100 Must-Read Books on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenthood

As someone with a degree in maternal-child health who pursued doula training and childbirth education certification, I’ve read a lot of books on pregnancy and childbirth. When I decided to become a mother on my own, and then when I finally became pregnant, I devoured even more books – but this time, it was even more painfully clear that there was a main narrative running through most of the books: they presumed the reader was heterosexual and married – and from the tone, likely upper-middle class and White/non-minority. As a white, straight, cis woman who was single, if I had trouble seeing myself in many of the books, I could only imagine what a teen mom might feel like. Or a lesbian mom. Or a Black woman. Or Latinx. Or trans. Or or or. Which is why I’ve tried to include a diverse collection of books here. If you know of any more, please do share.

I compiled a list of 100 must-read books on pregnancy, birth, and parenthood, and they’re in no particular order of preference. Clearly, the market skews toward books for mothers, compared to fathers, unfortunately – although I think (and hope) this is changing.

A note: I had all of Ina May Gaskin’s books on my list, until this past weekend, when she made insensitive and ignorant comments about the issue of race in health disparities and maternal mortality. Her transphobic comments from the past, combined with the racist microaggressions from the weekend, were enough to make me reconsider, and cut her books. There are plenty of other books that strive to promote inclusivity.

There’s a mix of fiction and nonfiction books, and I’ve marked fiction with an asterisk (*) and forthcoming books with two (**).

Pregnancy

  1. From the Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, and Becoming a Parent by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris. This is, by far, the most inclusive, honest, and nonjudgmental book I have ever read about becoming a parent – it “goes there” with the honest, unpleasant parts and has a ton of great resources in its pages, as well.
  2. Knock Yourself Up: No Man? No Problem: A Tell-All Guide to Becoming a Single Mom by Louise Sloan. “[This book] offers an inside look at the logistical and legal processes of opting for single motherhood, drawing on the personal stories of women who have done it. Addressing a range of topics such as coping with loneliness, financial struggles, complex reactions of family members, and more, Knock Yourself Up covers the emotional and practical issues and provides the kind of intimate answers you won’t find anywhere else…”
  3. * The Zygote Chronicles: A Novel by Suzanne Finnamore. “…a riotous and poignant novel in journal form that takes us from conception to delivery room. Through the voice of a whip-smart, sass-talking everywoman, Zygote reveals the unsettling and uproarious truth about pregnancy and the prospect of motherhood. The Zygote Chronicles will resonate for any woman who has even briefly considered motherhood.”
  4. Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood by Sandra Steingraber. “[This book] is Steingraber’s exploration of the intimate ecology of motherhood. Using her scientist’s eye to study the biological drama of new life being knit from the molecules of air, food, and water flowing into her body, she looks at the environmental hazards that now threaten pregnant and breastfeeding women, and examines the effects these toxins can have on a child. Having Faith makes the metamorphosis of a few cells into a baby astonishingly vivid, and the dangers to human reproduction urgently real….”
  5. Avalanche: A Love Story by Julia Leigh. “In this brave and lucid account, Julia Leigh broaches a challenging life event often left undiscussed: how the struggle to have a child can take an agonizing toll. Leigh’s experience at the vanguard of medical science is acutely rendered, physically and emotionally, transmitting what it feels like to so desperately wish for a child while knowing that the odds are stacked against you. From the daily shots she puts herself through at home, to hopes raised and dashed, and finally to the decision to stop treatment, Avalanche bears witness to Leigh’s raw desire, suffering, strength, and, in the end, transformation―a shift to a different kind of love. “
  6. Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy by Latham Thomas. “In Mama Glow, maternity lifestyle maven Latham Thomas shares the tips and techniques to support a blissful journey to motherhood. She shows you how to make room for your pregnancy, assess your current diet, banish toxic habits, and incorporate yoga to keep your mind, body, and spirit in balance. Throughout, you’ll get tips to help reduce stress; alleviate common discomforts; demystify birth plans, labor coaches, and midwives; whip up pampering treats like homemade shea butter and coffee sugar scrub; and indulge in over 50 delicious, nutrient-rich recipes to nourish both you and your bun. Mama Glow also features a postpartum wellness plan to guide you back to your prebaby body, troubleshoot breastfeeding problems, and embrace your abundant new life.”
  7. My Miserable Lonely Lesbian Pregnancy by Andrea Askowitz. “In this memoir of her 40 weeks and five days in hell, Andrea Askowitz takes an unflinching look at her pregnant life from struggling with hormones to poor body image to a self imposed exile from family to take us on a ride through the turbulence of single lesbian motherhood. Along the way we meet her liberal parents as they struggle with their daughter’s choices, the lover she longs to reconnect with who goes M.I.A. before the pregnancy, the friends who turn out to be no help at all and strangers who offer up some unlikely kindness.”
  8. * Notes from the Underbelly: A Novel by Risa Green. “As a guidance counselor at an elite, Bel Air high school, Lara Stone is definitely not ready to have any spoiled, bratty kids of her own. At least not now, when she has finally managed to Tae-Bo and low-carb herself down to a perfect size four. But her husband has different ideas, and they include fatherhood. Now.”
  9. Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It by Sarah Elizabeth Richards. “Richards tells the history of this controversial science, from its moments of premature enthusiasm to the exciting race that led to the big breakthroughs. She also explores the hard facts of egg freezing—from the cost and practical obstacles to the probabilities of success. Above all, she shares the stories of these women, and especially her own, with emotional honesty and compassion, and makes the journey for all ultimately redeeming.”
  10. * Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag by A. K. Summers. “First pregnancy can be a fraught, uncomfortable experience for any woman, but for resolutely butch lesbian Teek Thomasson, it is exceptionally challenging: Teek identifies as a masculine woman in a world bent on associating pregnancy with a cult of uber-femininity. Teek wonders, “Can butches even get pregnant?” Of course, as she and her pragmatic femme girlfriend Vee discover, they can. But what happens when they do? Written and illustrated by A.K. Summers, and based on her own pregnancy, Pregnant Butch strives to depict this increasingly common, but still underrepresented experience of queer pregnancy with humor and complexity—from the question of whether suspenders count as legitimate maternity wear to the strains created by different views of pregnancy within a couple and finally to a culturally critical and compassionate interrogation of gender in pregnancy.”
  11. The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood by Belle Boggs. “In that heartbreaking essay [the one for which her book is named], Boggs eloquently recounts her realization that she might never be able to conceive. She searches the apparently fertile world around her–the emergence of thirteen-year cicadas, the birth of eaglets near her rural home, and an unusual gorilla pregnancy at a local zoo–for signs that she is not alone. Boggs also explores other aspects of fertility and infertility: the way longing for a child plays out in the classic Coen brothers film Raising Arizona; the depiction of childlessness in literature, from Macbeth to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; the financial and legal complications that accompany alternative means of family making; the private and public expressions of iconic writers grappling with motherhood and fertility. She reports, with great empathy, complex stories of couples who adopted domestically and from overseas, LGBT couples considering assisted reproduction and surrogacy, and women and men reflecting on childless or child-free lives.”
  12. * The Baby Trail by Sinead Moriarty. “Emma has it all mapped out: Go off the pill in December, have sex, get pregnant by January, have the baby in September. And with the help of a personal trainer, Emma figures she’ll be back in shape by Christmas. Happy New Year! But when three months of candle-scented sex fails to produce the desired result, Emma’s life becomes a rollercoaster of post-coital handstands, hormone inducing (a.k.a. sanity reducing) drugs, and a veritable army of fertility specialists. Emma and James try everything, from ovulation kits to in-vitro, but all their carefully laid plans seem to go south — in direct proportion to Emma’s plummeting self-esteem. And just when Emma feels she’s alienated everyone in her life — her twice-pregnant confidante, her singleton friend, even her own husband — events take a ninety-degree turn that will have unforeseen consequences for everyone.”
  13. Maybe Baby: 28 Writers Tell the Truth about Skepticism, Infertility, Baby Lust, Childlessness, Ambivalence, and How They Made the Biggest Decision of Their Lives by Lori Leibovich. “Based on a popular series at Salon.com, Maybe Baby offers both frank and nuanced opinions from a wide range of viewpoints on parenting choices, both alternative and traditional…. From infertility to adoption, from ambivalence to baby lust, Maybe Baby brings together the full force of opinions about this national, but also intensely personal, debate.”
  14. Black, Pregnant, and Loving It: The Comprehensive Pregnancy Guide for Today’s Woman of Color by Yvette Allen-Campbell and Dr. Suzanne Greenidge-Hewitt. “Let’s face it: Not all pregnancies are created equal. African American women are at a higher risk for complications such as hypertension, asthma and preterm birth. That’s why Dr. Suzanne Greenidge-Hewitt and Yvette Allen-Campbell wrote this must-have pregnancy guide for women of color.”
  15. Breeder: Real-Life Stories from the New Generation of Mothers by Ariel Gore and Bee Lavender. “In this ground-breaking anthology, Ariel Gore and Bee Lavender ask real moms — from Web site designers to tattoo-clad waitresses — to laugh, cry, scream, and shout about motherhood.”
  16. Surrogate Motherhood and the Politics of Reproduction by Susan Markens. “In an innovative analysis of legislative responses to surrogacy in the bellwether states of New York and California, Markens explores how discourses about gender, family, race, genetics, rights, and choice have shaped policies aimed at this issue. She examines the views of key players, including legislators, women’s organizations, religious groups, the media, and others. In a study that finds surprising ideological agreement among those with opposing views of surrogate motherhood, Markens challenges common assumptions about our responses to reproductive technologies and at the same time offers a fascinating picture of how reproductive politics shape social policy.”
  17. Home/Birth: A Poemic by Rachel Zucker and Arielle Greenberg. One of my all-time favorites. “ Literary Nonfiction. Cross-Genre. Women’s Studies. A lyric essay and total collaboration of extraordinary and shocking beauty, this hybrid text troubles the waters of genre, gender, motherhood, and the politics and poetics of birthing. An exacting and honest conversation between two of our most interesting writers and dedicated activists.”
  18. Great With Child: Letters to a Young Mother by Beth Ann Fennelly. “Beth Ann Fennelly, writing to a newly pregnant friend, goes beyond the nuts and bolts or sentimentality of other parenting literature, in letters that range in tone from serious to sisterly, from lighthearted to downright funny. Some answer specific questions; others muse about the identity shift a woman encounters when she enters Mommyland. This book invites all mothers to join the grand circle of giving and receiving advice about children.”
  19. Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster. “When award-winning economist Emily Oster was a mom-to-be herself, she evaluated the data behind the accepted rules of pregnancy, and discovered that most are often misguided and some are just flat-out wrong. Debunking myths and explaining everything from the real effects of caffeine to the surprising dangers of gardening, Expecting Bettering is the book for every pregnant woman who wants to enjoy a healthy and relaxed pregnancy—and the occasional glass of wine.”
  20. The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock by Tanya Selvaratnam. “Beyond her personal story, the author speaks to women in similar situations around the country, as well as fertility doctors, adoption counselors, reproductive health professionals, celebrities, feminists, journalists, and sociologists. Through in-depth reporting and her own experience, Selvaratnam urges more widespread education and open discussion about delayed motherhood in the hope that long-lasting solutions can take effect.”
  21. The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy by Kimberly Seals-Allers. “Kimberly Seals-Allers offers candid advice on specific health concerns affecting black women such as high blood pressure, sickle cell disease, diabetes, and low birth weight, as well as information about how to get your finances in order, how to cope with embarrassing pigmentation and hair texture changes, single-parenting, maternity fashion, how to deal with demanding jobs and hormone-induced meltdowns.”
  22. The Doulas: Radical Care for Pregnant People by Mary Mahoney, Lauren Mitchell, and Loretta Ross. “As more feminism migrates online, full-spectrum doulas remain focused on life’s physically intimate relationships: between caregivers and patients, parents and pregnancy, individuals and their own bodies. They are committed to supporting a pregnancy no matter the outcome—whether it results in birth, abortion, miscarriage, or adoption—and to facing the question of choice head-on.”
  23. Everything Conceivable: How the Science of Assisted Reproduction is Changing Our World by Liza Mundy. “Skyrocketing infertility rates and dizzying technological advances are revolutionizing American families and changing the way we think about parenthood, childbirth, and life itself. Using in-depth reporting and riveting anecdotal material from doctors, families, surrogates, sperm and egg donors, infertile men and women, single and gay and lesbian parents, and children conceived through technology, Mundy explores the impact of assisted reproduction on individuals as well as the ethical issues raised and the potentially vast social consequences.”

Birth

  1. In the Spirit of Homebirth: Modern Women, An Ancient Choice by Bronwyn Preece. “[This book] collects stories that celebrate the beauty and power of giving birth. Here are women from indigenous communities, of diverse socioeconomic classes and religions, in urban and rural settings, and the stories as well of family members and friends who witness and share the experience of homebirth with them. Partners describe the awe of watching a loved one bring new life into the world, children write sweetly about getting a baby brother or sister, and midwives and doulas tell us what it is like to aid women on their journeys….
  2. *Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens. “Lore arrives at the hospital alone―no husband, no partner, no friends. Her birth plan is explicit: she wants no fetal monitor, no IV, no epidural. Franckline, a nurse in the maternity ward―herself on the verge of showing―is patient with the young woman. She knows what it’s like to worry that something might go wrong, and she understands the distress when it does. She knows as well as anyone the severe challenge of childbirth, what it does to the mind and the body.
    Eleven Hours is the story of two soon-to-be mothers who, in the midst of a difficult labor, are forced to reckon with their pasts and re-create their futures.”
  3. Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England. “Here is a holistic approach to childbirth that examines this profound rite-of-passage not as a medical event but as an act of self-discovery. Exercises and activities such as journal writing, meditation, and painting will help mothers analyze their thoughts and face their fears during pregnancy. For use during birth, the book offers proven techniques for coping with labor pain without drugs, a discussion of the doctor or midwife’s role, and a look at the father’s responsibilities. Childbirth education should also include what to expect after the baby is born. Here are baby basics, such as how to bathe a newborn, how to get the little one to sleep, and tips for getting nursing off to a good start.”
  4. Ghostbelly by Elizabeth Heineman. “Ghostbelly is Elizabeth Heineman’s personal account of a home birth that goes tragically wrong—ending in a stillbirth—and the harrowing process of grief and questioning that follows. It’s also Heineman’s unexpected tale of the loss of a newborn: before burial, she brings the baby home for overnight stays. Does this sound unsettling? Of course. We’re not supposed to hold and caress dead bodies. But then again, babies aren’t supposed to die. In this courageous and deeply intimate memoir, Heineman examines the home-birth and maternal health-care industry, the isolation of midwives, and the scripting of her own grief.”
  5. Childbirth Without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth by Grantly Dick-Read. “In an age where birth has often been overtaken by obstetrics, Dr Dick-Read’s philosophy is still as fresh and relevant as it was when he originally wrote this book. He unpicks every possible root cause of western woman’s fear and anxiety in pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding and does so with overwhelming heart and empathy.”
  6. Survivor Moms: Women’s Stories of Birthing, Mothering, and Healing after Sexual Abuse by Mickey Sperlich. “One in four women in the United States is estimated to have been sexually assaulted at least once in her life, according to research reported in 1993. Since childbearing is a transformational step for women, how will survivors of childhood sexual abuse, with extra layers of challenges, cope with those changes? …Through their initiation into motherhood, these women are made to face, sometimes reluctantly, their painful past and then to find the strength to move on–to be the parent they’ve always wanted to have and to inspire a world they want their children to grow and thrive in.”
  7. Joyous Childbirth Changes the World by Tadashi Yoshimura. “The truth and power of birth is the subject of Dr. Yoshimura’s first book published in the United States. Yoshimura describes babies born so directly into the arms of their mothers that they do not cry, and women so transformed with pride and passion in their ability that they are joyous and forever changed. Instead of a medical emergency, Yoshimura describes birth as a transcendent and natural process that cannot be perfected, and that, when performed through the innate power of women, reveals what he calls a “mystic beauty.” Full of delightful stories of birthing women and peaceful smiling infants, and helpful tips from his childbirth preparation program, Joyous Childbirth Changes the World is a must-read for all expectant parents and those who care for them.”
  8. The Essential C-Section Guide by Maureen Connolly. “Despite the fact that roughly one in four babies in the United States is delivered by c-section, very little information about the experience is included in typical pregnancy books and physicians and childbirth educators often gloss over the details. The Essential C-Section Guide is written not only for women to read in preparation for a scheduled c-section and for those considered “high risk” who know that a c-section may become necessary but also for women recovering from an unexpected surgical delivery. This book provides answers to important questions about what the surgery entails, what a woman can expect as she recovers, and what considerations should be made for future pregnancies and deliveries.”
  9. Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds by Cynthia Gabriel. “These days, many mothers-to-be find themselves torn between the desire for a natural childbirth with minimal medical intervention and the peace of mind offered by instant access to life-saving technology that only a hospital can provide. In Natural Hospital Birth, doula Cynthia Gabriel asserts that there is no good reason that women in North America should not be able to have both.”
  10. Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth by Julia Chinyere Oparah and Alicia D. Bonaparte. “There is a global crisis in maternal health care for black women. In the United States, black women are over three times more likely to perish from pregnancy-related complications than white women; their babies are half as likely to survive the first year. Many black women experience policing, coercion, and disempowerment during pregnancy and childbirth and are disconnected from alternative birthing traditions. This book places black women’s voices at the center of the debate on what should be done to fix the broken maternity system and foregrounds black women’s agency in the emerging birth justice movement. Mixing scholarly, activist, and personal perspectives, the book shows readers how they too can change lives, one birth at a time.”
  11. Giving Birth: A Journey into the World of Mothers and Midwives by Catherine Taylor. “Catherine Taylor, a doula (birth assistant) and mother, has written an evocative narrative in which she offers insightful observations of the working lives of midwives and the women who have depended on their skills and strength to help bring their children into the world. This is the perfect companion for parents-to-be and all professionals who are engaged in and witness to the miracle of birth. “
  12. A Good Birth: Finding the Positive and Profound in Your Childbirth Experience by Anne Lyerly. “Bringing a new perspective to childbirth, the book’s wisdom is drawn from in-depth interviews with women with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, and whose birth stories range from quick and simple to complicated and frightening. Describing what went well, what didn’t, and what they’d do differently next time, these mothers give voice to the complete experience of childbirth, helping both women and their healthcare providers develop strategies to address the emotional needs of the mother, going beyond the standard birth plans and conversations. Transcending the “medical” versus “natural” childbirth debate, A Good Birth paves the entryway to motherhood, turning our attention to the deeper and more important question of what truly makes for the best birth possible. “
  13. Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block. “A groundbreaking narrative investigation of childbirth in the age of machines, malpractice, and managed care, Pushed presents the complete picture of maternity care in America. From inside the operating room of a hospital with a 44% Cesarean rate to the living room floor of a woman who gives birth with an illegal midwife, Block exposes a system in which few women have an optimal experience. Pushed surveys the public health impact of routine labor inductions, C-sections, and epidurals, but also examines childbirth as a women’s rights issue: Do women even have the right to choose a normal birth? Is that right being upheld? A wake-up call for our times, Block’s gripping research reveals that while emergency obstetric care is essential, we are overusing medical technology at the expense of maternal and infant health.”
  14. Cut, Stapled, and Mended: When one Woman Reclaimed Her Body and Gave Birth on Her Own Terms After Cesarean by Roanna Rosewood. “In exquisite detail, Roanna holds nothing back in her powerful birth memoir, plunging the reader deep into the intimacy of this universal rite of passage. Part memoir, part manifesto, this is a must read for anyone who has given birth, will give birth, or who loves someone who will give birth.”
  15. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley. “Sarah Buckley might be called a third-wave natural birth advocate. A doctor and a mother, she approaches the question of how a woman and baby might have the most fulfilling birth experience with respect for the wisdom of both medical science and the human body. Using current medical and epidemiological research plus women’s experiences (including her own), she demonstrates that what she calls “undisturbed birth” is almost always healthier and safer than high-technology approaches to birth. Her wise counsel on issues like breastfeeding and sleeping during postpartum helps extend the gentle birth experience into a gentle parenting relationship.”

Parenthood

  1. Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood by Tomas Moniz. “Combining the best of the award-winning magazine Rad Dad and the Daddy Dialectic blog, this compilation features the best essays written for fathers by a multitude of dads from different walks of life. Bestselling authors, writers, musicians, and others collaborate on this collection that focuses on some of the modern complexities of fatherhood. Touching on topics such as the brutalities, beauties, and politics of the birth experience; the challenges of parenting on an equal basis with mothers; the tests faced by transgendered and gay fathers; the emotions of sperm donation; and parental confrontations with war, violence, racism, and incarceration, this anthology leaves no stone unturned in the discussion of being a dad.”
  2. * After Birth by Elisa Albert. “Ari is isolated with a one-year-old son in a decayed upstate New York town. Then Mina appears, pregnant and alone. Suddenly there is the possibility of connection, and soon the two are comrades-in-arms, navigating the hostile terrain of new motherhood together. Acclaimed for its insight, outrageous humor, and power to spark fierce debate, After Birthis a daring and transformative novel about friendship, history, and the body.”
  3. * Motherhood Made a Man out of Me by Karen Karbo. “Brooke and Mary Rose are best friends. Brooke is the mother of a six-month-old. Mary Rose is pregnant. Brooke is married to Lyle, though, at times, she wonders why. Mary Rose would be married if Ward, the father of her child, weren’t already. Ward and Brooke are cousins… A comedy of manners and biology, Karbo gives us a laugh-out-loud look at the wonders of pregnancy and motherhood. It is a world where the women are fierce and strong and the men duck and cover; a world that is turned upside down when the expecting mother turns out a most unexpected child.”
  4. Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution by Adrienne Rich. One of my favorite examinations of the construction of motherhood. “Adrienne Rich’s influential and landmark investigation concerns both the experience and the institution of motherhood. The experience is her own―as a woman, a poet, a feminist, and a mother―but it is an experience determined by the institution, imposed on all women everywhere. She draws on personal materials, history, research, and literature to create a document of universal importance.”
  5. Mamaphonic: Balancing Motherhood and Other Creative Acts by Bee Lavender. “Mamaphonic is an anthology about mothering and the creative process. The book includes confessions and conversations about the true, exhilarating, entertaining, and difficult aspects of remaining creative while raising kids. It’s a smart, sexy, alternately funny and heartbreaking look at balancing art and motherhood, told in the artists’ own words.”
  6. My Mother Wears Combat Boots: A Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us by Jessica Mills. “Amid stories of bringing kids (and grandparents) to women’s rights demonstrations, taking baby on tour with her band, and organizing cooperative childcare, Jessica gives detailed nuts-and-bolts information about weaning, cloth vs. disposable diapers, the psychological effects of co-sleeping, and even how to get free infant gear. This book provides a clever, hip, and entertaining mix of advice, anecdotes, political analysis, and factual sidebars that will help parents as they navigate the first years of their child’s life.”
  7. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. This might be my favorite book of all time on becoming a mother. Smartly written and brutally insightful. “At its center is a romance: the story of the author’s relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes Nelson’s account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, offers a firsthand account of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making.”
  8. Love Works Like This: Moving from One Kind of Life to Another by Lauren Slater. “Slater, career-oriented and willfully autonomous, charts her own personal journey and decision-making process, starting with a list of the pros and cons, about having a child. The cons are many, the pros only one: “learning a new kind of love.”…Slater’s complex biological and psychological history also lies at the core of this unique and yet strikingly universal story. One of the first people ever to take Prozac, she chronicles the impossibly conflicting advice regarding pregnancy and antidepressants, and explains the rationale behind her eventual decision to stop taking the medication during her first trimester. This is Slater’s first encounter with self-sacrifice, and for her a crossroad at which modern medicine and basic human love meet.”
  9. * Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein. “Karen Neulander, a successful New York political consultant and single mother, has always been fiercely protective of her son, Jacob, now six. She’s had to be: when Jacob’s father, Dave, found out Karen was pregnant and made it clear that fatherhood wasn’t in his plans, Karen walked out of the relationship, never telling Dave her intention was to raise their child alone. But now Jake is asking to meet his dad, and with good reason: Karen is dying. When she finally calls her ex, she’s shocked to find Dave ecstatic about the son he never knew he had. …As she struggles to play out her last days in the “right” way for Jake, Karen wrestles with the knowledge that the only thing she cannot bring herself to do for her son—let his father become a permanent part of his life—is the thing he needs from her the most.”
  10. ** Regretting Motherhood: A Study by Orna Donath. “Women who opt not to be mothers are frequently warned that they will regret their decision later in life, yet we rarely talk about the possibility that the opposite might also be true—that a woman who becomes a mother might regret it. Sociologist Orna Donath dispels the silence around this profoundly taboo subject in a powerful work that draws from her years of research interviewing women who wish they had never become mothers.”
  11. Little Labors by Rivka Galchen. This was the first book I read post-partum, and it was perfect. “Varying in length from just a sentence or paragraph to a several-page story or essay, Galchen’s puzzle pieces assemble into a shining, unpredictable, mordant picture of the ordinary-extraordinary nature of babies and literature. Anecdotal or analytic, each part opens up an odd and tender world of wonder. The 47 Ronin; the black magic of maternal love; babies morphing from pumas to chickens; the quasi-repellent concept of “women writers”; origami-ophilia in Oklahoma as a gateway drug to a lifelong obsession with Japan; discussions of favorite passages from the Heian masterpieces Genji and The Pillow Book; the frightening prevalence of orange as today’s new chic color for baby gifts; Frankenstein as a sort of baby; babies gold mines; babies as tiny Godzillas …”
  12. Holding Silvan: A Brief Life by Monica Wesolowska. “In the opening of [the book], Monica Wesolowska gives birth to her first child, a healthy-seeming boy who is taken from her arms for “observation” when he won’t stop crying. Within days, Monica and her husband have been given the grimmest of prognoses for Silvan, and they must make a choice about his life. The story that follows is not a story of typical maternal heroism. There is no medical miracle here. Instead, we find the strangest of hopes.”
  13. Where’s the Mother? Stories from a Transgender Dad by Trevor McDonald. “As a transgender man in a gay relationship, Trevor has gone through the journeys of pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing all while exploring (and sometimes defending) his role as a trans dad. Trevor and his partner tackle all the questions new parents are familiar with (Should we feed our baby breast milk or formula? Should we have a hospital or home birth?) and others perhaps unfamiliar (How can a man cope with gender dysphoria when going through such female-coded rituals as childbirth and breastfeeding? How can a person breastfeed after having had chest masculinization surgery? How do we find donor milk to supplement our own modest milk supply?).”
  14. * Momzillas by Jill Kargman. “Hannah Allen has recently moved to the neighborhood with her New York City–bred investment banker husband and their two-year-old daughter, Violet. She’s immediately inundated by an outpouring of advice from her not-so-well-intentioned new friends and her overbearing, socially conscious mother-in-law, who coach her on matters ranging from where to buy the must-have $300 baby dress to how to get into the only pre-pre-preschool that counts. Despite her better instincts and common sense, Hannah soon finds herself caught up in the competitive whirl of high-stakes mothering.”
  15. * Little Earthquakes: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner. “Becky is a plump, sexy chef who has a wonderfull husband and baby girl, a restaurant that received a citywide acclaim — and the mother-in-law from hell. Kelly is an event planner who’s struggling to balance her work and motherhood while dealing with unemployed husband who seems content to channel-surf for eight hours a day. Ayinde’s basketball superstar husband breaks her trust at her most vulnerable moment, putting their new family even more in the public eye. Then, there’s Lia, a Philadelphia native who has left her Hollywood career behind, along with her husband, and a tragic secret to start her life all over again. From prenatal yoga to postbirth sex, Little Earthquakes is a frank, funny, fiercely perceptive take on the comedies and tragedies of love and marriage.”
  16. Everything You Ever Wanted: A Memoir by Jillian Lauren. “In her younger years, Jillian Lauren was a college dropout, a drug addict, and an international concubine in the Prince of Brunei’s harem, an experience she immortalized in in her bestselling memoir, SOME GIRLS. In her thirties, Jillian’s most radical act was learning the steadying power of love when she and her rock star husband adopt an Ethiopian child with special needs.  After Jillian loses a close friend to drugs, she herself is saved by her fierce, bold love for her son as she fights to make him—and herself—feel safe and at home in the world.”
  17. Mommies Who Drink: Sex, Drugs, and Other Distant Memories of an Ordinary Mom by Brett Paesel. “With a poignant voice and a fresh style that makes this memoir read like the best women’s fiction, Paesel navigates mommyhood in all its forms–the ecstatic, the terrifying, the tedious, the hilarious, the transcendental, and the sticky. Paesel’s laugh-out-loud perspective will appeal to all women who are braving the new world of motherhood, where the secret question on their minds at playgroup is “When is it too early in the day to start drinking?”
  18. The Essential Hip Mama: Writing from the Cutting Edge of Parenting by Ariel Gore. “The Essential Hip Mama captures the heart of a decade’s worth of earthy, honest, soulful parenting—and topics from circumcision to dating, abortion to the belief that “mothers don’t fart.” Gore has gathered in one volume the whispers and conversations heard in homes, on playgrounds, and in coffeehouses around the country. Reassuring and hopeful, The Essential Hip Mama is a brilliant testament that one becomes an “expert” simply through the act of mothering, echoing Gore’s own words, “Whenever I’ve needed parenting advice, I’ve put out a call for submissions.”
  19. * Leave Me: A Novel by Gayle Forman. “Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention–meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack. Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going we see our lives from a different perspective.”
  20. ** Beyond the High Blue Air: A Memoir by Lu Spinney. “When Spinney’s twenty-nine-year-old son, Miles, flies up on his snowboard…[h]e lands hard on the ice and falls into a coma. Thus begins the erratic loss― Miles first in a coma and then trapped in a fluctuating state of minimal consciousness―that unravels over the next five years. Spinney, her husband, and three other children put their lives on hold to tend to Miles at various hospitals and finally in a care home. They hold out hope that he will be returned to them. With blunt precision, Spinney chronicles her family’s intimate experience.”
  21. The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui. “At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.”
  22. Rad Families: A Celebration by Tomas Moniz and Ariel Gore. “Rad Families: A Celebration honors the messy, the painful, the playful, the beautiful, the myriad ways we create families. This is not an anthology of experts, or how-to articles on perfect parenting; it often doesn’t even try to provide answers. Instead, the writers strive to be honest and vulnerable in sharing their stories and experiences, their failures and their regrets. Gathering parents and writers from diverse communities, it explores the process of getting pregnant from trans birth to adoption, grapples with issues of racism and police brutality, probes raising feminists and feminist parenting. It plumbs the depths of empty nesting and letting go.”
  23. * Alice & Oliver: A Novel by Charles Bock. “New York, 1993. Alice Culvert is a caring wife, a doting new mother, a loyal friend, and a soulful artist—a fashion designer who wears a baby carrier and haute couture with equal aplomb. In their loft in Manhattan’s gritty Meatpacking District, Alice and her husband, Oliver, are raising their infant daughter, Doe, delighting in the wonders of early parenthood. Their life together feels so vital and full of promise, which makes Alice’s sudden cancer diagnosis especially staggering. In the span of a single day, the couple’s focus narrows to the basic question of her survival. Though they do their best to remain brave, each faces enormous pressure: Oliver tries to navigate a labyrinthine healthcare system and handle their mounting medical bills; Alice tries to be hopeful as her body turns against her. Bracing themselves for the unthinkable, they must confront the new realities of their marriage, their strengths as partners and flaws as people, how to nourish love against all odds, and what it means to truly care for another person.”
  24. Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir by Wednesday Martin. “When Wednesday Martin first arrives on New York City’s Upper East Side, she’s clueless about the right addresses, the right wardrobe, and the right schools, and she’s taken aback by the glamorous, sharp-elbowed mommies around her. She feels hazed and unwelcome until she begins to look at her new niche through the lens of her academic background in anthropology. As she analyzes the tribe’s mating and migration patterns, childrearing practices, fetish objects, physical adornment practices, magical purifying rituals, bonding rites, and odd realities like sex segregation, she finds it easier to fit in and even enjoy her new life. Then one day, Wednesday’s world is turned upside down, and she finds out there’s much more to the women who she’s secretly been calling Manhattan Geishas.”
  25. * How to Party with an Infant by Kaui Hart Hemmings. “When Mele Bart told her boyfriend Bobby she was pregnant with his child, he stunned her with an announcement of his own: he was engaged to someone else. Fast forward two years, Mele’s daughter is a toddler, and Bobby and his fiancée want Ellie to be the flower girl at their wedding. Mele, who also has agreed to attend the nuptials, knows she can’t continue obsessing about Bobby and his cheese making, Napa-residing, fiancée. She needs something to do. So she answers a questionnaire provided by the San Francisco Mommy Club in elaborate and shocking detail and decides to enter their cookbook writing contest. Even though she joined the group out of desperation, Mele has found her people: Annie, Barrett, Georgia, and Henry (a stay-at-home dad). As the wedding date approaches, Mele uses her friends’ stories to inspire recipes and find comfort, both.”
  26. The Mommy Group: Freaking Out, Finding Friends, and Surviving the Happiest Time of our Lives Elizabeth Isadora Gold. I read this when I was pregnant, and again after giving birth. It gets better each time, and will be a go-to of mine for a long time. “In 2010, seven women met in Brooklyn, New York, to form a Mommy Group. Over coffee, croissants, wine, and the occasional baby carrot, they commiserated about typical new-mother issues: difficult births, babies who slept in ten-minute increments, and breast pumps that talked back in the middle of the night. And then things got complicated. Elizabeth and Melissa suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety. Jane’s daughter was diagnosed with developmental delays. Anna’s husband left her when their baby was two weeks old. Through it all, the Mommy Group laughed, supported, and learned lessons from one another that the myriad “experts” hadn’t delivered.”
  27. Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott. A classic, and for good reason. “It’s not like she’s the only woman to ever have a baby. At thirty-five. On her own. But Anne Lamott makes it all fresh in her now-classic account of how she and her son and numerous friends and neighbors and some strangers survived and thrived in that all important first year. From finding out that her baby is a boy (and getting used to the idea) to finding out that her best friend and greatest supporter Pam will die of cancer (and not getting used to that idea), with a generous amount of wit and faith (but very little piousness), Lamott narrates the great and small events that make up a woman’s life.
  28. Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines by Alexis Pauline Gumbs and China Martens. “Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines is an anthology that centers mothers of color and marginalized mothers’ voices—women who are in a world of necessary transformation. The challenges faced by movements working for antiviolence, anti-imperialist, and queer liberation, as well as racial, economic, reproductive, gender, and food justice are the same challenges that marginalized mothers face every day.”
  29. * We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. This book still haunts me. “…Lionel Shriver’s resonant story of a mother’s unsettling quest to understand her teenage son’s deadly violence, her own ambivalence toward motherhood, and the explosive link between them reverberates with the haunting power of high hopes shattered by dark realities.”
  30. Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein. “Waiting for Daisy is about loss, love, anger and redemption. It’s about doing all the things you swore you’d never do to get something you hadn’t even been sure you wanted. It’s about being a woman in a confusing, contradictory time. It’s about testing the limits of a loving marriage. And it’s about trying (and trying and trying) to have a baby.
    Orenstein’s story begins when she tells her new husband that she’s not sure she ever wants to be a mother; it ends six years later after she’s done almost everything humanly possible to achieve that goal, from “fertility sex” to escalating infertility treatments to New Age remedies to forays into international adoption.”
  31. ** The Unprotected: A Novel by Kelly Sokol. “As a driven advertising executive, Lara James has always put her career before any plans for a family, preferring professional chic to stay-at-home style. But after her father’s death, she realizes she’s ready. More than ready, in fact. Yet pregnancy—something other women seem to accomplish effortlessly, even accidentally—doesn’t come easily to Lara. What began as an adventure quickly becomes a nightmare as she and her husband endure endless IVF treatments, hormone therapy, and devastating miscarriages. When Lara at last becomes pregnant and gives birth to a daughter, Auden, she believes their determination has paid off. But Auden cries day and night, ear-shattering screams that strip Lara of her nerves and energy. Her life as a sleep-deprived new mother is unrelenting, and, guiltily, Lara can’t help but mourn for what she once had. With her marriage crumbling, Lara is increasingly driven to alarming thoughts and destructive actions she would never have imagined possible before now. Hanging on by a thread, it’s only in her darkest moment that Lara will discover the true depths of her love and devotion—and what she’s willing to face for the family she’s so desperately sought.”
  32. * Tales from the Crib by Risa Green. “Picking up where the critically acclaimed Notes from the Underbelly left off, Lara tries her damnedest to become a “good” mother, while keeping sane among the Gucci-clad Mommunists from her Mommy and Me class. But just when she’s certain she’ll never figure this nurturing thing out, she finds support in the unlikeliest of places, and comes to understand that-unlike diapering-there’s no wrong way to love someone.”
  33. * Primahood: Magenta by Tyler Cohen. “This blend of autobiography and surrealism details a mother’s efforts to raise her daughter amid a world filled with toxic gender expectations and challenging racial politics.”
  34. The End of Eve: A Memoir by Ariel Gore. “At age 39, Ariel Gore has everything she’s always wanted: a successful writing career, a long-term partnership, a beautiful if tiny home, a daughter in college and a son in preschool. But life’s happy endings don’t always last. If it’s not one thing, after all, it’s your mother. Her name is Eve. Her epic temper tantrums have already gotten her banned from three cab companies in Portland. And she’s here to announce that she’s dying.”
  35. The Big Rumpus: A Mother’s Tale from the Trenches by Ayun Halliday. “Creator of the wildly popular parenting zine The East Village Inky, Halliday’s words and line drawings describe the quirks and everyday travails of a young urban family, warts and all. Honest in her parenting foibles and fixed in her opinions on public breast-feeding and the perfect Halloween costume, Halliday’s wry observations on daily life validate the complex, absurd wondrousness that is the life of the unpaid caregiver.”
  36. The Still Point of the Turning World by Emily Rapp. “Like all mothers, Emily Rapp had ambitious plans for her first and only child, Ronan.  He would be smart, loyal, physically fearless, and level-headed, but fun.  He would be good at crossword puzzles like his father.  He would be an avid skier like his mother.  Rapp would speak to him in foreign languages and give him the best education. But all of these plans changed when Ronan was diagnosed at nine months old with Tay-Sachs disease, a rare and always-fatal degenerative disorder.  Ronan was not expected to live beyond the age of three; he would be permanently stalled at a developmental level of six months.  Rapp and her husband were forced to re-evaluate everything they thought they knew about parenting.  They would have to learn to live with their child in the moment; to find happiness in the midst of sorrow; to parent without a future.”
  37. **The Resurrection of Joan Ashby: A Novel by Cherise Wolas. “When Joan finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is stunned by Martin’s delight, his instant betrayal of their pact. She makes a fateful, selfless decision then, to embrace her unintentional family. Challenged by raising two precocious sons, it is decades before she finally completes her masterpiece novel. Poised to reclaim the spotlight, to resume the intended life she gave up for love, a betrayal of Shakespearean proportion forces her to question every choice she has made. Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is a story about sacrifice and motherhood, the burdens of expectation and genius.”
  38. Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected – a Memoir by Kelle Hampton. “The author of the popular blog Enjoying the Small Things—named The Bump’s Best Special Needs Blog and The Blog You’ve Learned the Most From in the 2010 BlogLuxe Awards—Kelle Hampton interweaves lyrical prose and stunning four-color photography as she recounts the unforgettable story of the first year in the life of her daughter Nella, who has Down syndrome.”
  39. Forever Lily: An Unexpected Mother’s Journey to Adoption in China by Beth Nonte Russell. “When Beth Nonte Russell travels to China to help her friend Alex adopt a baby girl from an orphanage there, she thinks it will be an adventure, a chance to see the world. But her friend, who had prepared for the adoption for many months, panics soon after being presented with the frail baby, and the situation develops into one of the greatest challenges of Russell’s life.”
  40. Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman’s Guide by Mikki Morrissette. “The comprehensive guide for single women interested in proactively becoming and being a mother—includes the essential tools needed to decide whether to take this step, information on how best to follow through, and insight about answering the child’s questions and needs over time.”
  41. This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression by Karen R Kleiman and Valerie Davis Raskin. “In this definitive guide, postpartum experts Karen Kleiman and Valerie Davis Raskin offer compassionate support and solid advice on dealing with every aspect of PPD. Their proven self-help program, which can be used alone or with a support group or therapist, will help you monitor each phase of illness, recognize when you need professional help, cope with daily life, and recover with new strength and confidence.”
  42. ** Sleepless Nights and Kisses for Breakfast: Reflections on Fatherhood by Matteo Bussola. “For two years, he’s been writing posts on Facebook capturing the beauty of ordinary moments with his family. Sleepless Nights and Kisses for Breakfast is the memoir that grew out of these writings. Divided into winter, spring, summer, and fall, the book follows the different seasons of parenthood and life. At times moving, and at others humorous, these writings remind people to savor the present and appreciate the simple things in life.”
  43. In Her Own Sweet Time: Egg Freezing and the New Frontiers of Family by Rachel Lehmann-Haupt. “Women are making massive strides in gender equality, edging out men as the new majority in the workforce. But, because of their brief window for childbearing, this also means a drastically shifting paradigm for motherhood and family planning. In this 2nd edition, Lehmann-Haupt has updated the inspiring, honest account of her own efforts to reconcile modern love and modern life with the latest medical research.”
  44. ** Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan. “There are good moms and bad moms—and then there are hot-mess moms. Introducing Ashley Keller, career girl turned stay-at-home mom who’s trying to navigate the world of Pinterest-perfect, Facebook-fantastic and Instagram-impressive mommies but failing miserably. When Ashley gets the opportunity to participate in the Motherhood Better boot camp run by the mommy-blog-empire maven she idolizes, she jumps at the chance to become the perfect mom she’s always wanted to be. But will she fly high or flop? “
  45. Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein. “The rise of the girlie-girl, warns Peggy Orenstein, is no innocent phenomenon. Following her acclaimed books Flux, Schoolgirls, and the provocative New York Times bestseller Waiting for Daisy, Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter offers a radical, timely wake-up call for parents, revealing the dark side of a pretty and pink culture confronting girls at every turn as they grow into adults.”
  46. ** The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs. “Nina Riggs was just thirty-seven years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer—one small spot. Within a year, the mother of two sons, ages seven and nine, and married sixteen years to her best friend, received the devastating news that her cancer was terminal. How does one live each day, “unattached to outcome”? How does one approach the moments, big and small, with both love and honesty? Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs’s breathtaking memoir continues the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in his gorgeous When Breath Becomes Air. She asks, what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time?”
  47. ** The Unmumsy Mum: The Hilarious Highs and Emotional Lows of Motherhood by Sarah Turner. “Sarah Turner’s first few months of parenting were tough. On the darkest of sleep-deprived days, when the baby would not settle and she was irritable and the house was a disaster-zone, she wanted to read about someone who felt the same. Someone who would reassure her that she wasn’t a total failure. But she found nothing of the sort. She decided then and there that she would write something herself. She would document parenthood as she found it. Not how she wanted to find it or how she wanted other people to think that she found it. But how it was. Warts and all. Thus, her blog was born.”
  48. Accidentally on Purpose: The True Tale of a Happy Single Mother by Mary Pols. “At thirty-nine, movie critic Mary Pols knew she wanted to have a baby. But never—not in a million years—on her own. When she finds herself unexpec­tedly expecting, she plunges into the greatest adventure of her life. With humor, insight, and compelling honesty, Pols reveals what it means to compromise in the name of love and to find joy in an accidental life, suddenly brimming with purpose.”
  49. All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior. “Recruiting from a wide variety of sources—in history, sociology, economics, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology—she dissects both the timeless strains of parenting and the ones that are brand new, and then brings her research to life in the homes of ordinary parents around the country. The result is an unforgettable series of family portraits, starting with parents of young children and progressing in later chapters to parents of teens. Through lively and accessible storytelling, Senior follows these mothers and fathers as they wrestle with some of parenthood’s deepest vexations—and luxuriate in some of its finest rewards. Meticulously researched yet imbued with emotional intelligence, All Joy and No Fun makes us reconsider some of our culture’s most basic beliefs about parenthood, all while illuminating the profound ways children deepen and add purpose to our lives.”
  50. I Heart My Little A-Holes by Karen Alpert. “Once upon a time you and your partner had a perfect life: dinners out, weekend mornings cuddling in bed, brunch with friends. Then you gave birth to a poop machine (or two). Now, it’s all about the pediatrician, breast pumps, princess dresses, and minivans. And discovering that your pride and joy is actually a little A-hole. When your son wakes you up at 3:00 A.M. because he wants to watch Caillou, he’s an a-hole. When your daughter outlines every corner of your living room with a purple crayon, she’s an a-hole. When your rug rats purposely paint the kitchen ceiling with their smoothies, they’re a-holes. At times like these, it’s only natural to want to kill them (or yourself). But it’s against the law (and there’s the suicide hotline). Plus, there’s that whole loving them more than anything in the whole world thing.”
  51. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan. “…Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald’s, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins (“celebrities for little kids”) to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”).”
  52. * Baby Proof by Emily Giffin. “Claudia Parr has everything going for her. A successful editor at a publishing house in Manhattan, she’s also a devoted sister, aunt, and friend. Yet she’s never wanted to become a mother–which she discovers is a major hurdle to marriage, something she desperately wants. Then she meets her soul mate Ben who, miraculously, feels the same way about parenthood. The two fall in love and marry, committed to one another and their life of adventure and discovery. All’s well until one of them has a change of heart. Someone wants a baby after all.”
  53. Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic: And Other Opinions I Can’t Back up with Facts by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. “Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is officially fed up with the endless mommy fads, trends, studies, findings, and facts about how to raise children. Tiger Mom or Cool Mom? Organic or vegan? “TV is the devil” or “TV is a godsend”? The mother of three young girls, Stefanie has finally decided to hell with Google—she’s going to find out how to be a mom all on her own. In this latest mommy book from the popular blogger, author, and TV personality, Stefanie will share her secrets for achieving a balance in motherhood between being protective and caring, and downright bats**t crazy.”
  54. Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by Karen Maezen Miller. This book was repeatedly suggested to me after I gave birth – a book about how parenting challenges can become lessons, and how motherhood can be a journey – but I could never finish it. That being said, I’m recommending it because I see the impact it’s made on my friends, and maybe I’m just not in the right space for it right now.
  55. * All I Love and Know: A Novel by Judith Frank. “For years, Matthew Greene and Daniel Rosen have enjoyed a quiet domestic life together in Northampton, Massachusetts. Opposites in many ways, they have grown together and made their relationship work. But when they learn that Daniel’s twin brother and sister-in-law have been killed in a bombing in Jerusalem, their lives are suddenly, utterly transformed. In dealing with their families and the need to make a decision about who will raise the deceased couple’s two children, both Matthew and Daniel are confronted with challenges that strike at the very heart of their relationship. What is Matthew’s place in an extended family that does not completely accept him or the commitment he and Daniel have made? How do Daniel’s questions about his identity as a Jewish man affect his life as a gay American? Tensions only intensify when they learn that the deceased parents wanted Matthew and Daniel to adopt the children—six-year-old Gal, and baby Noam.
  56. One Good Egg: An Illustrated Memoir by Suzy Becker. “Suzy Becker found professional success in her twenties, and by her thirties, she decided she had everything she needed-the home, the savings, the friends, the family, and the gumption-to have a baby alone. At age thirty-nine, she joined the ranks of the six million women who need medical help to conceive. In One Good Egg, she chronicles her travels through the maze of fertility treatments, constantly considering and reconsidering how far she was willing to go, inwardly convinced none of it would ever work. She learned she was pregnant on her way to tape an essay for NPR, and five months later married her true love.”
  57. * The Facts of Life by Paula Knight. “In the 1970s, best friends Polly and April collect hazy knowledge about the “facts of life”—sex, reproduction, and gender norms—through the gossip of older girls, magazines and books, and the everyday behavior of their families and teachers. What they learn reinforces their assumption that they will grow up to become mothers. As the years pass, they each choose paths that they believe will enable them to “have it all.” April’s dreams of motherhood come true before too long, but as Polly enthusiastically builds a career, her desire and hope to start a family become less firmly ingrained. Her struggles with chronic illness also have an effect on her choices and relationships, and she wonders whether motherhood will be in the cards for her at all. Soon she meets Jack, and together they start a fraught journey, first debating whether parenthood is right for them and then facing the heartbreak of repeated miscarriages and the effects of illness on their ability to have a child. Through it all, Polly is forced to reexamine what family can mean in a society that so often associates family—and womanhood—with children.”
  58. Confessions of the Other Mother: Non-Biological Lesbian Moms Tell All by Harlan Aizley. “This candid peek into a previously unexamined side of lesbian parenting is full of stories that are sometimes humorous, sometimes moving, but at all times celebratory. Each parenting tale sheds light on the many facets of motherhood, offering gay and straight readers alike a deeper understanding of what it means to love and parent in the twenty-first century.”
  59. Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman. “In our mothers’ day there were good mothers, indifferent mothers, and occasionally, great mothers. Today we have only Bad Mothers: If you work, you’re neglectful; if you stay home, you’re smothering. If you discipline, you’re buying them a spot on the shrink’s couch; if you let them run wild, they will be into drugs by seventh grade. Is it any wonder so many women refer to themselves at one time or another as a “bad mother”?”
  60. Why Have Kids? A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness by Jessica Valenti. “If parenting is making Americans unhappy, if it’s impossible to “have it all,” if people don’t have the economic, social, or political structures needed to support parenting, then why do it? And why are anxious new parents flocking to every Tiger Mother and Bébé-raiser for advice on how to raise kids?In Why Have Kids?, Valenti explores these controversial questions through on-the-ground reporting, startling new research, and her own unique experiences as a mom. She moves beyond the black and white “mommy wars” over natural parenting, discipline, and work-life balance to explore a more nuanced reality: one filled with ambivalence, joy, guilt, and exhaustion.
  61. Waiting for Birdy by Catherine Newman. “…Newman charts the year she anticipated the birth of her second child while also coping with the realities of raising a toddler. As she navigates life with her existentially curious and heartbreakingly sweet three-year-old, and her doozy of a pregnancy, she lends her irresistibly unique voice to the secret thoughts and fears of parents everywhere.”
  62. Bringing up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French  Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. “When American journalist Pamela Druckerman had a baby in Paris, she didn’t aspire to become a “French parent.” But she noticed that French children slept through the night by two or three months old. They ate braised leeks. They played by themselves while their parents sipped coffee. And yet French kids were still boisterous, curious, and creative. Why? How?”
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