A New Mom’s Summer Reading List

summer reading

I was one of those kids who wiled away a lot of my summers at the library or with my nose in a book in any number of beautiful summer settings – treehouses, porches, tents. (To be perfectly honest, I also squandered much of my summer days in front of the TV. I grew up in the ’90s, after all.)

Anyway, one positive change I’ve been able to adopt somehow during the process of moving to a jungle-like old farm with a baby is reading more. I credit most of this to the fact that The Baby is still sleeping in our bed at night (shut. up.) and I can get about two 40 minute stretches of staying awake time before he really can’t go back to sleep without me. With daylight pressing through the curtains at 9 p.m., I’ve got some time to kill before I can fall asleep, and reading feels more soul-nourishing than endlessly scrolling through my phone. Plus, writing more (blogging) makes me want to read more, and reading motivates me to write more.

While I love reading, I’ve never been very good at keeping track of what I’ve read, the authors I I like, or what I want to read next. So to propel me to a more successful next library trip, I thought I’d do a rundown of what I’ve read over the past few months.

Before I get to the list, a small item of blogkeeping: I made a Facebook page for TLMB! I figure there’s no quicker way to lose Facebook friends (especially the dude variety) than incessant posting about things like childbirth and baby poop. So instead, people who like reading about childbirth and baby poop (ya weirdos) can follow me here. If you’re a regular reader and on Facebook, won’t you do me a solid and like my page? Leave me a comment below if you are a fellow mommy blogger with a Facebook page and I’ll happily return the favor. Thanks, friend.

Okay, onto the book list.

TLMB Moms Summer Reading List

What I’ve loved, and what to skip

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

This was my first foray back into reading after the birth of The Baby. Nothing like reading about post-apocalyptic, gut-wrenching loneliness to cure the baby blues, am I right? Really, though, I loved this book, and if one can find hope after the apocalypse, can’t one find hope that breastfeeding will eventually stop feeling like nursing a baby crocodile? The writing was beautiful, and while I did wake up The Husband because I was sobbing during one particularly sad scene, I woke him up because I was reading really late into the night because I could not put it down.

5 stars.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Have you heard of this book? Of course you have. No, I haven’t seen the movie yet. Yes, I know I am way behind on Oprah’s book list. Honestly I finally decided to read this book because I binge-listened to Cheryl’s podcast (along with Steve Almond, whom I’ve also never read) Dear Sugar, and while it is way more earnest, almost uncomfortably so, than any other podcast I listen to, they do have a seductive way with words and I decided I finally needed to read for myself about Cheryl’s heroin binge. This is another tearjerker, and while sometimes I find myself resisting the urge to eyeroll when Cheryl describes how she got a tattoo with her ex-husband to commemorate their marriage/divorce or how she chooses her new last name (come on), the earnestness I caught on her podcast is the same earnestness and committed jumping-in-head-first approach to life that makes her story so compelling. If you’re like me and haven’t read this yet, it’s worth crawling out from under your rock to check it out.

4 stars.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Okay. I’m starting to sense a pattern I didn’t notice before. I have been bellying up to books that are seemingly way too sad. Books I actively avoided because of their obvious ties to loss. After my pregnancy loss and throughout my pregnancy I couldn’t think about sad things because I didn’t think I was strong enough to handle them, and I didn’t want to even acknowledge that sad things happen. I guess I’m stronger now. Anyway, this has been my favorite book of the summer so far, in spite of the fact that the shortest description I can offer you is, “Kid’s dad died in 9/11. His grandma was a survivor of the WWII Dresden fire bombing. Adventure!” I really loved this book, though. And I only cried a little.

5 stars.

Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch

I love Rachel Dratch. Most recently I’ve loved her small part in Broad City. And yes, like the rest of America, I wondered with some chagrin at what happened to her after SNL. The beginning parts of this book felt very similar to Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please! (which I am just now remembering I also read… I love Amy, but this book didn’t hold a candle to Bossypants and is best reserved for an easy beach read… uh, 3 stars). Anyway, lots of “this is how my early comedy career went down” stuff, but when she gets into trying to date in her late 30s, the book gets better. I’m really glad I didn’t do any research on her or this book before I picked it up, because it was a really fun surprise (sorry, spoiler, but it’s in the GoodReads synopsis) that she became unexpectedly pregnant and had a baby! Yay, surprise mom book! Anyway, Rachel and Amy both fall short of Tina in their ability to move me or feel particularly insightful, but they are funny and charming and I will always root for them.

3.5 stars

It Sucked and then I Cried by Heather Armstrong

I picked this book up at the library because it sounded familiar, then I remembered I have been a sporadic reader of Heather’s blog, dooce.com, for awhile. I decided to read it with the embarrassingly aspirational perspective of a new and not particularly successful blogger who (though I will deny it to my ever-encouraging mother) will not die happy unless I publish a book. I like Heather’s blog. I think she’s really funny. Her book felt…like a bunch of blog posts. Like it could have used a lot more tightening up and thoughtful editing. Um, I didn’t even bother finishing it. I’m not trying to be a jerk, and yes, she’s the published blogger, but it made me feel reassured that I could write a book someday if she pulled it off. God, I’m a jerk. But meh.

2.5 stars

On that sour-grapesy sounding note, I will close for now. But I plan to do this every few weeks so you can keep up with my literary escapades. On my nightstand now: Baby Led Weaning (of course), The No-Cry Sleep Solution (also of course), Cannery Row (took a stack of my high school summer reading books from my childhood bedroom) and A Doubter’s Almanac, another random library pick-up that sounded pretty good.

What are you reading this summer? Anything I should pick up during my next library trip? (Parenting books, really sad novels (I guess), memoirs and classics I likely never picked up are all welcome suggestions.)

One last quick reminder to find me on Facebook and click the little pink picture below if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

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A New Mom’s Summer Reading List

4 thoughts on “A New Mom’s Summer Reading List

  1. I LOVE JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER and read Extremely Loud Incredibly Close a few years ago – thank you for the reminder. It really is a GREAT book. So so so sad (9/11 also is a really hard subject for me) but so good! Thanks for this list – I’ll have plenty of time for summer reading, right?

    Like

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