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Category Archives: Review
What to Expect When You’re Expecting is iconic. It is the title of a movie. It was the book Hugh Grant was reading in “Nine Months.” It is the book everyone rushes out to buy the minute the test is positive. And it is absolutely the last book I would recommend buying a first-time parent. Speaking as someone who read it during my first pregnancy, it terrified the crap out of me.
When you find out you are pregnant, it is a big, scary deal, even with a planned pregnancy. You are growing a person. Everyone you know (and many you don’t) will suddenly recall horror stories about pregnancy and labour, and are compelled to share them with you in gory detail. In case you aren’t nervous enough, What to Expect will bring week by week hypochondria to the experience, telling you not only how big the baby is and how your body has changed, but also what horrible crisis can occur to you and your fetus this week! Preeclampsia! Placenta previa! Oligohydramnios!
Some doctor’s offices (including my own OB-GYN at the time) not only don’t suggest it as recommended reading, but in fact discourage expectant mothers from reading it. The authors are not medical doctors, and there is a lot in there that is questionable, including many iffy holistic treatments. Also, as a Canadian, this book is aimed at the US market, and our health care system and options are different enough that it makes a big difference.
Here are my recommendations for pregnancy books here in Canada, based on my own reading and experiences – please feel free to comment with your own recommendations:
Canada’s Pregnancy Care Book. This book was fantastic. A solid, reassuring book put out by the amazing pregnancy clinic at Mount Sinal Hospital that covers a wide range of topics and has lots of practical information. They don’t assume that you have a ton of money, and there are great tips for healthy eating and fitness during pregnancy that you can use even with a tight budget. They cover complications, but you are more likely to feel reassured by the information than alarmed. Good for both reading through from cover to cover, and for keeping on hand as a resource. This is my number one recommendation for first-time parents.
Canadian Medical Association’s Complete Book of Mother & Baby Care. If you know absolutely nothing about pregnancy or babies, this is the book for you (and me). I was the first of my friends to have a child, and I had literally changed one diaper in my life before my daughter was born. This book has step-by-step instructions and photos for all the things that people just assume you know. How to express breast milk. How to properly clean and change a baby. How a diaper shirt works. How to give a baby a bath (imagine trying to wash oiled jello that is actively trying to escape). This book is why my children are still alive.
The Mother of All Baby Books. This is a great book as a reference – it has really handy charts and a great list of resources and services. If I could get just those things, it would be perfect. The other parts I found more annoying, because the author is very pushy about some topics. It made for good practice in taking the advice I found helpful and ignoring the rest.
Cynthia Bond has written about how terrible human beings are in the most beautiful way possible. I never really needed to use the term “lush prose” until I read this book. The words are fat, and gorgeous, and paint a picture that you wish was not quite so vivid because Ruby is full of horror and misery, and a tiny bit of loveliness.
The story of Ruby is the story of a young black woman who tried to outrun her past, and found that it wouldn’t stay in the past. Mostly set around the time of the Washington Riots, a letter from a beloved friend reached Ruby, and she made the choice to return home to her small town. Once home, she found small minds, judgement, and secrets waiting to tear her down, and Ruby’s descent into mental illness is met with smugness and derision, not compassion. Many of the characters are just horrible, but Bond doesn’t let you have the satisfaction of completely despising them, because almost all of them have some horrible happening in their own past that twisted them – and it almost makes it worse, because they could maybe have been good people. Maybe.
Some of the characters are truly evil. I’m talking gag inducing, have to put the book down for a while evil. This book has child abuse, sexual abuse, and rape in it, and you should be prepared for that.
If you can manage it, read it. It is heart searing, dreadful, flashback prompting – beautiful. And there is a little hope for humanity in there, I promise.
Don’t be surprised if this starts showing up as required reading for English Literature classes. Wow. One of the most powerful books I’ve read in a long time.
If you love a good dystopian YA, Victoria Aveyard’s debut novel, Red Queen is for you. With a lot (and I mean a lot) of parallels to The Hunger Games & Divergent, the characters and plot twists make this read different enough to still be enjoyable, without feeling like you’re just reading on repeat. If you have read Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, this is like a weird parallel universe to that book.
Red Queen is a little more rooted in fantasy territory, and has a unique take on the dystopian theme. The nobility of Red Queen‘s world is distinguished by their innate ability to channel fire or electricity, or possess extreme strength or psychic powers. Their control over the lower class is absolute, who don’t possess any superhuman talents. Imagine the uproar when Mare, a girl of perfectly common blood, suddenly displays her own power – and no one’s surprise is greater than Mare’s.
I won’t get too deeply into the plot and spoil it, but there are some great twists, a little romance, lots of intrigue. Lots, and lots, of intrigue. Like baby Game of Thrones. If you have a teen who is looking for an entry to more sophisticated story lines, this is a good place for them to start.
This is clearly the start of a series – it should be a fun ride.
I think most diet books are bullshit, but Dave Asprey’s The Bulletproof Diet stinks more than most. At this time of year, a lot of people are coming into the bookstore for diet and exercise books, self help, “new year, new you” stuff. I had heard of Asprey’s “Bulletproof coffee with butter” (another one of his diet tips that helps you achieve “mental clarity”), and decided to have a look at what he was putting in the book – curious to see if it could possibly be as dumb as his coffee. It can.
The first page I flipped open to contained a weird rant about how garlic and onions are “Suspect” (the capitalization is his). He claims you need look no further for evidence of their evil than the fact that in the Koran, garlic and onions sprang from the cloven footprints of Satan. Yep, that’s right, the scientific reasoning is that obviously these are Satanic plants, so they will make you fat. He ranks all foods on his pseudo-scientific scale of toxic to bulletproof. Apparently he’s not a veggie person, and hey, raisins are toxic. Who knew?
He also wants you to skip breakfast, despite the many, many scientist who share an opposing view, because obviously he knows more than some “scientist” who went to “school.”
He has a handy-dandy line up of Bulletproof branded products that are even more expensive then the stuff at Whole Foods, so they must be extra good at weight loss! Of course he is only making these products out of the goodness of his heart, to help you lose weight! There is no profit-based motive here at all!
As far as I can tell, The Bulletproof Diet is your personal guide to malnutrition for you, and enrichment for Asprey. What a sleaze.
I am reading my (signed) copy of The Boundless right now. You know those perfect stories? Like Harry Potter, or The Princess Bride. Those books where the story transcends age brackets, genres, and is just perfect? This is that book. Give it to everyone as a gift – they’ll thank you. Would probably make an excellent chapter-a-night bedtime story with ages 9+. Do not leave adults off your gift list with this one. It has also won a few awards already, proving that my opinions on books are always right.