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Pickle Me This

May 24, 2011

Pickle Me This's Motherhood Library

Pregnancy Books:
Bear With Me: What They Don’t Tell You About Pregnancy and New Motherhood by Diane Flacks
How to Get a Girl Pregnant by Karleen Pendleton Jimenez

Birthing Books*:
Great Expectations: Twenty-Four Stories about Childbirth by Dede Crane and Lisa Moore (eds)
Birthing from Within by Pam England
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
(Cannot vouch for the second and third book, as I had a scheduled c-section. But was definitely all right with the c-section on account of having read the first book, and I will never forget Stephanie Nolen on Ina May Gaskin, ever. So funny and made me feel better in retrospect)

Books About New Motherhood:
A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother by Rachel Cusk
Making Babies by Anne Enright
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

Books About Babies/Motherhood/Parenthood

The House With the Broken Two: A Birth Mother Remembers by Myrl Coulter
Nobody’s Mother: Life Without Kids by Lynn van Luven
Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood by Shannon Cowan, Fiona Tinwei Lam, and Cathy Stonehouse (eds.)
Motherhood and Blogging: The Radical Act of the Mommy Blog by May Friedman and Shana L. Calixte (eds.)
Reading Magic by Mem Fox
The Philosophical Baby by Alison Gopnik
The Big Rumpus by Ayun Halliday
Between Interruptions: 30 Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood by Cori Howard (ed.)
Dream Babies: Childcare Advice from John Locke to Gina Ford by Christina Hrdyment
Mother Knows Best: Talking Back to the Experts by Jessica Nathanson and Laura Camille Tuley (eds.)
Pathologies by Susan Olding
The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood by Rachel Power
What Mothers Do by Naomi Stadlen (this book is deeply troubling, by a writer with no understanding of maternal ambivalence. Which is too bad because I think ambivalent mothers would benefit most from the book, which explains how those tedious, dreary early days are so important, and so absolutely full of doing, but we just fail to recognize it and credit mothers for it).
365 Activities You and Your Baby Will Love

A Big Storm Knocked it Over by Laurie Colwin
Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins
A Large Harmonium by Sue Sorensen


Joy is So Exhausting by Susan Holbrook
Hump by Ariel Gordon
Sweet Devilry by Yi-Mei Tsiang

Books About Sleep (aka The Trajectory of a Downward Spiral)*
The Baby Whisperer
The No-Cry Sleep Solution
Dr Sears’ Nighttime Parenting Book
*Note that none of these books did me any good, except the Dr. Sears’ book and only because it gave me permission to keep not doing anything. One day my daughter just learned how to sleep, without a book, even.


“If she feels disoriented, this is not a problem requiring bookshelves of literature to put right. No, it is exactly the right state of mind for the teach-yourself process that lies ahead of her. Every time a woman has a baby she has something to learn, partly from her culture but also from her baby. If she really considered herself an expert, or if her ideas were set, she would find it very hard to adapt to her individual baby. Even after her first baby, she cannot sit back as an expert on all babies. Each child will be a little different and teach her something new. She needs to feel uncertain in order to be flexible. So, although it can feel so alarming, the ‘all-at-sea’ feeling is appropriate. Uncertainty is a good starting point for a mother. Through uncertainty, she can begin to learn.” –from What Mothers Do by Naomi Stadlen (who I quote because in this, she got at least one thing right)

9 thoughts on “Pickle Me This's Motherhood Library”

  1. Beth-Anne says:

    Great list! I have just forwarded to a group of expecting soon-to-be mothers.

  2. m says:

    The Sears pregnancy book was really the main book that I read before giving birth the first time and found it invaluable. I stopped reading baby manuals around the time my eldest was nine months. I’d suggest parents-to-be to *not* read any of the sleep manuals. Ultimately they are all bullshit. You do what works for best for your family and your child at the time. It will change. Promise. 🙂

    Do you want some kids books suggestions?

  3. Nathalie says:

    I loved _Your Pregnancy Week-by-Week_. I found Penelope Leach to be a sensible teacher about all things baby. Heartily endorse _A Life’s Work_ and _Operating Instructions_. And _Pathologies_. And _Between Interuptions_, which is how I met the other 3 of 4mothers. You might add _Arlington Park_ by Rachel Cusk for fiction, but that’s a list that could go on and on and on.

  4. Steph says:

    Great list. I just picked up Karen Figes’s Life After Birth: What Even Your Friends Won’t Tell You About Motherhood and am interested to learn what I wasn’t told.

  5. Kerry says:

    Perhaps I will write the book, “After Birth: What You’re Even Unwilling to Admit to Yourself About Motherhood”.

  6. Nathalie says:

    Where’s the “like” button?

  7. Sara says:

    One more for your fiction list: Hey Yeah Right Get a Life by Helen Simpson. Brutally good.

    1. Kerry says:

      Thanks, Sara. The Toronto Public Library doesn’t have a circulating copy. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it in the stores.

  8. Sara says:

    Okay, I’m notoriously bad about getting things in the mail but can send my copy to you. I think I already promised you the new Henry book, didn’t I? Can’t remember if you sent me an address for that but you can email me at 123oleary at

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