Joni B. Cole & B.K. Rakhra, editors,
Water Cooler Diaries: Women Across America Share Their Day at Work
(Da Capo, 2008)

Co-editor Joni B. Cole was having a very bad day. Wondering what other women were experiencing at the same time gave her the idea for This Day: Diaries from American Women, for which women from all walks of life were asked to keep diaries for the same 24-hour period. A second book followed, and Water Cooler Diaries is the third book in the series.

In this case, 515 women submitted their day diaries for Tuesday, March 27, 2007. This time around, the focus was work, whether paid or not. Of the 35 full diaries included, women's occupations range from stay-at-home mom to professional blogger to medical examiner, with many surprising stops between. In addition to the full diaries, excerpts from many more are included.

These glimpses into other women's lives are extraordinary. Some of the diarists work in very nontraditional jobs, and following them through their day is simply fascinating. But one thing revealed is that no matter how disparate women's lives and occupations may be, there are often more similarities than differences.

While I recommend Water Cooler Diaries, it is not -- fascinating as it is -- the sort of book one reads from cover-to-cover in one sitting. It is, instead, best read and enjoyed in small chunks.

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review by
Laurie Thayer

2 August 2008

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