books and babies

In many ways, my relationship with books is new. I have always read, but it wasn’t really  until the past few years that I began to decide to have a personal relationship with books. Before, in graduation school and before that, books were something that came with the territory.

They were given, assigned, and talked about, thought about on the terms of someone else. Now, in my life, there is no one there to make me read. So if I am to read, I must decide it for myself. I decide upon it and must commit to reading in the evening and morning hours because it’s something I want to do, something I need to do.

So, I do read. In my third pregnancy, I think I read a book every week. I did this by making reading the thing I did whenever I could. I did this by choosing to pick up titles on the way to storytime for my toddlers and by deciding that the story worlds captured, usually, so beautiful in my novels and memoirs was something worth having in my imagination and in my life.

I like books. Hardcovers with thick paper pages. I like their smell. I like to look at them and place notes in them.

I like that they can be picked up at will, that they want and need nothing from me and have no expectations.

Even with bland story lines, I like to finish my books, to close them and put them on a shelf. I do this because, if nothing else they offer a departure from my real life as a mother.

I like that they don’t bother my children and that when they see their mom read they get a chance to see me doing something that is for me, something I’d like for them someday, too.

STOP.

Right now I’m reading “Ambulance Girl” by Jane Stern. I had a baby last week, so finding the time and energy to pick it up an read it has been tough, but I am getting through the chapters, bit by bit. What are you reading? What have you read that you would recommend?

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One Response to books and babies

  1. Cecilia says:

    I love your description – that you are now building a relationship with books. That really is how I would describe the role of books in my life as well. I feel like I am coming into this late but I know it’s never too late. I think it’s a great thing to do and share once you have children, too.

    Are you enjoying Ambulance Girl? I will look that up. As you know I’m reading Americanah and Ahab’s Wife…good reading but not the lightest reading if you’re busy. It’s going a bit slowly for me so I need to do what you’re doing, which is to pick up my books whenever I can (ha, if only they weren’t so heavy! ;-)).

    As for book recommendations, here are some that I’ve read this year that I loved:

    *The Light Between Oceans – about a mother so desperate for a child that she “steals” one – quite the gripping story but very intense
    *Tiny Beautiful Things – a collection of “advice columns” on life and love by Cheryl Strayed
    *The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – how Johns Hopkins took the cells of a poor African American woman without the permission of her family and built a huge industry off of them
    *The Spark – A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius – real story of a mom who was told her boy would never talk (autism), who later became gifted in physics
    *Where’d You Go Bernadette – funny quirky story of a mother who disappears from her family. It’s a satire on suburban and well-to-do families, gossipy moms, etc.

    Let me know if you have any recommendations too!

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