I’m hyper aware that not all Mums have the time and not everyone enjoys it. Though even a few useful passages of a book can complement therapy beautifully. The last time I shared a reading list it was well received, so here’s what I’ve been reading and recommending lately.
Know that reading is work. It’s often romanticized as a passive task, but it’s not. Make no mistake about it, social media has also made it harder for our brains to read.
In sharing her experience of quitting Twitter, journalist Caitlin Flanagan wrote about feeling restless every time she sat down to read a book. Despite having always loved reading, despite having a bedroom piled high with books, she could never finish one. She wrote about how she began to query if we are in a ‘post-reading age’, or if reading loses appeal as we get older. Upon spending time away from Twitter, her insights became deeper: ‘And that’s when I realised what those bastards in Silicon Valley had done to me. They’d wormed their way into my brain, found the thing that was more important to me than Twitter, and cut the connection.’[i]
It might surprise you to learn that there were 10+ years post university where I pretty much refused to pick up a book. Eventually I decided that if I had time to read Instagram posts and wine labels…well, you get the idea!
in no particular order…
A good one for Mums (or anyone) who is in a rut. Going through life eating the same old meals, not really noticing colours, sounds, smells or experimenting with what fabrics you actually like to wear. I learned that my most neglected sense is taste and that there are so many small delights to be found in the day, if only we train ourselves to look for them.
It’s not anything to do with perinatal mental health or kids. I just like the sound of her voice. It’s warm and soothing and this book is a put-on-in-the-background and let it wash over you type experience. Tabitha has a popular YouTube channel where she makes vegan soul food. She’s so entertaining that even if you’re not into cooking it’s hard not to listen and just smile.
I read a bunch of John Marsden’s YA fiction books in Highschool, but I’d never read any of his non-fiction. Now that I have two kids in school I’m finding myself more curious about different educational philosophies.
I think it was in Take Risks where he says that tree climbing has been banned in many schools. I for one am very interested to see what risk-taking means as part of a healthy childhood post lockdowns. I don’t want to raise my kids in a world where climbing trees is banned.
I like reading about mothers from history who serve as examples of the fact that we can do hard things. Coretta spent her early mothering years navigating daily death threats, bricks through the window, and having her husband, Dr Martin Luther King frequently arrested.
It’s a difficult read at times, but it’s been one I pick up and read a few paragraphs on tough days.
It’s not useful or helpful to constantly compare ourselves to other mothers. Look around and you will always find someone who is doing it tougher than you. What can be helpful is to keep in mind a figure of strength and or nurturance – Oprah, Wonder Woman, Joann Jett – it doesn’t matter if it’s a ‘real’ person but you want to hold an image of them in your mind and sometimes just ask “what would they do in this moment? How would they cope?”
I’ve been waiting for a book like this. For someone who identifies as a health practitioner to also speak openly about their experiences with dissociation. If you’re looking for someone a bit more relatable and a bit less ‘pale male’ in the trauma space, Jamie is someone to watch. Her work spans EMDR therapy with expressive arts, music, dance, yoga and more.
Dissociation is an experience we all have along a continuum. It’s part of the trauma picture that often gets overlooked.
Other books I often recommend to clients
These are just 3 books that I come back to again and again because I know other people have found them helpful
I wish this book was part of those Bounty Bags new parents receive in hospital. I wish every GP and mental health practitioner would read this book. Hormones, sleep, nutrition, vitality and so many other parts of health play a part in mental health. I often feel frustrated by how limited Psychologists are to speak with mothers about nutrition and holistic care. It’s no shock that your brain can’t do good mental work on half a piece of dry toast and 2 hours sleep. However, exhausted Mums often need practical guidance, and so this book is one of my ‘Bibles’ in my practice.
A newer one on my rotation. I’ve noticed how embarrassed, sheepish and blank people are when I ask them what they do for fun. Finding what gives you delight, true joy and something to look forward to each day is part of a life well lived. This book might help you figure out how to figure out what’s the missing piece.
also known as
Calm Parents, Happy Kids (UK adapted version)
We yell when we are depleted (are you hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?) and when our needs aren’t met. Learning to stay in the present moment and switch on our adaptive, adult brain and turn off our emotional, wounded child brain is a continual practice.
You don’t need to be perfect, but sometimes having the words for what you want to say written down can help. This book has lots of helpful snippets for understanding and communicating difficult emotions and behaviours – yours and your child’s.
Thanks for joining my unofficial book club! Hope there was something useful in that list