I love Katherine Center's writing, so it was such a treat to meet her last year at Mom 2.0 Summit. She is warm, welcoming, lovely, and creative, and probably the only person (aside from Laurel) who I have allowed to mark up my person (she painted the word "awesomeness" on my arm during our first meeting). For today's four favorites guest post (sadly, the last in the series!), I asked Katherine to share four favorite books -- books that are excellent in quality yet easy enough to absorb while in the trenches of nursing and sleep deprivation.
What I didn't expect about becoming a mom was how much it would change what I wanted to read.
I could have predicted that it would mean reading less, at least at first, in the thick of things. And I could have predicted that I'd want books that weren't too challenging for my exhausted eyes -- and body, and brain.
But what really changed was what I was willing to read about.
Because now, as a mom, there are a lot of places I just don't want to go. I don't do nihilism anymore, for example. Or ennui. I don't want to read about people who get kidnapped, beaten, or chopped into tiny pieces.
For a while, I thought this made me a wimp. But then I decided that I don't want to read about hopeless things right now because I'm working so hard to go in the other direction. Raising children is an inherently hopeful activity. You have to believe that there's a chance, at least, that things will be okay. You have to believe that people can rise above their struggles and become wiser for them. You have to believe in the power of human kindness and connection.
That's not to say that I want to read false, cotton-candy versions of life, either. I just want the hope to outweigh the despair.
With that in mind, here are five recommendations for reading for moms. Books that won't hurt your eyes or your brain, that will make you laugh, and that will possibly even say something true enough to inspire you.
1. Persuasion by Jane Austen. Delicious, page-turning, romantic, and smart. Nobody beats Jane Austen for insights about womanhood, and this book will take you to a place both nothing -- and also exactly -- like your life.
2. Naked by David Sedaris. David Sedaris is the king of making you laugh, cringe, and cry all at once. He is bitterly funny and unceasingly honest. Naked features essays about his visit to a nudist colony.
3. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. In this, my favorite of all his books, out-of-shape Bryson decides to hike the Appalachian Trail with an even-more-out-of-shape old high school pal. It's funny as hell -- and informative, too -- but the heart of the book lies in the relationship between the two friends as they try to rise above their limitations.
4. The Big Love by Sarah Dunn. Chick-lit as it ought to be -- funny, fast, sharp and spare. Sarah Dunn can really write.
5. Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. A book all moms should read. Lamott is brutally honest about the joys and agonies of life with a baby. There's nothing more comforting than other moms who can tell it like it is.
Fantastic recommendations, no? I sent Jon to The Book Rack with this list and he came back with A Walk in the Woods, which I promptly devoured (Bryson is a smart and very, very funny writer), and I can't wait to read the rest of Katherine's recommendations. And of course I also think you should read Katherine's books: The Bright Side of Disaster, Everyone Is Beautiful, and Get Lucky. You can also follow Katherine on Twitter at @katherinecenter.