This time, one for my seemingly insatiable appetite for pregnancy and childbirth books and three normal person books.
The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger This is yet another really great pregnancy book. It’s a little light on the fetal development side, compared to many others, and also not as entertaining as my favorite, How to Have a Baby and Still Live in the Real World. It also focuses somewhat less on issues like clothing and dealing with nosy relatives, topics that are covered heavily in many other books. However, it has a great many strong points, including coverage of labor and childbirth that really shines. It covers dealing with changes in the body during pregnancy extensively, including pages of full-color photos of useful stretches and exercises. It covers care options in detail. Kitzinger is renowned for natural childbirth, but the coverage here is remarkably balanced: if you think you’ll need that epidural, she talks about the risks and benefits and when in labor it’s safest to use. She also includes the only description I’ve seen of exactly what the body does during labor, focused on what can cause pain and what type of pain it is. She also describes, with photos, positions to use during labor, and when the various positions are most useful or unhelpful. There’s a useful, if sad, section on dealing with the loss of a child, as well as a chapter on newborn care. Sprinkled throughout are birth stories, ranging from home to hospital births, as well as helpful photos of labor and families with their new babies. This books complements Ina May’s Guide very well, providing practical information to go with Ina May’s inspirational stories. It’s also a good basic pregnancy book, with information slanted more towards childbirth and preparing for it.
Playing James by Sarah Mason This book is British chick lit in top form – fluffy, sweet, and I even liked the character better than the Shopaholic’s Becky Bloomwood. Holly Colshannon is a journalist covering pet funerals for a small-town paper, when she gets a dubious promotion covering the crime beat. Her assignment: to shadow hunky detective James as he covers his beat. Only he hates journalists, and her klutziness keeps landing her in the hospital. And though he is really good-looking, Holly already has the perfect boyfriend, and James is due to be married in two weeks. This playful romp is a delightful summer read.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss Yes, this is on the best-seller list. And yes, it’s delightful. Truss is a punctuation stickler on the rampage, documenting with dry British humor the ever-increasing misuse of punctuation. If, like me, you wince at signs that say “X-MAS TREE’S FOR SALE” (what do the trees own? What letter was left out?), this book will strike a heart-felt chord. If, like the majority of people in the world, you are unsure of when to use “it’s” or “its”, this book’s clear and hilarious examples will soon clear up the matter for you. Or, you know, if you just enjoy laughing, you might like this one, too. Sticklers unite! Punctuation matters!
Night Swimming by Robin Schwartz Charlotte Clapp is stuck in a dead-end life: her mother has died, her best friend married Charlotte’s boyfriend and now seems to hate her, and she’s working a lowly bank job in a town with no place to go. She numbs herself with food, 100 pounds overweight. Then, her doctor tells her that she has cancer and only a year to live. This jolts her awake, and she promptly steals two million from the bank and heads out west to fulfill her fantasies before she dies. Of course, it’s a mistake, which luckily we find out at the beginning, though Charlotte doesn’t. In Hollywood, she buys a luxury apartment, and spends her days befriending an elderly neighbor and drooling over the handsome pool boy. Nights she spends swimming and looking at the stars, allowing for both deep inner reflection and lots of weight loss. Meanwhile, the hometown police are on her trail – will she lose everything she’s found? The beginning and end are a little improbable, and salvation through weight loss is a bit problematic for my inner feminist. (Be beautiful on the outside, and you will find enlightenment and true happiness!) In spite of these flaws, I found myself turning pages compulsively, rooting for this likeable character as she struggles to make her dreams come true.