Sunday, September 23, 2018

On the Bookshelf: A Postpartum Reading List

Hi, everyone! As I've been stuck under the baby quite a bit this past month, I've been reading a lot. Some of the books I've picked up are really deep and profound and/or lengthy and have taken me weeks or months to get through. Other books only took a few days and were much lighter fare. 

So, let's chat literature! I'm also linking up with Carolyn Astfalk for An Open Book, so please head on over there to get more book recommendations! 



The Power of Silence Against the Dictatorship of Noise, by Robert Cardinal Sarah. WOW. This book is amazing. In this book-length interview, Cardinal Sarah drops tons of wisdom and profound insights and reflections regarding the importance of interior silence in our lives. There is so much good stuff here to meditate on. It was just good, so good. I also really appreciated reading Cardinal Sarah's thoughts on the liturgy, especially since he's from Guinea and obviously has more insights into African culture than myself. While Cardinal Sarah comes at the topic from a Catholic standpoint and discusses the liturgy and sacraments, I do think there is much in here that non-Catholics can draw from regarding silence and one's relationship with God.  This was a beautiful book and I highly recommend it!!!

An Immovable Feast: How I gave up spirituality for a life of religious abundance, by Tyler Blanski.
This is a fantastic memoir about Blanski's journey from Evangelical Christianity to the Anglican Church to the Catholic Church. Even though I'm younger than the author and grew up Catholic my whole life, I could relate to or be very familiar with some of his experiences and references of 90s youth group culture and the like. I enjoy Blanski's very poetic writing style, and I found his journey really interesting. I particularly was intrigued by his reflections on being Anglican. I'm pretty na├»ve about the ins and outs of the Anglican and Episcopalian churches, and I had been unaware of just how much division there is (previously, I thought that all the Anglicans were in communion with each other). I also found it fascinating to read about Blanski's process of preparing to plant an Anglican church, since I have a couple of non-Catholic friends who have been involved in similar processes recently. I greatly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it to Catholics and non-Catholics who want to learn more about the Catholic faith, the Anglican church, or just love reading spiritual memoirs in general :) 


Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance.
This is a memoir about Vane's life growing up in Kentucky and Ohio Rust Belt cities. As he introduces the reader to his family and heritage, he helps us see glimpses of the hillbilly mindset and way of life. We see the strength and courage, as well as the problems and shortcomings. With honesty, Vance talks about his struggles growing up and about how he worked his way through Yale. I really liked this book. I found it really interesting, and I wish that I would have known about it and read it during college, because it probably would have helped me better understand the lifestyle and mindsets of my neighbors and those I encountered around town. There is quite a bit of crude and profane language in this book (particularly in the dialogue), but it does give an accurate image and portrayal of life in some of the Rust Belt cities. 


The Habit of Being, edited by Sally Fitzgerald. This book is a collection of letters by author Flannery O'Connor, and it is awesome. The volume is very large, and easy to pick up, read a few letters, and put down (which is what I did over the past several months). The letters range from lighthearted words about peacocks to businessy discussions about book publications to deep reflections on Catholicism. Sometimes, all of these topics are touched on in one letter! I already liked Flannery O'Connor, but as I read these letters I grew to appreciate her even more. I highly recommend this book to any fan of Flannery O'Connor. There is a lot of good stuff to reflect on in here (you can read some of my thoughts on her words-especially as they can fit with our current crisis-here). 

Cornelia and the audacious escapades of the Somerset sisters, by Leslie Blume.
This was a whimsical piece of juvenile fiction about Cornelia, and 11-year-old girl who is sick and tired of only being seen as the daughter of a famous pianist. Living with her acclaimed mother in New York City, Cornelia escapes from her rather sad and lonely life through words. She pores over dictionaries, learning long and complicated words to use as methods to end conversations, which I found hilarious and awesome. Cornelia's life changes when rather colorful and somewhat eccentric new neighbors move in. This book was an utter delight to read. It made me think of how much I enjoyed the stories of Pippi Longstocking as a little girl. I definitely recommend it :) 


The Shoemaker's Wife, by Adriana Trigiani. This lovely novel follows Enza and Ciro as they spend childhood and formative teenage years in early 20th century Italy. Their lives intertwine at different points as they face tragedy and later on meet each other in the U.S.A. This was a rich story about family, the process of immigration, and love. It was a really sweet book for the most part. I was pretty sure that the order of the Mass as presented in one scene was incorrect, or it seemed that way at least. Also, while I am a feminist and appreciated the strong female lead in the story, there were times when the feminist commentary seemed a little too preachy for me. Overall though, this was enjoyable! 

Oh Crap! Potty training, by Jamie Glowacki. I don't read parenting books very often, and I hadn't been planning to read up on potty training for at least several months. I'd heard about this book from different people and ignored it, but the other week a friend of mine told me about using this book-and then my husband started talking about wanting to potty train our toddler. SO...I read this book. And I became really convicted. The author completely blew some of my preconceived notions to pieces, but a lot of her views made tons of sense to me. Some of her stances really resonated with my instincts. I disagreed with her in places (and she is very strongly opinionated, but makes it clear that many things are her opinion from her work as a potty training expert), but that's typical for pretty much every parenting book I've read. What I really loved about this book was that the author clearly addresses how every child is different and learns differently. So this isn't a one-day method. It's not a three-day method. It's not a four-week method. It focuses on blocks of learning, and you walk through those blocks at your child's pace. She goes into potty training regarding daycares, adopted children, and kids with special needs. She goes into tons of troubleshooting. She does use some very strong language (including the f-word), so don't let your kids read this. But if you are planning to potty train at all in the next couple years, I recommend picking up this book! 

The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp. I picked this up at my midwife's recommendation, and it was okay. Some of the techniques it presented have been helpful, but this just wasn't my favorite parenting or baby book out there. I also just couldn't stand how the author kept insisting that "some people do all of these things and they don't work because these people aren't using my magical formula of the exact order and method of these practices" and that just rubbed me the wrong way. So, I guess I liked gleaning some stuff from this book but there are probably other resources about soothing babies that would appeal more to me. 

There you have it! Have you read any of these books? As always, if you have any recommendations please let me know-I love reading a wide range of literature :) 

10 comments:

  1. Love, love, love these posts. I’m with you on The Power of Silence, an Immovable Feast, and Cornelia. I’m so glad you liked her. She was just delightful. I’m off to update. Y Goodreads list with all your recommendations. And we will probably start potty training soon, so, well, oh crap.

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    1. Thank you so much for recommending Cornelia!!! It was such a joy (and it was also a nice break from my heavy reads). Good luck with potty training! I'm kind of regretting not doing it prior to this baby coming out (I convinced myself that I didn't want my toddler to have regressions so it'd be better to wait until we had a newborn), but I'm sure it will all work out anyway.

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    2. I put the potty training book on hold, but honestly, with as terrible as our first two experiences were, I’m not in a rush. It’s been my experience that forcing it is a terrible idea and that when the kiddo decides it’s time, then it goes so much more smoothly. Check out the Julia and the Art of Travel by the same author as Cornelia. It is equally delightful, while being a little heavier. Thoroughly enjoyed. And are you on Good reads? If so, we need to be friends - it’s a great way to track your reading and get recommendations from people!

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    3. I'm sorry to hear that the first two experiences were not that great. Hopefully this time will be smoother, especially since your older girls can probably help out a bit.

      That book sounds delightful! Adding it to my library list :) I'm not sure if I'm on Goodreads. I think I made an account once, maybe? I should probably check and figure it out, because I'd probably use it a lot.

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  2. Oooo, I think I'd like that Cornelia book! Even though my youngest is 16 and I no longer volunteer in the school library, I love a good middle-grade or YA book every now and again!

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    1. You should read that Cornelia book! Sometimes, a whimsical middle-grade book is a great and refreshing change from deep and heavy books.

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  3. What a great list! I've heard a lot about your first three books. I want to make a point of reading Cardinal Sarah's book at some point.

    I finally got the youngest child out of Pull-ups last year, and can say with conviction that I hated potty training every single time. All in all, Dr. Sears' books about pregnancy, birth, nursing, and baby care resonated with me the most. There were a couple sleep books that I liked. In the end, going with my instincts always seemed the best bet.

    Thanks for linking up! So much fun to see what everyone is reading!

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    1. Congratulations with being beyond the potty training stage with your youngest. That's so exciting. And thanks for mentioning Dr. Sears' stuff-I know I've read some excerpts of one of his books, maybe a whole book? Perhaps I should revisit Dr. Sears sometime.

      I hope you are able to get to Cardinal Sarah's book! It is so rich and profound, and it was really perfect for me to pick up during this period of crisis in the Church-it was a great reminder to steep myself in prayer and try to achieve interior silence when the world is so noisy and tumultuous.

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  4. I've not read Dr. Karp's book, but I remember watching a video he made shortly after Amaris was born (my OB recommended it). A few things from it were helpful.
    Thanks for the summaries of the other books. I've been reading a lot lately because I have the time available while nursing. :-)

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this! Yes, reading while nursing is so lovely! Though I'm finding it difficult at times to read much because my toddler usually wants me to read to him (which is also wonderful, though I do love it when I get a chance to read my books!).

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