Books I Read in May & June

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With a 5,000 word essay to write, and ‘pregnancy brain’ affecting my concentration, I have not read as much as I’d like to recently.

I found that over the last couple of months, I have fallen back on my bad habit of starting a lot of books and not finishing them!

The books I had set aside to read during May and June are still out, most of them with bookmarks halfway in. But I am slowly making my way through them, and I am thoroughly enjoying them! So I thought I would share them with you, and let you know my thoughts so far…

Books I Read in May & JuneI can do an update when I do the next book review post, as now that my essay is completed and freezer is stocked, I am now simply in the ‘waiting game’ period of pregnancy, and find myself with much more time to read!

And so, here are the

Books I Read (or am Reading!) in May & June

Husband Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley, M.D.

I actually bought this for my husband, but I decided to read it (or at least, parts of it) myself when it arrived, and I’m glad I did. It’s a very comprehensive guide to natural childbirth, and makes it slightly easier to see how to achieve this in a hospital/birth centre setting than Ina May’s Guide does (although if you would like to try for a natural childbirth, I still really recommend giving Ina May’s book a go).

Although I have skim-read some parts and have not finished the book, I so enjoyed the first- and second-stage of labour sections, and found them so practically helpful, that I fully intend to read some of the later parts (especially on postpartum) as well.

This is a book written for husbands, and is probably the most helpful and comprehensive I have seen in this area, but it is useful for wives, too, and it is worth looking past the cheesy 80s cover to the goldmine of information inside.

Prayerfully Expecting by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

When I first found out I was pregnant, I found a couple of nice printable journals and such online that I thought might be nice to use for this time. However, none of them really captured me or seemed to stick. I came across this one only a couple of months in, and decided to buy it, as it sounded much more like what I was looking for.

It didn’t disappoint. I have been reading and praying through this throughout my pregnancy, and have only just finished it. Donna-Marie guides you through the whole process, using prayers, novenas, and some amazingly inspiring quotes from Blessed Mother Teresa (the book was inspired by a conversation with her) and St John Paul II. It was wonderful to be guided so easily in praying through my pregnancy, especially at times when sickness and pains have made it a little more difficult to remember the blessing that it is.

Donna-Marie includes sections throughout the book for you to journal in, and it is really nice to be able to put into words some of your thoughts and prayers and emotions during this time. I look forward to being able to look back over this in years to come and recall what the experience of pregnancy has been like for me.

This book is it’s very own little time capsule, as well as a loving and patient spiritual guide. I wouldn’t hesitate to use it again in future pregnancies.

Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

Although I have now read most of it, this book has been a ‘dip-in-and-out’ one for me. It is the ‘manual’ written by Bea Johnson of the Zero Waste Home blog on the lifestyle she embarked upon a number of years ago when she decided to try and make her home “zero waste”. Amazingly, it worked – the Johnson family now produce only 1 litre of waste per year!

This book is a step-by-step guide based around the principle of the ‘5 Rs’: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot. In that order. This is not a book about recycling – it’s a book about changing your life and the future of the planet for the better, by simplifying.

I love the concept of the book, and the fact that it is something that the author is actually doing and making work! I particularly like the practical way it is laid out – it deals with your waste room by room, which is wonderful to help you not feel overwhelmed. Some of the ideas are extreme, and not all of them work for everyone, but Bea’s non-judgmental style is wonderful, and she helps you to realize that you don’t have to do it all! As she herself says:

“This is not a book about achieving absolute Zero Waste… Zero Waste is an idealistic goal, a carrot to get as close as possible. Not everyone who reads this book will be able to implement all that I mention or be able to go as far as reducing his/her yearly household waste output to the size of a quart jar, as my family has.”

And that is exactly what this book is for. To get you “as close as possible” within the possibilities and parameters of your own life, little step by little step. I don’t think I will ever get to where Bea has got, but I am certainly willing to do my bit to protect our planet’s future a little more, and to help simplify our family’s life and home.

Everyone should read this book. Seriously. Everyone.

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

I did actually finish this, and thoroughly enjoyed it. As I said when reviewing The Light Fantastic, if you’ve not tried reading Discworld novels before, it is really worth it! I have only relatively recently discovered the series, but have made my way through 4 of them very quickly now (I have not read them in order, but it doesn’t seem to matter).

You can often find copies of these books in charity shops or cheap used & new on Amazon, and they keep you laughing – great relaxation books when you need an escape.

This ended up being termed my ‘bath book’, as when I soothe my achey pregnant muscles at the end of the day in a nice lavender bath, this has been my companion. Now that I have finished it, however, I have discovered a new fictional delight to accompany me…

Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris

I first read Chocolat when my mother lent me her copy 5 or 6 years ago. I was instantly captivated. Joanne Harris has an amazing way with words – her words are lyrical, singing the words to you as you read, and she really understands the language of food! I devoured Chocolat again and again, along with its sequels (almost as good!): The Lollipop Shoes and Peaches for Monsieur le Curé.

Joanne Harris rapidly became one of mine and my mum’s favourite authors, so when we saw that she would be speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival in March this year, we rushed to get tickets. She was just as wonderful to listen to and interact with as in her writing, and we had a wonderful time. What surprised us, however, was that although she was there to speak about her new novel, The Gospel of Loki, we both left the seminar with the desire to read a different book of hers: Blackberry Wine.

She had told the story of how the novel had come about through her grandparents’ story of love and wine with such beauty and intensity, that we were both instantly taken with it. So when I found the book for £1 at a National Trust property bookshop, I bought it immediately and have been racing through it ever since!

It is a beautiful tale of food and wine, family and love, magic and literature, and of course, France. No Joanne Harris story ever seems as complete without her delightful (and amazingly accurate) descriptions of village life in France. I have yet to find a book of hers that has let me down…

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