Pregnancy Books Retrospective

I have not read a full book in months and months; hence, the lack of book reviews on my blog. But I did want to share books that I read, even if in pieces and not in whole, that I thought were helpful for pregnancy.

1) Mindful Birthing. I LOVED this book. It covers an adaptation of the 8-week Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) to pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenting. It was full of helpful exercises related to pain practice, meditative techniques, etc. It was the first book that made me feel relatively okay about giving birth.

2) The Birth Partner. Technically a book for “dads and doulas”, I found this helpful to read myself. It provides a really great overview of various stages of labor and what techniques may be helpful to get through each. A little more anti-epidural that I’m into, but you can get a lot of good information.

3) Headed Home with your Newborn. A very, very practical guide to early weeks with a baby. I especially liked that the recommendations were not just grounded in science, but what’s actually feasible. For example, they take the line that you don’t have to bathe your baby that much before they start crawling because they aren’t getting that dirty.

4) Expecting better. A data-driven book, it has very concrete statistics re miscarriage rates, whether sushi and drinking are actually bad for you during pregnancy, and pros/cons of various birth interventions.

I tried to read many, many other books and I found them to be almost universally fear-mongering, not grounded in science, or just totally insane. So thought I would share the few that stood out as helpful resources 🙂

Book Review: Maisie Dobbs

Book Review #27: Maisie Dobbs (Jacqueline Winspear. )

**

I heard great things about this book — it focused on an independent woman during an era where many were not, was full of mystery and intrigue, and had nice historical ties and references. Honestly, I thought it was awful. The characters felt very flat and uncompelling — each like a stereotype of the type of character the author wanted to include in the book. The ‘mystery’ and related plot felt very forced. I just got nothing out of it…well I won’t say nothing. I do think the name Jacqueline Winspear would be an excellent pseudonym.

p.s. I have been reading more than my book reviews would suggest, but mostly about pregnancy and postpartum. I’m planning a big review of pregnancy books I actually found helpful soon!

Book Review: The Pillars of the Earth

Book Review #26: The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follet)

***

I got this from the library essentially because it was very long and I wanted something without a screen to help me occupy lazy evenings. It started off really riveting, and soon diverged into something best described as Game of Thrones, without the dragons or magic. A sort of story that uses lazy and misogynistic plot devises, lacks true character development and, therefore, any true investment in the story itself.

Book Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

Book Review #25: A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)

*****

An amazing book. Really the type of book you want to devour while drinking coffee on the Orient Express, but equally absorbing during the dog days of summer. Cozy, creative, feel-good, it takes a light view on Russian history from the Communist revolution to the 1970s or so as seen by a Count sentenced to house arrest within the premier hotel of Moscow. It’s such a creative premise for a book and while you would think the plot would become stilted due to the lack of movement, it absolutely does not. A++

Book Review: The Year of the Runaways

Book Review #24: The Year of the Runaways (Sunjeev Sahota)

***

Ooof. A real heavy book. Hard to read almost entirely throughout. I know that’s purposeful – to make the reader feel the same lack of hope and constant struggle that the immigrants in the story are experiencing but wow. As someone who generally has a favorable attitude towards immigrants – both documented and undocumented – it made me despair.

Book Review: The Great Alone

Book Review #23: The Great Alone: A Novel (Kristin Hannah)

**

This book started off strong with a great plot — a teenage girl, her abused mother, and her violent, unstable father are moving to Alaska to homestead off the land. While there, they’ll have to learn how to hunt and grow all of their own food; meanwhile, the father becomes increasingly erratic as the winter lengthens. It’s basically the Shining plus homesteading. But then it meanders into an extreme soap opera including unintended pregnancy, cancer, police department confessions, brain damage, etc. Just way too much and totally unrealistic by the end.

Book Review: Pachinko

Book Review #22: Pachinko (Min Jin Lee)

***

I had really high hopes for this book given that I had read rave reviews everywhere and had to wait for it to become available at the library for several months. In the end, it was a satisfying read but I also felt let down. I found the writing and plot sometimes to be overly simplistic and not prone to giving enough depth to characters. I know part of that was out of necessity because the book had to cover an absurd amount of time, but I would have rather read an even longer novel that filled in some more details for me. I will say it was the first book I read from start to finish in quite some time.