By August 22, 2018 1 Comments Read More →

Maternity Reads

Although I’ve certainly experienced my fair share of reading ruts, I’m currently in a completely different and fabulous reading season. For the past few months, I’ve read so many books, all for a wonderful reason: I’ve been out on maternity leave. 

Please don’t hate me if you are the parent of a very young child who thinks this sounds impossible. It was certainly not the case for me with my first two. This time around, I credit my reading list to a very low-key baby, the realization that I should be checking e-books out of the library to read on my phone, and reading during every spare moment. I keep joking that I’m going to write a parenting book called “How to Parent Your First Child Like It’s Your Third,” except that no one would actually follow the advice.

I’ve been much more focused on this maternity leave, as we intend this to be our last child. I’ve found myself more aware of what’s going on around me, more mindful, and less overwhelmed with exhaustion. (There’s something to be said for knowing this time is fleeting, and that I will sleep through the night sometime in the future.) Image result for every last one anna quindlen

In spite of the aforementioned exhaustion, I have very clear reading memories tied to past pregnancies and to those early months with a new baby. While pregnant with my first, I read Anna Quindlen’s Every Last One. I can remember the experience clearly, can even visualize my hand picking that book off the shelf in our old apartment. I can’t say too much without spoiling the book, but the reading experience was intense. This would not be the book I would choose for that moment in time if I had to do it all over. But I remember so many distinct details of the story that I’m sure I would have forgotten if I’d read it during a different time of my life. 

I chose Every Last One randomly, but I’ve often planned my reading for times of heightened emotions. For our wedding and honeymoon, I packed my bags with Alice Hoffman novels. Something about the bits of magic that make their way into her work, particularly her early novels, seemed perfectly suited to that time in my life. (Plus, I was able to find small mass market copies at a used bookstore that made easy packing in my suitcase and carried nicely in the purse I had on my wedding day.) I knew I would remember what I was reading  and wanted to make sure the tone fit.

When I realized I was in labor with my second child, I was reading E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars. If I’d known that my son would arrive almost four weeks early, I might have chosen something more uplifting. I have a clear memory of reading Tana French’s The Secret Place while out on leave with this second baby. He had fallen asleep on my bed and I didn’t dare move him, so I sat beside him for the length of his nap reading with the sun shining in my bedroom window. In fact I read (or re-read) all of French’s books during that time.

Image result for we were liars

I’m curious to see what will be the book takeaway this time around round. I’m not sure that I’m a good judge in the moment of what might stick with me. Will it be An Ember in the Ashes or its follow-up, A Torch against the Night? I found both of these Sahaa Tahir novels so compelling that I read them sitting by the tub as my older two splashed. 

More likely, I will recall the books that made me think about what it is to be a parent: Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale, Lisa Thompson’s The Goldfish Boy, Brit Bennett’s The Mothers, and Megan Abbott’s You Will Know Me. Or perhaps Laurie Frankel’s This is How It Always Is, a book I’m enjoying so completely that I’m at war with myself about whether or not to read through as quickly as possible or savor each chapter. Will it be the book that packs the biggest emotional punch or the one that hits at the heart of the season that will come to mind in a few years when I reflect on the time I spent with new baby? Only time will tell. I’m curious to know if others can relate. Are there certain titles that instantly conjure a particular moment in your life?

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About the Author:

Gundry Rowe is a K-8 librarian at Walt Disney Magnet School in Chicago, IL. She is National Board Certified in Library Media and has been working in children’s bookstores and libraries since she was 16. Although she prefers to balance reading kids' chapter books with books for adults, instead she finds herself reading Little Blue Truck for the 57,000th time to her two little boys.

1 Comment on "Maternity Reads"

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  1. Keir Graff says:

    Great post, Gundry. I love the idea of a book called “How to Parent Your First Child Like It’s Your Third”!

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