I’m 26 pages into my book club’s selection for the month when I discover the novel is, in part, about finding a “cure” for infertility. Is there no escape? What the fruitcake?!
Miracle babies, a mother’s love for her child, a happy ending in the form of a pregnancy. Yeah, yeah, I get that the joys, challenges, and heartbreaks of parenting are parts of life. But they aren’t part of my life. And while I acknowledge that I am possibly a wee bit oversensitive when it comes to these topics, I am also feeling over-inundated by mommy-focused stories on the news, in magazines, in movies, and all around me. When it comes to the books that I choose to read, I should be able—and allowed—to avoid them.
So I’m returning this particular book to the library and debating whether or not to attend the discussion. Meanwhile, I need some suggestions for great reads. I like adventure, mystery, and history. I love a strong female heroine and a narrative that has some humor. I can get lost in stories that include travel, cooking, interesting characters, and challenges overcome. Fiction or nonfiction, I devour both.
There are two book groups in our Life Without Baby community, and I’ve taken note of their suggestions. Check them out at LWB Book Club and Book Lovers. Now I need yours. Read any good books lately? Let me try that again: Read any good books that have nothing to do with babies or mommydom lately? If so, give us your recommendations in a comment.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is wrapping up her memoir about being a temporary single mommy and how it helped her come to terms with being childfree (and the irony of this post is not lost on her).
I just finished reading The Hundred-Year-Old Man: Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. Loved it. None babies mentioned in the book.
I loved also Me Before You that I read lately. No babies either.
Yes, I am also careful what to choose to read.
I love to read too and haven’t been able to find a good book club. I end up reading, wishing i had someone to discuss them with, then search for discussions on line to satisfy my need. Anyway, here are a few of my favorites pieces of fiction: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas, The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. My favorite non-fiction are: No Death No Fear by Thicht Nhat Hahn, Living Buddha Living Christ by Thicht Nhat Hahn. Happy reading!
And I loved the novel The fault in our stars.
Recent reads that I liked a lot:
Priceless Memories, Bob Barker
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling
One of my all-time favorites:
The entire Hollows series by Kim Harrison. First book is called Dead Witch Walking.
Just was looking at my book shelf, and found another all-time favorite: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. Love the premise and the approach of this one.
Another fantastic recent read: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The author perfects the alternating perspectives approach to a novel. I’ve never read a book that did it this well.
Mrs. McIrish says
I just read Gone Girl this week and while it was good, there is mention of babies and IF…
I usually don’t mind if a book includes babies, IF, or motherhood in some context, as it is so difficult to fully escape from this. I appreciate all the suggestions above. I just hate it if it is overdone, forms the whole premise of the book, and ESPECIALLY if it includes lines that perpetuate the notion that life without this is meaningless. I second Gone Girl and the other Gillian Flynn books. Yes, there is IF involved and at one point critical to the plot, but it is not the entire premise of the book. I don’t know, this one didn’t affect me negatively IF wise. I liked The Help. There are certainly plenty of babies in that one, and there is a heart breaking subplot involving infertility, and it is not resolved with a baby = happy ending, but there is a resolution that I found heartwarming. Again, for me, the premise of the book was not about “have a baby and be happy”. For laughs and silliness, I liked reading the Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich (no babies). I really liked Diana Gabaldon’s Outlandler Series (again pregnancy and motherhood involved, but for me a worthy read). No babies in the Stieg Larson series, which I also really enjoyed. I’ll admit that I love a nice escapist romance and these are so full of babies… but not all. Sherry Thomas wrote a nice one, “Not Quite a Husband” (19th century). The heroine, a medical doctor, has what seems to be PCOS, and there is no miracle baby. It is not central to the plot, but it is addressed honestly. The story takes place partly in villages and countryside along the Hindu Kush mountains (Northern Pakistan).
Two memoirs that I liked recently, that involved boxes of Kleenex, were “Wave” & the memoir by Emily Rapp. Both stories involve surviving grief when they lose children but they speak to many issues I have felt on this journey of acceptance. I didn’t intend to read either book but I love both of their writing.
Another book I love is a novel that was written by a poet. It is called “fugitive pieces” by Anne Micheals. For a laugh out loud book, try “Stiff”.
I’m wondering if the book you were reading was Ann Patchett’s latest. I was not racing to read this because of the subject matter (that I had read about in reviews). But I was recently handed the book, and read it in less than 24 hours. I loved it – and felt that the whole “cure for infertility” thing was actually very secondary to the issues of characters, drug companies, etc. I loved it in the end, and was very surprised. So I’d recommend persevering – but only when you feel ready.
Otherwise – I’ve written elsewhere about losing my reading mojo, so will be keen to look at other people’s recommendations.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods says
Thanks for all the great suggestions, ladies! I’m excited to dive back in. Should mention that since I first wrote this I’ve read three great books I’d add to the list: “The Greater Journey” by David McCullough (nonfiction about Americans in Paris), “The Buddha in the Attic” by Julie Otsuka (novel about Japanese picture brides coming to San Francisco before WWII), and “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand (nonfiction about an Olympic runner who goes to war, survives a plane crash, then survives POW camp–the author wrote “Seabiscuit”).
My own reading tastes have leaned lately toward nonfiction. Some of my favorites are “My Life in France” by Julia Child, “Myrna Loy: The Only Good Girl in Holly wood” by Emily Leider, and ‘The Billionaire’s Vinegar” by Benjamin Wallace.
Jean M. Auel’s ‘Earth’s Children’ series. Strong female lead character. There is some mention of babies/motherhood but as part of life and survival. And being set in the times of the caveman there certainly is no IF.
When I read you were looking for “adventure, mystery, and history…. a strong female heroine and a narrative that has some humor” I immediately thought of Elizabeth Peters. Both her Amelia Peabody & Vicki Bliss series completely fit your bill. My sister & I have both been reading her novels since high school and adore her books (she also writes more thriller-type stuff under the name Barbara Michaels). Sadly, she is getting on in years & hasn’t had a new book out for awhile… but I live in hope. ; )
One of my most recent reads was “Into the Silence” by Wade Davis, about the 1920s attempts to conquer Everest. I reviewed it on my blog. It’s a huge thick book, full of details. I found it fascinating. Although I’ve never climbed a mountain, I found the theme of chasing after an impossible dream despite all the odds, and the price that sometimes get paid in the process, strangely familiar. ; )
If it was State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, then it’s 0ne of my favourite books of recent years (and I’m a bit sensitive); totally compelling – don’t be too put off.
Other good books are This Is How It Ends by Kathleen MacMahon: a super-sad romance sans babies (I was braced for a redemptive pregnancy and it never came). Also loved Me Before You: another sad romance where she could have thrown in a pregnancy but didn’t. The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty was really enjoyable. Turn of Mind by Alice Laplante was unputdownable but scared me, medically. Nightwoods by Charles Frazier is really good; involves kids but they’re adoptees, of sorts. For interesting women protagonists, Missy by Chris Hannan, Nina in Utopia by Miranda Miller, The Outlander by Gil Adamson and Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney were all brilliant.