Here are a few of the texts that have meant allot to me this year:
Getting from here to there: Analytic love, analytic process by Sheldon Bach I heard Sheldon Bach interviewed on the fabulous podcast ‘New Books in Psychoanalysis’ and I was intrigued by his work on Sadomasochistic ways of relating. I love the way he writes and this text had an enormous impact on how I understand my own sadomasochistic ways of mothering.
Feminine Law by Gill Gentile This was another interview from the New Books in Psychoanalysis podcast I really enjoyed (washing dishes has become so much more intellectually satisfying), and her thinking around ‘receptive space’ or ‘naming the vagina’ has furthered my own thinking on what it is I think I’m doing when I do ‘parenting.’
Odes’ and ‘Stags Leap’ by Sharon Olds I just discovered Sharon this year, and I am astonishedby her emotional sensibility. I cannot stop reading Stags Leap. Her frankness is electrifying as is her love of bodies- it’s wonderful to read someone who loves men as much as she does.
Fracture by Ann Oakley Ann Oakley is a sociologist of childbirth and this book is a collection of her writing after an accident which resulted in a fractured wrist. The whole book is gorgeous, and there’s some startling thinking about pregnancy and breastfeeding which I enjoyed. But my biggest takeaway from her thinking was how much permission she gives herself to expand. She mines her own experience extensively, unapologetically. In a world where personal experience can be minimised or co-opted into aphorism in an instant, it was refreshing to read someone who take meaning-making so seriously.
I Love Dick by Kris Kraus This book was outrageous fun to read. I snorted with joy at all the theory jokes and I love how she dignifies the deeply shameful psychic-scape of female desire and obsession. I feel a little less apologetic about myself after reading this. I have also lifted her self -proclaimed identity of ‘bad feminist’ and I use it daily to refer to myself.
Women who run with wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes I have resisted reading this book for years because of the cheesy title and my distaste of anything earnestly spiritual. I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. Although her authorial voice is not my cup of tea (slightly too verbose and hippy -essentialist) the content rocked my world. She is shockingly original in her thinking, and I finally understand what to do with my ‘wild woman’ anger and desire.
Mating in captivity and State of affairs by Esther Perel I can’t get enough Esther Perel. I love the way she thinks about the push and pull of attachment, ‘competing needs for security and adventure’ and the poetry of Eros. She has radically changed the way I think about creativity and desire.
Serenity Yin Yoga by Magdalena Mecweld This book gave me all I needed to begin practicing Yin yoga. Every morning at 6am I do an hour of breath and backbends while my son watches tv. Beginning the day like this has been challenging and fruitful and gorgeous.
So, these are some texts that have gotten me through the past year:
Helen Dunmore, poem, ‘The night workers’: a great poem to have knocking around in your head at three am when the baby won’t sleep
Oliver James, book, ‘How not to fuck them up‘: I know some feminists hate him, but I love how he makes the labour of mothering visible and valuable. I think there’s an argument for it to be reclaimed as a feminist text
Margot Wadell, book, ‘Inside Lives’: a beautifully written, technical psychoanalytic text tracing normal emotional development from infancy to old age (including some terrifying examples of pathology – ‘is my son staring at the light because he’s trying to hold himself together or because he’s a baby interested in light?!) It’s a total pleasure to read, particularly the chapters on infancy
Rachel Cusk, book, ‘A Life’s work’: a gorgeous memoir that bravely explores some of the darker aspects of motherhood in totally delicious sentences
Helen Dunmore, poem, ‘Glad of these times’: A fabulous poem that puts into words why I’m very happy I gave birth and am raising a child in in the 21st century, not 50 years ago
Book, ‘The Oxford Handbook of Infant, child and adolescent sleep and behaviour’: a technical smorgasbord of essays on sleep. Its not for everyone, but I enjoyed it immensely
Lynn Murray and Liz Andrews, book, ‘The Social Baby,‘ a visually stunning book of film stills capturing how even newborns reach out for emotional connection with their caretakers. Looking through it was definitely a penny-drop moment for me
Daniel Stern, Books, ‘Diary of a baby’ and ‘The interpersonal world of the infant’: The first text is an imaginative foray into baby Joey’s experience of the world and his sense of self at different stages of infancy (one month, four an a half months one year and four years) which sort of flesh out and illustrate Stern’s rather more technical but riveting observations from the second text.
Nicola Lathey, book, ‘Small talk’: A really useful book written by a speech an language therapist about language development. Full of games, cold hard facts and recommendations for developing speech.
Susie Orbach, PDF, ‘Two for the price of one’: Susie’s thinking on women, food and bodies (Hunger Strike and On eating especially) has influenced my deeply over the years and radically changed the way I eat and think about food and my own body, and this essay is a lovely succinct introduction to some of her thinking, geared in particular towards pregnant and postpartum women. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/317739/TWO_FOR_THE_PRICE_OF_ONE.pdf