Summer reading

I was really envious of other moms when I heard about the great books or movies they were able to enjoy while breastfeeding. I had a very matter of fact little baby who didn't spend anymore time nursing than he needed to get nourishment, so I didn't have endless hours in a rocking chair. And somehow he managed to need my full attention so phone calls and texting were out too. I meditated instead. Well, attempted to meditate. Call it new mom meditation - breathing and simply trying to be it the present moment.

So for the first time in a year, I have read a book. Actually, I have read three books. And none of them were about infant sleep, developmental milestones or starting solids. Halle-freaking-uia! It may be however, that I am extremely late in my book reviews and these books are old news. If that is the case, scroll to the bottom and send me a comment about what book I should pick up next!

I have been nursing Traveling with Pomegranates: A mother-daughter story since December. It was a gift from my mom for Christmas. She usually gifts me some sort of reading material about spirituality, so I was excited to get something lighter and easier to digest. Or so I thought. The irony is that this book is indeed a book of faith and spirituality. But it is also a book of relationship and truth telling and coming into one's own, at 20 and at 50, and probably several times in between.

The story is co-authored by Sue Monk Kidd (of The Secret Life of Bees) and her daughter Anne Kidd Taylor and their journey of self-discovery. I nursed it because I have a 15 month old tornado who keep me busy and when I try to read at night, I usually only make it through the first paragraph. But I think I also nursed it because it is a journey of insights and awakenings and I needed time to process how their story affected mine. I saw myself as the daughter and the mother, as the young woman searching for her path and the older woman full of self knowledge about the needs of her creative self. I underlined wise insights and "aha" moments. I even googled Anne and with great interest watched the video of the commencement address she and her mother gave after the book project was complete.

I nursed this book because I too have a mom and we have a sometimes complicated relationship.

I nursed this book because it is a journey about travel in one of my favorite parts of the world, experiencing and finding the Divine feminine and for one young woman, becoming a writer. It was this synchronicity that I paid attention to and savored as I approached the 1st birthday of my baby boy and began to wonder what it is I want to become.

During my three days "off" a few weeks ago, I let myself buy a book in the Tassajara bookstore. I could have gone for something about everyday mindfulness or learning how to really live in the present moment, but I was struck by the cover of Little Bee by Chris Cleave, and I will be the first to admit that I always judge a book by its cover.

I read the whole book in three days - by the pool, at the hotsprings, to kerosene light before falling asleep. It is compelling and pulls you in - but I realized I pushed myself to finish because I knew once I headed back up into my world, it would take me months to finish.

The back cover tells very little. On purpose I suppose, so I will do the same. In short, it is a story about what can happen when you stop communicating in your marriage, the dark and festering side of humanity and the inner voice that sometimes pushes you do the right thing, no matter what the consequences. It is not light and fluffy, but it is honest and hauntingly real and even a bit hopeful.

And now here in Germany, I have gotten the chance to read book number three. My mother-in-law is an avid reader of books in English and she usually has a stack waiting for me when I come to visit. Not able to indulge in German television (which I really love to do when I am here) because the TV is in the room where the nugget is sleeping, I have ample opportunity to read.

So in this week, I started and finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Again, its a story about being in relationship. And again, its a story about women being in relationship to other women - as strangers, as mother and daughter, as employee and employer, as friends. It is a story of two sides and unlikely connections. Its a story about standing up for what you believe in. Its a story about women: the good, the bad, the ugly, the unpleasant, the vicious, the generous, the benevolent and the triumphant.

But, it is just a story. I am fairly certain that many of the pop-culture references are not dated correctly and the use of stereotyped language and socio-economic circumstances is fairly extreme. I am a white woman who grew up in California with no domestic help so I don't have a reference point or any clue. I can only choose to see this book as a snapshot of an important and utterly appalling time in American history.

{Side note: I mentioned my proclivity for judging books by their cover and if you click on the link you will see a different cover for The Help. It threw me when I searched for the book on Amazon because to me this yellow cover doesn't work with the story at all. But I see how it could be more appealing on the shelf...I am really quite curious how and why the 2 covers were designed so differently. What do you think?}

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