After I had my baby, I was surprised to learn that nothing worked. Not my brain, not my body—nothing was the way it was before. I felt like a weird doppelganger of my former self. I looked like Dorothy (but with less hair around the temple and a pudgier middle) but I wasn’t Dorothy.
The biggest change happened mentally. BB (“Before Baby”), I read books…a lot of books. In fact, it’s hard to describe just how much I loved books—they were my escape, therapy, hobby and solace.
But once I became a parent, it was hard for me to even have the brain capacity to scroll through my Facebook feed at night. The most I read was when I clicked on various Mommy blogs. (It was a dark time, friends.) The thought of actually picking up a book, let alone interpret text, felt akin to asking me to run a marathon.
But, after a while, the puzzle pieces of my former self started falling back into place. My energy came back, as did my hair. But it was still difficult to jump back into reading. I was nervous to try, as what if it wouldn’t work? What if, by having a baby, I sacrificed that sacred part of my identity forever? Was I doomed to become one of those people who think that picking up the latest grocery store paperback constitutes being a reader?
It took me a while to realize that like almost anything else, reading is a habit. And I knew the best way to get back into a reading routine was to just start. But where to start? Because of my fragile mental state (which was all too eager to go back to staring at my phone each night), I knew, deep down, I wouldn’t be able to fully sink my teeth into, say, Ta-Nehisi Coates. But perhaps I could get into some Kate Atkinson. Eventually, I figured, I would work my way up to Coates.
Now, as my son grows older, my brain becomes stronger, and my reading list becomes more serious and pronounced. Here are the books that are ushered me along. They are engaging and interesting; the perfect mix of smarts and readability. They make you think, just not too hard. They’re even better than mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. I promise.
After all, no woman should live on baby blogs and Facebook feeds alone.
Bookshelf curated by Dorothy Robinson, a writer and editor who lives in Maplewood, NJ. You can follow her on Twitter @dorothyrobinson
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