Sunday, February 20, 2011

Postpartum reading suggestions

I need some good books to read after this baby is born. I felt so good after Dio was born that I had a hard time making myself lie down and rest. But give me a good book, and I can stay in bed for hours! I need some reading suggestions--fiction, non-fiction, fluffy, serious. Anything really, as long as it's well-written, throught-provoking, and/or entertaining.

I've already ILL'd a stack of books and made my way through a few of them, but I need lots, lots more. So please send me your recommendations!


  1. Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and Native Nutrition by Ronald Schmid are two of my favorites right now. The Birth House was a quick fluffy read I enjoyed while I was pregnant.

  2. Ship of Gold in a Deep Blue Sea
    The Master and Margarita
    Blessed are the Cheesemakers

  3. have you read "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"? Amazing.

  4. I loved the historical fiction series by Diana Gabaldon. The first book is called Outlander, and they will keep you lying down from cover to cover. :-)

  5. Totally fluffy but it sucks you in, The Hunger Games Trilogy. Its actually a teen drama type book. But I got recommended it by an adult friend and then recommended it to an adult friend. None of us could put it down; it should give you at least three days of in bed relaxation.

  6. Here's some of my suggestions:

    Tana French - start with In the Woods, then read The Likeness, then read Faithful Place. She writes literary mysteries.

    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It's a trilogy, so you'll start with The Hunger Games, then read Catching Fire, then read Mockingjay. I was disappointed in Mockingjay, but the series is still worth a read. It's marketed as YA, but smart enough for adults.

  7. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

  8. Second vote for _The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down_. Also, _Water for Elephants_.

  9. Water for Elephants and Poisonwood Bible are two of my very favorite non-parenty books ever. Love them!

  10. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb is great read.

    I love to read cookbooks when I'm not in the frenzy of planning actual meals or making a grocery list. It also makes the eventual meal planning easier because I already have a bunch of recipes I'm excited to try floating around in my head. Mark Bittman's new one, The Food Matters Cook Book, along with How to Cook Everything Vegetarian are my current faves.

  11. Seconding/thirding The Help & Water for Elephants
    and suggesting
    Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusack
    Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

  12. Fourthing for The Help and Water for Elephants!

    Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
    Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Bio of a champion runner/WWII POW... incredible story)

  13. What Mothers Do Especially When It Looks Like Nothing by Naomi Stadlen
    It helps, especially on those days you are wiped out and can't figure out what you did. Ha!

    And, um, capcha comment for this has me rofl: fooked

  14. Outlander series
    The Help
    Water for Elephants
    All good choices!

  15. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. Fantasy and nicely feminist. Amazing AMAZING book! I read it a few weeks ago and was totally blown away the entire time, I cannot remember the last time a book had that effect on me. I read it in less than a week, which is totally unheard of for me these days!

  16. The Thirteenth Tale. Loved it!

  17. Looking forward to reading some of the suggestions you've gotten :)

    I second The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down as well as the Outlander series.

  18. Here's a second for Unbroken by Lauren Hillebrand. It was a great biography.
    I don't know if you like kids books, but I recently had the flu and was in bed for 3 days and re-read all the Harry Potter series except for #1 and 4. They were perfect for keeping my mind entertained while stuck in bed.

  19. Count me as another person who will be mining this list for my own benefit!

    Another vote for "Spirit Catches You", "The Book Thief", and "The Thirteenth Tale".

    I also recommend "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova. A bit of fantasy mixed with history, foreign locales, and suspense. So hard to put down!

  20. If you like fantasy type books, I've just finished reading the Fablehaven series. And right now I'm nearing the end of book three of The Inheritance Cyle series (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr). I've found them to be quite enjoyable.

  21. "the amazing adventures of kavaleir and clay"by michael chanon isn't new, but always jumps to mind when people ask for recs. I almost never reread books, and I've read thay a few times.

    Using that criteria I should recommend "the princess bride" by william goldman. I read i when i'm stuck sick in bed oir when I'm sad, probably at least once a year (a rare book when you can love the book and the movie).

    And in the vein of teen books thay are just great fun, there is a series (can't think of individual titles right now) of Kiki Strike books. Particularly great as the protagonists are all girls, but they aren't girly books at all.

  22. Anything by PG Wodehouse, the greatest (British) comic writer of the 20th century. Quick, light, "vintage," and fantastically-written, with over 90 books to choose from. I might start with Right Ho, Jeeves!

  23. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I read that one after my first baby was born :-)

  24. Seconding Wodehouse, though I like the short stories better than the novels--you can get a volume of all the Jeeves and Wooster stories via a library (I don't believe it's currently in print; it's called The World of Jeeves).

    Here's some of my favorite fiction, from fluffy to dead serious:

  25. The Birth House by Ami McKay

  26. I highly recommend Carrier by Bonnie J. Rough ( It meets all of your requirements: engaging, VERY thought-provoking, and as a bonus it is about thoughtful mothering and conceiving a healthy baby. It is a very brave memoir, and wisely written. It was new last year...creative nonfiction at its best!

  27. Plainsong by Kent Haruf

  28. Thanks for all your great suggestions--keep them coming!

    I've read a few of the books mentioned: Spirit Catches You, The Book Thief, Narnia (many, many times), Harry Potter, The Birth House, Princess Bride, Eragon & Eldest. I haven't read Michael Chabon yet but my husband loves his writing.

  29. Add my name to the recommendations for The Hunger Games trilogy and The Poisonwood Bible.

    I'll also recommend Await Your Reply. Just finished it, and it was good stuff.

  30. I just finished The Time it Never Rained by Elmer Kelton and really enjoyed it. It's not girly at all, but thought-provoking for sure. I also always recommend Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - LOVE it. My Antonia by Willa Cather is a read from my recent past that I found much more moving than I expected. All three would be great reads while recovering.

  31. I heartily second/third etc...
    the recommendation for Unbroken. It was probably the best book I've read in 10 years and I read A LOT.

    The Help was very good as was The Hunger Games Trilogy.

    You might be interested in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks...I have some minor complaints about it-mainly the way the author handled her living family. It is the story of the woman who unknowingly donated the cells that started the HeLa cell line.

    I'm about to start a book written by a Cambodian refugee from the Khmer Rouge turned US Ambassador to the UN. "Golden Bones"

    I'm also reading and enjoying immensely two books written about the Bourbons but from a rare perspective, a positive one.
    Madame Royale

  32. Host by Stephanie Myer.

    Anything by Shannon Hale.

    Classics. Recently I've read Great Expectations, Chosen, Lonesome Gods, and The Girls of the Limberlost and felt SO uplifted (overall) and GOOD. They have done wonders for my outlook and just generally caused me to think about things more deeply and consider how I can become a better person. Awesome! I'm totally sure that as I continue in my own personal "A Thomas Jefferson Education" (also a VERY good book) I will continue to feel thus!

    Even though you have TONS of suggestions, I hope you'll get into some of the classics - even if not those I mentioned just cause it'll lift you so much, I believe! ^_^ And who can't use some of that... always, right!? :)

  33. Redemption Song and When Love Calls You Better Answer. Both by Bertice Berry. Quick, easy, and entertaining reads!

  34. I second/third Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

  35. Simplicity parenting. I you haven't read it yet, you will love it!

  36. Oh yes to the Outlander series.

    And, for a non-fiction treat: The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson.

  37. Hi Rixa,

    I loved "Call the midwife" which is a true account of midwifery in the poorer areas of London in the 1950's. It really opens your eyes to how easy we have it these days, we don't need to ride bicycles to attend births and we have running water!

    Interestingly, hospitals were feared as places you go when you're sick or going to die - not where you go to have a baby. How smart they were 50 years ago!

    My Mum (a midwife) gave it to me and I really enjoyed it.


  38. I recently read The Warmth of Other Suns. It's a popular history book about the black migration out of the American south to the north and west from about 1915-1970. It was written in such an engaging manner, following the stories of three separate people from different times, places, travelling to different locations, etc. I really wanted to know what happened to them and learned a lot along the way. However, it is long, but probably the only book I've read of that length that I didn't feel should have been shortened.

    Several Georgette Heyer books. She's sometimes said to be a modern day Jane Austen. She wrote regency books in the mid-1900s. The dialogue (witty repartee!) and characterization is outstanding. And the books don't get any more risque than a kiss. Some of the best are The Nonesuch, The Foundling, A Civil Contract, Frederica, and The Unknown Ajax.

    Other long-time favorites are Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and several Christian titles like God's Smuggler and Evidence Not Seen (missionary woman in Japanese POW camp during WWII).

  39. A number of people have recommended the Outlander series. An author who credits Gabaldon for inspiration and assistance is Sara Donati, who wrote a wonderful series of novels set on the New York frontier in the late 18th and early 19th century, using as a springboard characters from The Last of the Mohicans. There are five books in the series, starting with Into the Wilderness. The first book is really all about romance, with some excellent steamy scenes; by the second book, predictably, everyone starts to have babies, and you can learn a lot about the state of midwifery at that time. Highly, highly recommended.

  40. -hunger games
    -a great and terrible beauty (this is YA lit and a trilogy and so good!)
    -water for elephants

  41. Jeanette Walls has two that are really good:
    Half Broke Horses
    Glass Castles

  42. I tend to like science writing, non-fiction, memoir type things, so these might not be up the postpartum alley if you need fluff for a distracted mommy or if you are feeling sensitive about life and death issues. But most of them are gripping tales and might provide a change from love stories or fantasy.

    If you want fantasy so addictive that it will make you forget your children's needs (and if you are okay with gore, some sex, and a story in which there are no 100% good guys), George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series is my recommendation. Read a synopsis first and decide if you want to enter that world. It's good for a distracted mother though because the chapters are short and it bounces between characters and POVs often.

    The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God, Carl Sagan

    Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, Alfred Lansing

    Proust Was a Neuroscientist, Jonah Lehrer

    Into the Wild, and/or Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer

    My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey, Jill Bolte Taylor

    What's Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life, Lise Eliot

    Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA, Maryn McKenna

  43. - The Thirteenth Tale
    - Sweetness in the Belly (a great book about Ethiopia and womanhood)
    - Three Day Road and the sequel Through Black Spruce
    - Sea of Poppies of Amitav Ghosh was also a great read during those night feedings

    I remember reading a lot of fiction in those first weeks, I did all the parenting and pregnancy reading beforehand and came back to the academic reading after the first month I think.

  44. I've been out of town, so am a bit late. But have added quite a few of the suggestions to my Goodreads - to read pile. :)

    I highly second
    Simplicity Parenting - EXCELLENT
    The Help
    13th Tale
    Outlander series (though the first book has a bit too much sex for my taste. I still enjoyed it and the other books were cleaner)

    Here are ones I didn't see -

    Cutting for Stone
    The Goose Girl - Light Easy Read
    Wet Nurse Tale - Fun read, love the topic and character.

  45. I read the Hunger Games series when I was postpartum with my son. They're light reading (reading-level/style wise) so they're easy on the brain, but very intriguing and I got all sucked in and couldn't put them down (which was perfect, since otherwise I would have had a very hard time making myself stay in the bed!)

  46. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver is my favorite book of all time. Anything by Barbara Kingsolver is excellent in my opinion... you might also like her non-fiction book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

    Best wishes!

  47. The Chronicles of Narnia, Out of the Silent Planet, CS Lewis and James Herriot "All Creatures Great and Small"...he's a great writer, very funny and interesting!

  48. Great idea! I definitely need something to keep me in bed too. I'll be checking these comments frequently.

    I second The Master and Margarita (by Mikhail Bulgakov). I was introduced to it in a Russian lit class in my senior year of high school and later wrote a research paper on it at BYU. It's full of philosophical and spiritual themes and questions. I'd lend it to you if you weren't so far away! :-)

    Now I'm wondering if our library is open today so I can get a stack of books...

  49. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller

    Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven and Hypocrite in a Poufy White Dress, Susan Jane Gilman

    What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell

    The Birth House, Ami McKay

  50. I'm almost finished with "In the Time of the Butterflies" by Julia Alvarez and I'm hooked. It's a really interesting read.

  51. Savages by Shirley Conran (it's out of print but used copies can be easily found on the net) - it's a gripping tale about the survival of a group of women

  52. Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder, by Richard Louv. Haven't finished it yet but I already feel like moving to a farm or a small town :)

  53. Hi -

    Just discovered your blog a short while ago - fantastic!

    Add my voice to the Outlander series. Also, "Soulless" by Gail Carriger is the beginning of the (so far) four book Parasol Protectorate series. It's Victorian steampunk - light, witty and funny.

    Any and all of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books are wonderful. If you haven't read any, I would suggest starting with Wyrd Sisters, Small Gods, or Hogfather.

    Good luck!

  54. The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford-- very touching story about an innocent Chinese-Japanese teenage couple in Seattle during the 1940's Japanese internment. It's beautiful and thought provoking-- a nice easy read.

    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley-- light, fluffy simple story about a pre-teenage girl who attempts to solve a murder mystery. Cute book. Entertaining.

    The Survivors Club, by Ben Sherwood-- I found this book fascinating and read it during my post-partum period. I was so inspired by the stories. I needed the distraction and appreciated their stories.

    I too love having a fresh stack of books for all of the sitting down-nursing-rocking postpartum period. It's so nice. Best wishes!

  55. I just finished "Room" in under 24 hours~Cinco De Mommy turned me onto that one. Seriously, I have 2 kids and I'm eleventy billion months pregnant and I still read it in under 24 hours!

    Also reading "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee"~a good parenting book I gleaned some really amazing stuff from. She's NOT A.P. but I managed to get lots of good stuff from her anyways.

    Finding Caribou. Non fiction, fascinating read.

    The Birth House by Ami McKay (I'd be willing to bet you've read that one, but just in case!)

    My favorite book of all time is The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, he's also written Divisidaro more recently and it was amazing.

    Best of luck! Watching with bated breath for your birth story!

  56. Yeah, um, baby brain: make that I have THREE kids and am eleventy billion months pregnant....

  57. "Strength in What Remains" by Tracy Kidder; and "Mountains beyond Mountains", if you've not read it....I completely agree with all the Barbara Kingsolver suggestions (anything she's written). "Beach Music" by Pat Conroy is another all time favorite. Enjoy your reading time!

  58. I Know This Much is True is fantastic. It's 900ish pages long but I finished it in under a week, I just could not put it down.

    The Red Tent by Anita Diamant - a fictional account of the lives of women of the Old Testament, much emphasis on womanhood. Childbearing, marriage, etc.

    'Three Cups of Tea' (read first) and 'Stones into Schools' by Greg Mortenson, both are great reads.

  59. Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue. Thought provoking, great writing, a little on the dark side.

  60. This is by far my most favorite Wally Lamb novel thus far! It's truly a riveting story with characters you get to know like family. This will forever be listed as my favorite book.


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