The Best Summer 2023 Doula Books, ranked

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Ok readers,  we have compiled our top 10 doula books list for this summer for all you birth nerds (and aspiring ones!)… Bonus, many of these are on audible so you can listen while you enjoy the sun.

The bebo mia team loves to read so we are sharing our doula reading list. It’s a mix of fiction and non-fiction pregnancy, birth and parenting books for this summer. We made it super easy to buy or review the doula books just by clicking on the titles!

We added our two cents and all the extended bios are from Chapters/Indigo which has been led one of our favourite female CEO’s Heather Reisman who is retiring this year. We salute your career of excellence! 

Let’s jump in with our doula book list!

10. Fiction: The Birth House by Ami McKay

The Birth House

Small town midwife stories in rural Canada, yes please!  This is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of Rares. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing. Dora becomes Miss B.’s apprentice, and together they help the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labours, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even unfulfilling sex lives. Filled with details as compelling as they are surprising, The Birth House is an unforgettable tale of the struggles women have faced to have control of their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine.

 

9.  Fiction: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant:

The Red TentThis is an oldie but a goodie! You do not need to know anything about the Bible to enjoy this historical fiction…we promise. It is a great story about the forgotten stories of women in history. In this modern classic interpretation of the biblical story of Dinah, Anita Diamant imagines the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood–the world of The Red Tent, a New York Times bestseller and the basis of the A&E/Lifetime mini-series.

In the Bible, Dinah’s life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that tell of her father, Jacob, and his twelve sons.

The Red Tent begins with the story of the mothers–Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah–the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah’s story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past.

Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling and the valuable achievement of presenting a new view of biblical women’s lives.

8. Historical Fiction: Looking For Jane by Heather Marshall:

Looking For Jane

Another Canadian author on the list…This was a book club read from this year and we had the pleasure of having the author join us which is always delightful! This is all about the network of underground abortion in Canada and about motherhood and community. 

Here comes a masterful debut novel about three women whose lives are bound together by a long-lost letter, a mother’s love, and a secret network of women fighting for the right to choose—inspired by true stories.

Tell them you’re looking for Jane.

 

2017

When Angela Creighton discovers a mysterious letter containing a life-shattering confession in a stack of forgotten mail, she is determined to find the intended recipient. Her search takes her back to the 1970s when a group of daring women operated an illegal underground abortion network in Toronto known only by its whispered code name: Jane…

1971

As a teenager, Dr. Evelyn Taylor was sent to a home for “fallen” women where she was forced to give up her baby for adoption—a trauma she has never recovered from. Despite harrowing police raids and the constant threat of arrest, she joins the Jane Network as an abortion provider, determined to give other women the choice she never had.

1980

After discovering a shocking secret about her family history, twenty-year-old Nancy Mitchell begins to question everything she has ever known. When she unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she feels like she has no one to turn to for help. Grappling with her decision, she locates “Jane” and finds a place of her own alongside Dr. Taylor within the network’s ranks, but she can never escape the lies that haunt her.

Weaving together the lives of three women, Looking for Jane is an unforgettable debut about the devastating consequences that come from a lack of choice—and the enduring power of a mother’s love.

7. Non-Fiction: All The Rage by Darcy Lockman;

All The Rage

We love this book so much! Every person needs to read this before having children. New parents? It is not too late, you can still save your relationship and the health of your family with this as your guide. We had Darcy Lockman join us on the Hot+Brave podcast – have a listen here.

Why do men do so little at home? Why do women do so much? Why don’t our egalitarian values match our lived experiences?

Journalist-turned-psychologist Darcy Lockman offers a clear-eyed look at the most pernicious problem facing modern parents—how progressive relationships become traditional ones when children are introduced into the household.

In an era of seemingly unprecedented feminist activism, enlightenment, and change, data shows that one area of gender inequality stubbornly persists: the disproportionate amount of parental work that falls to women, no matter their background, class, or professional status. All the Rage investigates the cause of this pervasive inequity to answer why, in households where both parents work full-time and agree that tasks should be equally shared, mothers’ household management, mental labor, and childcare contributions still outweigh fathers’. 

How, in a culture that pays lip service to women’s equality and lauds the benefits of father involvement—benefits that extend far beyond the well-being of the kids themselves—can a commitment to fairness in marriage melt away upon the arrival of children?

Counting on male partners who will share the burden, women today have been left with what political scientists call unfulfilled, rising expectations. Historically these unmet expectations lie at the heart of revolutions, insurgencies, and civil unrest. If so many couples are living this way, and so many women are angered or just exhausted by it, why do we remain so stuck? Where is our revolution, our insurgency, our civil unrest?

Darcy Lockman drills deep to find answers, exploring how the feminist promise of true domestic partnership almost never, in fact, comes to pass. Starting with her own marriage as a ground zero case study, she moves outward, chronicling the experiences of a diverse cross-section of women raising children with men; visiting new mothers’ groups and pioneering co-parenting specialists; and interviewing experts across academic fields, from gender studies professors and anthropologists to neuroscientists and primatologists. Lockman identifies three tenets that have upheld the cultural gender division of labor and peels back the ways in which both men and women unintentionally perpetuate old norms.

If we can all agree that equal pay for equal work should be a given, can the same apply to unpaid work? Can justice finally come home?

6. Non-Fiction: Everything Below The Waist: Why Healthcare needs a Feminist Revolution by Jennifer Block

Everything Below The Waist

 

We had Jennifer Block join us on the Hot+Brave podcast – have a listen here.

American women visit more doctors, have more surgery, and fill more prescriptions than men. In Everything Below the Waist, Jennifer Block asks: Why is the life expectancy of women today declining relative to women in other high-income countries, and even relative to the generation before them? Block examines several staples of modern women’s health care, from fertility technology to contraception to pelvic surgery to miscarriage treatment, and finds that while overdiagnosis and overtreatment persist in medicine writ large, they are particularly acute for women. One third of mothers give birth by major surgery; roughly half of women lose their uterus to hysterectomy.

Feminism turned the world upside down, yet to a large extent the doctors’ office has remained stuck in time. Block returns to the 1970s women’s health movement to understand how in today’s supposed age of empowerment, women’s bodies are still so vulnerable to medical control—particularly their sex organs, and as result, their sex lives.

In this urgent book, Block tells the stories of patients, clinicians, and reformers, uncovering history and science that could revolutionize the standard of care, and change the way women think about their health. Everything Below the Waist challenges all people to take back control of their bodies.

5. Fiction We Measure The Earth With Our Bodies by Tsering Yangzom Lama

 

We Measure The Earth With Our BodiesWell, we love intergenerational relationships and the legacy of motherhood. You do too? Well then this book will not disappoint! 

In the wake of China’s invasion of Tibet throughout the 1950s, Lhamo and her sister, Tenkyi, arrive at a refugee camp on the border of Nepal, having survived the dangerous journey across the Himalayas into exile when so many others did not. As Lhamo—haunted by the loss of her homeland and her mother, the village oracle—tries to rebuild a life amid a shattered community, hope arrives in the form of a young man named Samphel and his uncle, who brings with him the ancient statue of the Nameless Saint, a relic long rumoured to vanish and reappear in times of need.

 Decades later, the sisters are separated, and Tenkyi is living with Lhamo’s daughter, Dolma, in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood. While Tenkyi works as a cleaner and struggles with traumatic memories, Dolma vies for a place as a scholar of Tibetan Studies. But when Dolma comes across the Nameless Saint in a collector’s vault, she must decide what she is willing to do for her community, even if it means risking her dreams.

Breathtaking in scope and powerfully intimate, We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies is a gorgeously written meditation on colonization, displacement, and the lengths we’ll go to remain connected to our families and ancestral lands. Told through the lives of four people over fifty years, this beautifully lyrical debut novel provides a nuanced portrait of the world of Tibetan exiles.

4. Non-Fiction: The Nurture Revolution by Greer Kirshenbaum PhD

The Nurture RevolutionYes, brought to you by fellow alumni and bebobabe, Greer’s book is brand new on the shelves and a must read this summer! 

The latest research in neuroscience and parenting come together in this groundbreaking book, which brings to light new realizations about the power of nurture for our children’s mental and physical health outcomes.

Greer Kirshenbaum, PhD. is a neuroscientist, doula, and parent. Her work began with the goal of developing new treatments for poor mental health; she dreamed of creating a new medication to address conditions like anxiety, depression, addiction, and chronic stress. Over time, she realized that science had already uncovered a powerful medicine for alleviating mental health struggles, but the answer wasn’t a pill. It was a preventative approach: when babies’ receive nurturing care in the first three years of life, it builds strong, resilient brains — brains that are less susceptible to poor mental health.

How can parents best set their children up for success? In this revelatory book, Dr. Kirshenbaum makes plain that nurture is a preventative medicine against mental health issues. She challenges the idea that the way to cultivate independence is through letting babies cry it out or sleep alone; instead, the way to raise a confident, securely attached child is to lean in to nurture, to hold your infant as much as you want, support their emotions, engage in back-and-forth conversations, be present and compassionate when your baby is stressed, and share sleep. Research has proven that nurturing experiences transform lives. Nurturing is a gift of resilience and health parents can give the next generation simply by following their instincts to care for their young. 

3. Fiction: The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

The School for Good MothersThis is an intense read that imagines what if the policing of mothers went one step further? We could not put it down! It is an emotional rollercoaster, so we are giving you the heads up!

Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.

Until Frida has a very bad day.

The state has its eye on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgement, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.

Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.

An “intense” (Oprah Daily), “captivating” (Today) page-turner that is also a transgressive novel of ideas about the perils of “perfect” upper-middle class parenting; the violence enacted upon women by both the state and, at times, one another; the systems that separate families; and the boundlessness of love, The School for Good Mothers introduces, in Frida, an everywoman for the ages. Using dark wit to explore the pains and joys of the deepest ties that bind us, Chan has written a modern literary classic.

2. Fiction: The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

The Henna Artist

We loved this book so much! It is the first of three in the series (they just get better with each book!). And yes, Reese also loved this book if that gets you more excited! Also, it looks like this is going to be made into a series soooo that is extra fun! The series looks at motherhood from a unique perspective and you will smile as much as you weep.

A REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICK

Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

1. Fiction: The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson


The House of Eve

Ahh we could not put this down! This historical fiction looks at young love, motherhood, pregnancy, infertility, and loss. 

1950s Philadelphia: fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall is on track to becoming the first in her family to attend college, in spite of having a mother more interested in keeping a man than raising a daughter. But a taboo love affair threatens to pull her back down into the poverty and desperation that has been passed on to her like a birthright.

Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. When she meets the handsome William Pride at Howard University, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of DC’s elite wealthy Black families, and his par­ents don’t let just anyone into their fold. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William’s family and grant her the life she’s been searching for. But having a baby—and fitting in—is easier said than done.

With their stories colliding in the most unexpected of ways, Ruby and Eleanor will both make decisions that shape the trajectory of their lives.

Disclosure: This blog includes Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate, I’m excited to share my top 10 doula book recommendations with you.

 

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