If you’re a new mom, chances are good that you don’t have a lot of time to just hang out and read. The whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” thing sounds good in theory; in practice, it’s more like “eat/shower/brush teeth/maybe get dressed when the baby sleeps”—at least in the beginning. If you’re nursing, though, you may have chunks of time where you’re sitting on the couch feeding your child, and it can get pretty boring. If you’re one to read on an e-reader or your phone, or you have better book-balancing skills than myself, this allows you some time to read. Books helped keep me sane (or at least maintain a shred of sanity) during my first year of motherhood, and I remember reading my first book postpartum and being relieved that my brain hadn’t turned to mush. Here are five of the books I’d recommend to any new mom.
I first read this long before I became a mother, and even then, I knew there was something brave and true about this novel. Ari, a writer living in upstate New York, has a one year old and is still reeling from the birth of her son. A pregnant musician, Mina, moves to town, and being single, becomes friends with Ari. Albert writes about the isolation, boredom, and strain of motherhood, as well as the realities of birth not going as planned. The story looks, head-on, at the way our identities and lives get blown apart by motherhood, and what it looks like when you piece yourself back together. Now that I am a mother, I can say that this is one of the most honest pieces of fiction I’ve ever read on the subject.
What happens when motherhood isn’t the happy experience everyone says it is? In this novel, Lara James struggled for so long to become pregnant: IVF, miscarriages, months of trying – and when she finally does give birth to a healthy daughter, she thinks the struggle is over. Used to having order and control, the chaos of new motherhood throws Lara for a loop, and combined with sleep deprivation and postpartum depression, things get worse and worse. This isn’t an easy read: it’s raw and uncomfortable – but so important. Even if you haven’t experienced PPD, Sokol depicts early motherhood so well that Lara is easy to relate to.
There’s a good chance you’re already familiar with Bunmi Laditan. Her Facebook and Instagram posts are hilarious, depicting #realtalk about motherhood, and she’s also the author of the book called The Honest Toddler. Her newest book, a novel, looks at Ashley Keller, a “hot mess” mom in a world of Pinterest princesses. For anyone who’s ever looked at social media posts of friends showing perfectly dressed families with hashtags like #blessed, #twoundertwo, or #lovemylife and wanted to retch, this book is for you. I never laugh out loud at books, and I was snickering at this one. A great reminder that you’re doing just fine, mama.
Turner, who created the blog “The Unmumsy Mum,” is like Laditan in that she writes about motherhood even when it’s not pretty. She says things that perhaps you only whisper, or feel guilty just thinking. This book is based on her blog; a memoir of motherhood, uncensored and unabashed. Turner is every new mom’s best friend in this book – the friend you can tell anything to, and not worry that she’s judging you, because she’s probably said the same exact thing.
The subtitle of this book is “A bunch of holy-crap moments no one ever told you about parenting,” and oh my gosh it’s true. I read this before I became a parent and I laughed so hard at so many pages – even just thinking about it makes me want to reread the book again. Because really, kids can be jerks. But we love them anyway. Especially if they’re our jerks. What are your favorite books about motherhood?