Aunt Books Wanted!

Elizabeth Bastos

Staff Writer

Elizabeth Bastos has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and writes at her blog 19th-Century Lady Naturalist. Follow her on Twitter: @elizabethbastos

As I write this on August 29, 2012, my sister is in labor. This is her first child. Not to make this all about me, but by the end of the day today I will be an auntie–at least this is what I think I want to be called. Or tia. Tia E has a nice ring, doesn’t it? Or it sounds like something you have to be inoculated against. Either way, it is a role that is new to me. My bookshelf is full of mother issues, father issues, planetary issues, time travel, but there is no section yet labeled AUNT.

Being bookish, I turn to books for assistance with all of life’s milestones and this one is no different (I’m freaking out! My little sister, who in my mind is perpetually eleven, is going to be a mother and will finally understand what I’ve been going through the past seven years! I’m so excited!) so I’m re-reading the chapter in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time.

What other aunt books can you recommend, dear reader? Role models who are positive, not James and The Giant Peach aunts who are mean and bony and eventually get trodden by an overlarge piece of fruit. Aunts who are awesome. Who buy you stuff your mother wouldn’t, like Francie’s Aunt Sissy in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and teach you things.

Aunt Beast is a compassionate fuzzy octopus from another planet – exactly what I’m going for as Tia E. All my aunts are like this. Warm. Weird in a good way (one of my favorites is really in to birds and can call each one in bird language).

Aunts are a pleasant different weird, like the light the moon, a counterpoint to the intense blazing star of the sun of the love of mothers. Aunt Moon. That sounds really weird, and good as it calls to mind my favorite Greek, Artemis, goddess of the moon, the hunt, and birthing.