What I’m Reading: pregnancy edition

Between books I’ve bought and books friends have given me/loaned me I am drowning in baby related books.  Here are the ones I’ve read so far and would recommend.  What to Expect is NOT on my list for a variety or reasons.  From what I’ve read/heard it devotes way too much to the “what ifs” and rare complications of pregnancy, not something I really want to focus on.  So many better books out there these days.

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

I chose this as my main reference book and started reading right after we learned we were expecting.  Great answers to what to expect every step of the way, what changes baby is undergoing each week, and information regarding the genetic testing offered to pregnant women.  Tips for diet/exercise, what medications are safe for pregnancy, information about childbirth and infant care, etc. etc.  All the potential but rare complications of pregnancy are confined to one chapter near the end, easy to avoid so you don’t freak yourself out.

The Panic Free Pregnancy

The Panic-Free Pregnancy: An OB-GYN Separates Fact from Fiction on Food, Excercise, Travel, Pets, Coffee..

Please please please pass this book on to all the first time moms you know that are freaking out about “soft cheeses”, the occasional caffeinated beverage, and especially the ones asking questions like: “will an orgasm hurt my fetus?” and “will wearing a belly band make my belly too hot and cook my baby?”  (yes the last 2 questions are serious ones I’ve encountered recently, WTF why does pregnancy make so many lose their common sense?)

Let’s Panic About Babies!

Let's Panic about Babies!: How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant Who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain, and Finally Turn You into a Worthwhile Human Being

This book is damn funny, haven’t finished it yet but I appreciate the levity and it reminds me not to take things too seriously.

The Baby Name Wizard

The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Guide to Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby

I picked this book up at Half Price Books a long time ago, great book of baby names including how they’ve trended over time, sister and brother names that fall in the same category, and lots of great lists at the end that are really helpful once you’ve identified the “types” of names you like, such as: “last names as first names” or “nickname proof names”.

Fit Pregnancy (love reading magazines on my Nook Color!)

This magazine only comes out once every couple of months, but I’ve enjoyed the 2 issues I’ve read so far.

 

Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads

Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads

and for Tyler I picked this book up at Half Price Books and stuck it in his stocking.  He found it helpful/humorous.  I thought it was fitting as he’s an Eagle Scout.

 

read in November

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)

I really didn’t set out to read the whole series when I read Sorcerer’s Stone last month, but my interest was piqued, and I decided “just one more”.  And that turned into “one more I suppose.”  Well now I think I probably will read the whole series 😉  Although I’m not in a rush to do so.  I don’t think there’s much to say about the HP series that hasn’t been said already.  They are great, and if you haven’t read them, do so soon.  We finished watching all the movies over the long holiday weekend and now I definitely can’t wait to read the rest of the books.  (I already knew the gist of the series and the big plot events before I read any of the books/watched any of the movies due to being 10 years behind the times on this series but don’t mind being spoiled.)

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells

The Glass Castle

I love a good memoir, and this one had been on my to-read list for a couple of years.  I read it on the flight back from D.C. and Tyler had to listen to my frustrated sighs and “WTFs” for 2 and a half hours.  This book is a very interesting look into the life of a child of an alcoholic and two very “unique” parents.  Some say unique, some say neglectful.  I kind of side with the latter.  While the author clearly turned out a successful and presumably happy adult,  the shit she had to go through to get there really horrified me.   I can’t say much more without spoiling the book, but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts if you’ve read it.  I think my perspective as a social worker is a bit skewed towards the pessimistic.

Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed (Matched, #2)

Read this book on the flight to D.C.  It was awful.  Want to read a book where NOTHING HAPPENS?  This is the book for you.  Sad because the first book in the series, Matched, wasn’t terrible.  I will finish the series because I always do, but I will wait to get the book from the library.  I will not buy it for my Nook, this one was a complete waste of time and money.

read last week

I plowed through 4 more books during the last week!  I’ve been on a roll recently!  Helps that they were all quick reads, and most of my tv shows were re-runs so I had more time for reading 🙂

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

So I know I am a decade late on this one, but better late than never, right?  I needed to read a book by a British author for my book club, and this series has been on my to-read list for a long time.  I was holding out for them to be available on the Nook next year, but I saw my sister last weekend and she was kind enough to loan me the first 3 books of the series.  I was able to read this one in an afternoon, and it was much better than I was anticipating as it is really not my typical genre.  Pretty sure I will read the rest of the series, but not right away.  I’m renting the movie from the library to see how it compares!

Room by Emma Donoghue

Room

Oh lord.  This book…I thought I would like it because I’d read Jaycee Dugard’s “A Stolen Life” recently and this novel is the story of a 5 year old born and raised in a room where his mother has been held captive, like Jaycee.  They have a tv so they have some access to the outside world that way, but the child really doesn’t believe that a world exists outside the room he lives in.  So during the first third you read all about his “room” and their daily life there.  [spoilers ahead] During the second third you read about their escape and the days after, and then the last part of the book is about their transition back into the “outside world”, rebuilding relationships, going through therapy, and letting go of the “room.”  Very interesting story, but sometimes the kid’s “voice” gets very irritating.  I was puzzled how the kid had such a good vocabulary yet spoke TERRIBLY despite conversing with his mom regularly (and she spoke properly) and watching lots of tv.  Also some stuff made me squeamish: the kid’s constant chatter about his love of breastfeeding (his mom practiced extended breastfeeding for the health benefits and as a comfort measure, best as I could tell), and a lot of talk of him sucking on his mom’s dead, rotted tooth.   The eff.  Leave that stuff out and I would have enjoyed this book more, lol.

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Shine

I learned about this book a couple of weeks ago when I read about the total cluster going on with the National Book Awards.  This is a young adult novel about a girl in a poverty stricken southern town that is searching for the perpitrator of a heinous hate crime against her gay friend.  This is an excellent book.  I was drawn in by her character descriptions and the fast pacing of the story.  A couple of times I thought I had the crime figured out but she surprised me!  Parts of the story reminded me of Winter’s Bone, although this book was not quite so dark.  Definitely recommend this one.  It was nice to read a YA novel that was not all about a teen romance.

Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

I was expecting to really have to force myself to read this one, but once I started I couldn’t put it down and I finished in about 2 hours. The chapters are short and the book is not terribly long.  I read the much hyped article in the WSJ that consisted of only the most eyebrow raising excerpts from this book.   That article really didn’t capture the spirit of the  book though, which is a combination of sarcasm, satire, and the highs and lows of a family. It’s not really a guide to how to raise your kids the Chinese way or why that’s the best way to raise a child.  I gave this one 4 stars.

recently read: quite the variety

I’m participating in a book challenge this fall so I’m reading a wide variety of books.  It’s been nice as it helps keep me out of a reading rut.  I’m utilizing my library more and borrowing books from friends and family to avoid buying every book I want to read for my Nook.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome

I needed a short book for the challenge and Tyler and were recently discussing this book (novella).  He hasn’t read it but is reading it now.  I was careful not to spoil it for him, we’ll see what he thinks.  I read this book in high school, American Lit I believe?  I remember writing a term paper comparing the female characters in the book.  This is a short read, would be perfect for a snowy winter day 🙂  I watched clips of the film on youtube after I re-read it, Liam Nielson and Patricia Arquette circa 1993.  It was weird to see it adapted to film.  I think I like this book because it reminds me of my great high school English classes, not because I like the story.

Prophet’s Prey by Sam Brower

Prophet's Prey: My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints

My fascination with the FLDS continues.  This book was told from a different perspective than most, a member of the LDS church that works as a PI and spent years investigating the FLDS cult.  It gives a good overview of what the group was like (and still is like to some extent) under the leadership of Warren Jeffs, now serving a life in prison sentence.  The book is a detailed telling of Jeff’s many atrocities against his followers.  Rape, sodomy, rampant child abuse, tax evasion, heartless re-assigning of wives and children and excommunicating loyal followers.  So obviously this book is a real light read 😉  This is not my favorite FLDS book.  I prefer the memoirs like Escape written from the perspective of former members of the group.  Sam Brower is eye-roll worthy at times, clearly very proud of his cowboy demeanor and the many ways he perceives that he helped bring down Jeffs.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

This book?  I could not put it down.  I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads despite the fact that I was pretty confused the entire time I was reading it, even more so after it was over.  Hoping much will be revealed n the sequel, due out next year (I hate waiting!)  I need to re-read it before then, as I zipped through it in about 3 hours, desperate to reach the end before bed.  Categorized under: “young adult paranormal” on Goodreads, it is not my typical genre (the paranormal part, obviously I like YA lit) but this isn’t a vampire story or a horror novel, it’s just spooky, and romantic, and both funny and terribly sad.  One of my favorite books this year, leaving me satisfied even though I have to wait a year to learn the rest of Mara Dyer’s story.  Also I like the cover 🙂

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Cover Image

This book is rated very highly on Goodreads and I knew it would be helpful professionally to read it.  Still Alice is the story of a woman diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, told from her perspective.  It is sad, educational, emotionally draining at times, but ultimately a very good read.  I think most people know someone or have known someone with Alzheimer’s/dementia.  I have many patients dealing with it, some in the early stages, others so deep into it they cannot speak or swallow, and a great many that are on the borderline of being competent to make their own decisions, which often calls for the help of a social worker.  I cried during a significant portion of this book, it was painful but cathartic at the same time.  It helped remind me of the life and rich history of the individual behind the diagnosis.

recent reads

I read a couple of books last weekend, both quick reads obviously.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Cover Image

I had to practice great restraint with this one and not let myself start it until the weekend began, as I knew I’d be dumb and stay up all night to finish it if I didn’t!  As good as this book was, it didn’t have me quite as engrossed as her first novel, Anna and the French Kiss.  I did not realize until I started reading that Lola is a companion novel, and some of the characters from Anna make an appearance.  They don’t really have their own plot lines but they are there and it was cool to see “where they are now.”  Even though I really have nothing in common with the main character, Lola, I still found myself crushing on Cricket, as nerdy engineering guys are totally my type!

Matched by Ally Condie

Yeah I know, another dystopian young adult love story.  This genre continues to be all the rage.  However I only gave this one 2 stars on Goodreads.  Way too many aspects of the story are ripped right from Lois Lowery’s The Giver, and the love story completely failed to pull me in.  You don’t feel the emotions and dilemmas of the characters like you do in others of the same genre: Hunger Games, Delirium, and Divergent.  I will finish the series though, as I rarely start a series and fail to finish it.  Maybe the next 2 books will make me feel differently, but I have a feeling I will remain pretty ambivalent about this series.

and another dystopian novel I read recently (though NOT a YA book for once!) was Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

Cover Image

Great book, different writing style (stream of consciousness at times) with lots of things that will make you mad/think.  A great pick for a book club as I think it’s a book that needs to be discussed.  As a woman I found several scenes in the book very difficult.  What if we weren’t allowed to work anymore?  Couldn’t access our own bank accounts?  Were treated as nothing but a womb?  This is a feminist novel if ever there were one.  Very good read.

Read Lately

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth: Book Cover

Young adult dystopian fiction is all the rage, and I just couldn’t resist starting another series after hearing so many good reviews.  I could not put this book down, and cannot wait to see where the series goes.  Set in Chicago, teenagers are required to choose which faction they will join, each led by a different virtue: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent).  The story follows a teenager named Tris as she goes through initiation by her faction, and of course falls in love for the first time, as is always the case in young adult lit!  If you liked The Hunger Games I think you’d really like this series, I just hate having to wait for the next books to be released!

A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard

A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard: Book Cover

I was too young at the time to be aware of the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard in 1991.  However I remember the news of her being recovered after spending 18 years living in her kidnapper’s backyard, the mother of two children, one birthed when she was 13, the other when she was 16.  Her memoir is very well written for someone who only had a 5th grade education.  She recounts the kidnapping and early years in captivity in striking detail.  And while she glosses over some details as I’m sure they are just too painful to discuss, she does share many of the horrible details of her life as a prisoner and basically a child sex slave to a pedophile…and his wife.  Anyway, this book is very interesting but heartbreaking at the same time.  She does not share much about her daughters, as she clearly wants to protect their privacy and shield them from the public eye.  One can assume they were likely molested and raped by their father/captor as well but that is not discussed.  While the details of this peculiar crime story are what most read the book for (I know I did), you really come away with a great appreciation for the resiliency of Jaycee.  If ever there were an argument for harsher penalties for sex offenders, this is it.  This man got away with everything but murder, even though neighbors reported suspicious behavior/structures on his property and his home was regularly visited by parole officers and law enforcement.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson: Book Cover

More YA Lit!  It took me a few chapters to get into this book and figure out the quirky characters, but it heats up quickly and I didn’t put it down until I was done.  This is a story about first love, grief, sisters, family, music, and creative expression.  Heavy at times but funny and very sweet at others.  It is an emotional story and a very unique one.  I highly recommend it.

The Mercy by my homegirl, Beverly Lewis

The Mercy (Rose Trilogy Series #3) by Beverly Lewis: Book Cover

Her books are like an addictive, shameful drug that I just cannot quit.  I don’t read any of the “imitations”, Beverly Lewis is THE ORIGINAL cheesy Amish romance novel writer.  This was the final book in the Rose Trilogy and it was one of the better series she’s written in recent years.  Not as good as Abram’s Daughters, but that 5 book series was epic in the world of Amish romance novels.  She set the bar high for herself.  I hope you are not reading any sarcasm in my words as THERE IS NONE.  Okay, maybe just a little 😉  In my infinite wisdom, I realized this book had been released last week at approximately 10:30pm last night, made the mistake of downloadng it, and didn’t stop until I finished at 1am.  Yeah I was dragging today.  Like I said, addictive and shameful, but always satisfying!  I even cried, and that’s rare.  Maybe it was just the fatigue.  More likely the Beverly Lewis spell, it is powerful guys!

vacation reads

So we both did a ton of reading on vacation, which was fabulous.  I can’t remember the last time I read so many books in so little time.

First I finished Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil before we toured Savannah, which gave me a lot of nice background on the city.  I still need to watch the movie on Netflix.

Next I read Maine, and devoured it in about 24 hours.  It is a great story about 4 women in an Irish Catholic family.  Despite the fact that I am not Irish, Catholic, nor an alcoholic, I could identify with each of them and loved that much of the story took place near Ogunquit, ME, one of the cities we visited on our honeymoon.

If You Were Here and Bossypants were both hilarious, quick reads.  Perfect for the beach.

The surprising favorite book from the trip for BOTH of us was The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson: Book Cover

If you have any interest in psychology, whether a skeptic or a believer, go out and get this book.  Tyler heard about it on NPR and I bought a hard copy of it at B&N for him to take on the trip (no way was I sharing my Nook!)  He read the entire thing while we were flying and sitting in airports the first day.  I picked it up as soon as he was done and read it in one sitting on the beach, this book is FASCINATING.

Fortunately I’d brought several other books for him to take to the beach, including:

Unbroken (two thumbs up from the hubs, it’s on my to read list now)

One More Theory about Happiness (another NPR rec Tyler picked up at the library but he says said this one was “eh”

and Sarah’s Key (I took this one for me but Tyler read it when he was out of options and said it wasn’t very good so we’ll see if I pick it up after all).