up her book. The quirky, entertaining prose are fun to read even when hitting a little too close to home.

Thanks to the Parent Bloggers Network for the chance to check out Mellor's (author of the Three-Martini Playdate) new book Raised by Wolves. You can head over to PBN to check out what others have said about the book and lots of other cool stuff!

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