I haven’t read a book properly in about 5 years. There’s always been something else that I needed to do first, or if I tried to get stuck in to a good novel, my mind would wander to things that needed doing, people that needed seeing, and work that needed completing.
That has never been truer than being a new parent. If I’m not feeding/changing/playing with a River, it means he’s asleep and I’m catching up on pumping, sterilising, and tidying up, ready to do it all over again when he wakes up. But the truth is, even I can find 10 minutes to complete a chapter, and I know I feel better for it when I do. As a child/teenager I was rarely found without a book in my hands, using torches to read past my bedtime, and feeling blessed that I was able to read in a car without feeling sick. But somewhere down the line, life got in the way.
And then lockdown happened, and now *even* with a new baby, I’m running out of excuses not to pick up a new read. And with it being Maternal Mental Health Week, I’ve asked Jess and Lauren at @bookreccos to put together a small list of books that are easy to manage in bite size pieces around mum’ing, and will pop you into someone else’s world- if even just for a minute- allowing you to expand your horizons past your four walls.
Whilst we are unable to escape lockdown we have turned to reading for our escapism. Dorothy Gale wasn’t lying when she said, “there’s no place like home,” because when you’re safe and healthy in your own house with a book in your hands you can be transported into the lives and places the author takes you. We believe that finding these small pockets of escapism are even more important for parents who before lockdown may have taken their little one to visit family or to the park or the shops or anywhere to entertain their little one and just speak normal English to other adults about things other than when the child fell asleep or last fed! We appreciate that for parents the reading adventures may be more like a quick day trip rather than an all-inclusive two-week holiday and that you may only have five minutes here or there to find solitude (even if this is just on the loo!), therefore we are recommending books with short chapters, that are easy to put down and pick up and fall back into immediately from where you left off.
Paulo Coelho - Like the Flowing River
This is one of our favourite authors to turn to when a little perspective is needed. In this book, Coelho writes a series of thoughts and reflections, a mix of funny and poignant universal truths and life affirming inspirations. These bitesize stories are each only a couple of pages long, so a perfect book to open when you don’t have a huge amount of time to commit to reading. This book provides solid reminder throughout to appreciate the small wins and beauties of the every day - from toast that fell the right side up, to stopping to pause for a moment and take in the beauty of the ordinary every day; a tree, the song of a bird, a babies restful sleep. He’s an enchanting story teller and you will be able to dip in and out and pick up a new story (and lesson) with each sitting - our favourite is ‘How to Climb Mountains’.
Dawn O’Porter - So Lucky
A modern, witty and empowering novel following the lives of three women. Ruby cannot even look at herself in the mirror because of her condition, let alone hug her three year old too tightly, so is fully aware of the irony of her job photoshopping cellulite and wisps of hair for glossy magazine photoshoots that give women these insecurities in the first place. Beth, a wedding planner has scored the celebrity wedding of the decade so returns back to work straight after giving birth, leaving her husband to look after the baby- you’d think he would at least look at her or show her some affection! Lauren’s life looks perfect on Instagram but turns out she’s just as troubled as the rest of us! This book will have you physically laughing out loud as the three women’s stories collide. Hilarious, engaging and with short chapters so you won’t feel too guilty if you have to put it down for a bit.
Brene Brown - Daring Greatly
I guess the best place to start is by telling you the subheading of this book is ‘How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead’. Again, another perfect book for dipping in and out of, it’s broken down into short lessons, covering everything from ‘Wholehearted Parenting’ to ‘Looking Inside Our Culture of “Never Enough”’. Browns’ philosophies about vulnerability are powerful, she says “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage.” And it’s true, this book helps to retrain our mindsets from believing acts of vulnerability are forms of weakness, but instead are brave acts of courage, brave moments of showing our true selves. If you are ever feeling at a loss, or as though you are battling with failure, then we can’t recommend this book enough. It will soon dispel all of those myths and negative thoughts patterns, boosting you up with confidence to live a fuller and more meaningful life, one that’s true to who you are (and not who you think you should be)!
We hope that we are able to offer some light in what has been a long seven weeks locked down so far, we post daily book recommendations over on our Instagram @bookreccos with full reviews, (but absolutely no spoilers!) so please check us out and stay in touch.
Jess and Lauren of @bookreccos