Modern Mrs. Darcy is hosting “The Book That Changed My Life” blog carnival and I couldn’t not participate. I’m a huge reader, almost exclusively of non-fiction. One of the reasons I enjoy reading non-fiction so much is because of what I learn. Here are a few of the books that changed my life, organized by topic.
From the time I became pregnant with my first child, I never considered not having a natural birth. There were probably two reasons for this: one is because I had heard my mom tell the story of my birth so many times. She had a quick, easy delivery and the first words out of her mouth once she pushed me into the world (to my Dad) were: “Oh honey, when can we do it again!?” The second was because I experienced my sister giving birth to 4 sons naturally. It was just normal to me.
Late in my pregnancy with the oldest, I took Bradley childbirth classes, read Husband Coached Childbirth and lots of other books about birth. Caleb came after a 30 hour labor that included 4 hours of pushing, in a hospital. I had no IV, no monitoring, I ate and drank and moved around when I wanted. I had no pitocin, and no drugs of any kind.
When he was a newborn, I began devouring every book I could get on the topics of breastfeeding, birth, vaccinations, and parenting. One of those was Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin.
Reading it was a life changing event. I decided right there that any more children I brought into the world would be born at home. I’m glad I overcome my initial hesitation about picking this book up – it was the title that threw me off a bit. What exactly was “spiritual” midwifery? I was expecting something like the 5th definition down on this page. But the book was more about the first definition: “of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit.”
In other words, the book acknowledges that a woman’s birth affects her spirit, and that the spirit or attitude of her birth attendants also deeply impact her, which is absolutely the truth.
I’ve read many parenting books in the last 14 years, most of which have at least some value. The Continuum Concept was another paradigm changer for me, however. It described a parenting style that my newborn so obviously needed from me, and gave me permission to embrace it.
How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor is another child care manual that is an absolute Bible for me. I will never be without this book! Dr. Robert Mendelsohn is a rebel rock star as far as I’m concerned because of his no nonsense style and approach to childhood illnesses and issues. (I also love his other book, MalEpractice – about how women’s health care has been such a sham for decades.) This book encourages you to trust your instincts, don’t panic and that most things are better in a day or two. Dr. Mendelsohn is for home birth, opposes vaccines, and is a breath of fresh air among allopathic physicians who want to overmedicalize and overmedicate everything – to the detriment of the patient. I consult this book every time one of my kids gets sick.
Life Learning: Lessons from the Educational Frontier is a book I can’t seem to part with. At this moment it’s literally the only book about homeschooling I own. The stories of young people who had been mostly unschooled their whole lives, and the fascinating choices they were making as young adults, was like catnip for me. Life Learning is a series of essays compiled by Wendy Priesnitz of Natural Life magazine. You can listen to an interview I did with her here.
Whole Foods for the Whole Family was a cookbook I had for years, until it literally fell apart (and a mouse infestation a couple of years ago took care of what was left). It’s more than a cookbook really, it’s a wonderful introduction to real, whole foods nutrition. It doesn’t espouse any one eating philosophy, and most of the recipes are quite easy to change depending on your preference or tolerance. It’s also a frugal cooking guide since everything is made from scratch. There are lots of instructions on how to do back to basics cooking to replace store bought, inferior products.
I just recommended this old favorite to a friend the other day!
Productivity and Goal Setting
168 Hours is the most recent book I’ve read on this topic, but it’s probably the one that has helped me make real changes to my thinking and routine. Again, this is a genre I’ve read many books in, and most of the ideas I abandoned quickly (GTD anyone?). The principles in 168 Hours are sticking. I plan on writing a review for this book on my new, soon to be announced blog.
Relationships and Personal Development
Boundaries is a book that seems to frequently disappear from my shelf because I keep lending it to friends who need it! Learning good boundaries is probably the single most important thing any person can do to grow up and have a healthy emotional and spiritual life. I use principles I learned from this book every single day.
What about you? What books have changed your life?