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: 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: 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.

Book Review: The Little Friend

Book Review #21 – The Little Friend (Donna Tartt)

*****

Wow. What a book. I can’t even think of what to say. This was a book I read, frequently, but also thought about reading when I wasn’t reading it. The only book I can compare it to is Light in August by Faulkner. There is a similarity — the gothic Southerness, the focus on race and class relations, the loss of innocence, the sense of individual people making logistically sound choices but getting caught up into a chaotic world. It’s a book about a 12-year old avenging her brother’s murder but it’s so far beyond that. Nothing much happens but also everything happens.

Donna Tartt, like Jeffery Eugenides, has written three books. Like Jeffery Eugenides, one has won the Pulitzer Prize. But unlike him, she has published each book ten years apart. Each one constructs a completely realistic and surreal world, and each one lets you go so deep into that world that it’s a struggle to let go.

Book Review: A Wizard of Earthsea

Book Review #2O – A Wizard of Earthsea (Ursula K. Le Guin)

**

I really thought I’d love this book. I have been reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s blog which is amazing. I love hearing her perspective on small moments, news events, and appreciate the value she provides as both a wonderful writer and someone older, who has an interesting perspective and view of the world. A Wizard of Earthsea is arguably her best known book. Written for children (or young adults might be more accurate), I found it really complex. Maybe it just wasn’t what I was expecting. The plot was almost hesitant, and I often found myself confused and having to go back a few pages to pick up the lost thread. I was curious about the book and how it would end, but couldn’t really get into it.