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 #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 #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.
Book Review #19 – The Marriage Plot (Jeffrey Eugenides)
Jeffrey Eugenides has published three books: The Virgin Suicides (adapted into a movie directed by Sofia Coppola), Middlesex (a Pulitzer Prize winner), and The Marriage Plot. I have read all three. The Virgin Suicides, which I read in my teens, I thought terrible and completely unrelateable. Middlesex, I found completely moving and phenomenal, and the Marriage Plot. What do I think about the Marriage Plot? It is a book I have seen – at the library, at the bookstore – many times, picked it up, read the back cover, and placed it back down. I do honestly believe it’s not worth reading. The characters are flat, the plot is absurd and slow-moving — there is just a completely vapid nothingness. It almost reminded me of Revolutionary Road in terms of how much of a novel you can craft around unlikable flat characters who can’t seem to learn how to be better people.
Book Review #17 – Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
I hesitated over whether to review this book. I wasn’t sure if it was a book. It’s an adapted email from a friend classified by Wikipedia as “an epistolary form manifesto” whatever that needs. It is 15 suggestions on how to raise a daughter with feminist values. It’s a book meant to engaged deeply with but having no children and no book club, I struggled to do so. I wished I could convene a women’s group and meet each week to discuss one of the lessons.
Book Review #16 – Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism (Fumio Sasaki)
This is a dumb book. Basically a list of how/why you should become a minimalist which is fine but examples include a globetrotter who doesn’t seem to carry any clothes in his backpack (I am so confused by how this works. What underwear does he wear while his other pair is drying…?) and the author, himself, who uses the same dish cloth to dry his hands, wash his body and…dry his dishes. Yeesh.