What to Read: On Maternity Leave

About a week after my son was born, humorist David Sedaris's new book Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls came out, and a few weeks later, comedian Jim Gaffigan's Dad is Fat was released. Serendipity?  I think so. 

Those few weeks were harder than I could have ever imagined they would be. My son wasn't gaining weight or sleeping. I wasn't making enough milk...or sleeping. I was exhausted and sad and overwhelmed, and I decided I was going to read. And reading helped. Reading helped me laugh out loud when postpartum hormones and feelings of inadequacy were mostly making me cry. And when I really wanted to go to sleep, reading helped me stay attached to the pump for those extra minutes that would hopefully stimulate my milk production. So if you are a reader, I would suggest downloading some samples onto your iPad or dropping by your library or book store before the big day. You never know when you'll need the company of a good book.
There are two types of books that I believe make great company for new moms who want to read. (If you don't want to read, by all means, now is the time to online shop and watch endless hours of HGTV without feeling the least bit guilty. I did a lot of that too.) 

1. Humor Vignettes 
2. YA Fantasy

Why Humor Vignettes? First of all, I don't believe this is a technical term, but it seems to best categorize the books I am going to recommend. I consider Humor Vignettes those non-fiction books that are written in about 2-5 page chunks. You can easily read for three minutes at a time and still get through a whole chapter/vignette, and they always make you chuckle. All of the titles below rock, but I would have to say as a new parent, Dad is Fat had me laughing and reading out loud to my husband on almost every page.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Bossypants by Tina Fey 

Also, all of these people are self-deprecating. For some reason, that works for me.

Billy Crystal's Still Foolin' 'Em is next on my list.

After I got through those rough first weeks, I found myself pumping any time that my little man was sleeping.  There's not a whole lot I was able to do while pumping, and I found myself reading a series that my students had been enjoying over the last year, Divergent by Veronica Roth, which falls into the pop-cultural phenom genre of YA Fantasy. And when I thought about it, YA Fantasy seemed like a perfect genre for maternity leave reading.

Why YA Fantasy? Well, the fantasy part will help you escape to worlds where people are taking on tasks almost as magical and terrifying as taking care of a newborn... and possibly make you a bit more excited about waking up in the middle of the night. I read these when I was pumping at 2 am, and I found I would pump those recommended extra minutes after my milk had stopped just to find out what would happen next in the book. I think the YA (young adult) part is important because these aren't as dense as books written with adult vocabulary in mind. Perfect for the middle of the night, sleep-deprived mind!  Also, they are all series, so if you like one, you have your next 2-6 books lined up.

Divergent by Veronica Roth (super cheap, like $3.99, as e-books)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Harry Potter and the... by J. K. Rowling 

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Also, I figured the middle of the night is a great time to re-read too.  The Hobbit is one of my all-time favorites, and I had been wanting to re-read the Harry Potter series.

Do you have any other suggestions for maternity leave reading?

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