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March 8, 2010

Have you ever fallen in love with a book?

I regularly get so tangled up in a book that when it ends, I feel the sort of melancholy you might feel on the last day of summer camp, gushing to your newfound friends that you’ll stay in touch forever, and yet knowing you’ll likely never see this cast of characters again.

But I’m also fickle; I can devote myself for three sleep-broken nights to a novel, and then after reading the last line, dwell in the brief regret of endings for five minutes, then slutishly pick up the next book on my nightstand and dive in.

If you asked Dan, who reads 400-page books about Yew trees, or painstaking step-by-step tomes on bow-making, he would say my reading borders on obsessive. In fact, if I’m particularly involved in a book, his chances of getting particularly involved with me are slim. I have a friend who has a conjugal code with her husband. If by the time he gets in bed, she’s turned away from him and embracing her book, the message, like my sixth grade, magic 8-ball used to say is: “outlook not so good.”

This is my first giveaway. I hope you don’t mind that these books have been thoroughly thumbed through, toted around, and have rested on my nightstand (my very clean, hygienic nightstand) at various times. These books have been read, loved and re-read. And good books are meant to be passed on.

To enter, leave a comment sharing the name of a book or ten that you’ve fallen in love with. Don’t think too hard, it doesn’t have to be your desert island book, just a good one. Also, please note in your comment which of the three books you would like to receive. I will have my lovely assistants select a random winner.

Lovely Assistants

I’m leaving this post up for a week, during which our family will be in the Utah desert, imitating lizards and trying to avoid collisions with cacti.

The Selection:

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

Dan and I read this book to each other while I was pregnant with Rose. Ina May Gaskin has been practicing midwifery since before many of us were born. Her premise, based on attending thousands of homebirths, is that birth is a normal, natural, safe and beautiful life passage that rarely requires intervention. While modern medicine has excelled at saving birthing women and their babies in mortal distress, we’ve mistaken these technologies as necessary to have a safe birth in any instance. This book is easy to read, full of both personal anecdotes and hard science, and was an essential prenatal guide for me. This book made me excited to experience the priviledge of birthing a child.

Momma Zen – Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by Karen Maezen Miller

There now. Aren’t you already in love with this title? Has your motherhood path ever been anything other than a zig-zagging, meandering, doubling back, circuitous, hilarious, heartbreaking, fanciful walk? This book is Miller’s story of becoming a mother at the same time her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. And although Miller calls motherhood the most “amazing, miraculous, mysterious, dignifying and illuminating thing you will ever do,” she is not serving up a plate of sweet, empty calories. She tells the truth about the boredom, anger, sleeplessness, and self-judging that all mothers face, and how to meet these states with wisdom and compassion. In her bite-sized chapters bursting with straightforward wisdom, Miller shows how the daily challenges of motherhood can become the most profound spiritual journey of our lives. To get to know Karen better, check out her chock-full of Zen-smarts website.

Toddler – Real-life Stories of Those Fickle, Irrational, Urgent, Tiny People we Love edited by Jennifer Margulis

Does that title sum up every toddler you’ve ever known? Or perhaps even the one who’s right now shrieking that you watch her new dance move, the same lovely, clumsy gallop she’s been performing for the last ten minutes straight. Or maybe she’s telling you, as Rose told me this morning with indignation in her small voice: “I don’t need to pee, I peed last year.” This book is a collection of 46 short essays on parenting toddlers by some seriously talented writers, including Ayun Halliday and Catherine Newman, who are so funny and such masters of language, I would pay to read their grocery lists.

Again, to enter: leave a comment about a book you’ve enjoyed and specify which of the three books you would like to receive. What’s not to love? Tell a friend!

*Oh, and are you subscribed to 6512 and growing yet? You can get e-mail alerts; see ye olde sidebar.



44 Comments leave one →
  1. abozza permalink
    March 8, 2010 8:37 am

    You know, it never dawned on me to share my books as a giveaway at my blog! But, books are such a huge part of my life, why wouldn’t I? This is a GREAT idea!

  2. March 8, 2010 8:44 am

    Thanks for the comment on my blog! So jealous you live in Durango. I grew up in Englewood; lived in Cortez a very short time and fell IN LOVE and my hubby and I hiked the CT, and hung out in Durango for a couple of days afterward (just long enough to spend our last dime on a Greyhound ticket back to Denver), hoping two fantastic jobs would fall out of the clear blue sky…no such luck and now we’re somehow stuck in Maine. Anyhoo…yes, books, I do tend to fall in love with them. Some recent flings:
    What I thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen
    The Blue Jay’s Dance by Louise Erdrich
    Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich
    Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
    What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth George
    Sex, Time and Power by Leonard Shlain
    and on and on and on…

  3. Stacey permalink
    March 8, 2010 9:10 am

    Ah Utah in March, I remember the first time I went to the desert by myself, you had just gone for a week or so and I couldn’t figure out why you had left the snow (this would have been 1997). But now I’m in Denver and desert here means New Mexico, not the same but still it has a similar feel.

    I found your blog about a month ago and have been to shy to leave a comment, but now you are talking about something I love so I’ll write a few titles down (don’t add me to the giveaway though).

    Land Circle by Linda Hasslestrom

    The Most Beautiful House in the World by Witold Rybczynski

    Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver

    The Immoralist by Andre Gide

    Fidelity by Wendell Berry (actually anything by him)

    Well that’s a start at least. From your old roommate Stacey

  4. March 8, 2010 9:46 am

    As a fellow book lover, I obviously really like this post. :)

    Momma Zen was the first book I ever bought and read about becoming a parent. I found a used (which I love more than brand new) copy at The Boulder Bookstore right about the time when Theo could then be called a fetus instead of an embryo. That book will always be very dear to me.

    So a book. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. I cried when it was over. Yes I did. I loved it that much. I can’t think of many stories that had that kind of affect on me. Mists of Avalon~~I’ve read it at least a half of a dozen times.

  5. March 8, 2010 10:06 am

    That last book about the Toddlers sounds great (and I’ve already read both of the others).

    My favorite books…
    -Prodigal Summer (by Barbara Kingsolver)
    -Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a brilliant study of human personality by the late great Douglas Adams)
    -Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man (by Fannie Flagg, way better than Fried Green Tomatoes)
    -To Kill a Mockingbird
    -Wrinkle in Time (and the sequels)
    -The Gunslinger series by Stephen King

    Really I could go on and on.

  6. Steph permalink
    March 8, 2010 10:08 am

    My most favorite book I’ve read recently was “Buddhism for Mothers”. I savored every page, having read it during the tender post-partum time after my second child’s birth. It’s still on my nightstand, awaiting it’s turn for a second read. I would love to read the “Mama Zen” book as a follow up to that book, the whole aspect of applying Buddhism (in one form or another) to motherhood is really resonating (and working!) with me right now. Have fun in the dessert!!!

  7. March 8, 2010 11:02 am

    I will have to come back after thinking about this one for a bit! Have a great time in Utah.

  8. March 8, 2010 1:19 pm

    Here’s my list. You’ll see we have one in common :) I have to say, time to read is one of the things I most miss since becoming a mother. It takes me an eternity to finish a novel. Does it get better?
    -A Separate Peace
    -The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    -Heart of Darkness
    -Anias Nin diaries
    -A Brave New World
    -The Beautiful and Damned
    -Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
    -Catcher in the Rye
    -The Road
    -All the Pretty Horses
    -Crime and Punishment
    -Pet Cemetery
    -Island of the Blue Dolphins
    American Psycho
    Into the Wild

  9. Melissa permalink
    March 8, 2010 2:04 pm

    I am in week 30 of pregnancy with baby 2 (a girl this time! we have a lovely 2 y.o. boy) and have *never* read Ina May’s book–crazy, right? I liked Birthing from Within and Spiritual Midwifery (and made fun of all the ladies talking about how psychedelic birthing is until i was crowning on my dining room floor–absolutely psychedelic! yes!) but have not yet read a thing to prepare for this baby’s birth. So . . .

    right now I am doggedly getting through And the Band Played on . . . so good and so sad (we just saw a show at Berkeley Rep about Aids in S Africa that made me mad all over again, in a good way); anyway, I work at UCSF and it’s so interesting to go back in time yet eerily imagine the same tragedy happening all over . . .

    of course i love novels too but haven’t read one in awhile, sadly. i used to be voracious. i love, love Jhumpa Lahiri. everything she’s written.

    long comment! but it’s monday and i enjoy your posts so! i will have to thank nici of dig this chick for linking to your blog!

    oh, and as for the pre-recorded tape, mine totally sounds like yours. lots of enthusiastic praise. i must say that it’s cute my son “asks permission” to do the darndest things. like, “can i want this, mommy?”

  10. Michelle permalink
    March 8, 2010 3:18 pm

    I just fell in love with a book this weekend. It was Papa Martel by Gerard Robichaud. I read it quickly then spent all day yesterday lamenting that it was over.

    I loved Ina May’s book, too.

    I am so envious that you’ll be in Utah, we spent a few weeks in Southern Utah last March, it was fantastic. Remember we ran into you guys at a restaurant in Moab?

  11. March 8, 2010 3:43 pm

    I love books, the more times read and dog-eared the better! When I do carve out time to read, I tend toward the fluffy … Janet Evanovich and Nora Roberts are favorites, as well as Emily Giffin, who’s a little deeper. For the giveaway, I’d be interested in the last two (I’ve got and love Ina May’s book). Hope you and your lovely assistants have a wonderful vacation!

  12. jamie permalink
    March 8, 2010 3:50 pm

    Loved Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth! I read it while prego with my daughter. I havent heard of the other two, but the Mama Zen sounds interesting. I read mostly novels, and there have been I few that I love so much I have to keep them. Here are two of my absolute favs:

    The Book Thief. So GREAT!! You must read it, its short and listed as young adult or juvenile, but it is just so so good!

    The Time Traveler’s Wife ( it has gotten mixed reviews, but I thought it was great.)

  13. March 8, 2010 5:26 pm

    Hi there!

    Here’s a book I’ve enjoyed and am still enjoying a lot:

    The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist.

    And your kids are super cute btw!!

    blessings, BK :)

  14. March 8, 2010 5:27 pm

    Oh and I would totally be up for Mommazen! ;)

  15. March 8, 2010 5:29 pm

    Oh Rachel, poor Dan coming in third, after the kids and… your books? Hilarious, but I too become obsessive when I read. No time lately, but some all time favorites:
    Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
    Time Travelers Wife – ?
    The Red Tent – Anita Diamonte (?)
    I Know This Much is True – Wally Lamb
    One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    and recently – most inspirational to me in all her snarky wisdom:
    Bitter is the New Black – Jen Lancaster

    Hope you have a great time in Utah!

  16. Barbara Halabi permalink
    March 8, 2010 5:33 pm

    Hi There!
    I have absolutely fallen in love with the Book Momma Zen . I don’t yet have my own copy but just keep renewing it at the library because I cannot bear to part with it.


  17. Susan permalink
    March 8, 2010 6:06 pm

    “The Alchemist” is one of my all time favorite books. I highly recommend it to everyone. I’d love Momma zen’s new book!!

  18. March 8, 2010 6:59 pm

    You should contact me. I know someone who has a stack of Momma Zen’s under her desk.

  19. emily l permalink
    March 8, 2010 7:26 pm

    Ragtime by EL Doctorow
    The Kushiel Series – Jaqueline Carey
    Night by Elie Wiesel
    David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
    Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
    Zahn Trilogy (Heir To The Empire, etc. ) Timothy Zahn)
    Beloved – Toni Morrison
    To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
    Number The Stars – Lois Lowry
    The Lorax – Dr Seuss

  20. March 8, 2010 7:35 pm

    What a lovely giveaway! My faves are Buddhism for Mothers and anything by Barbara Kingsolver. If I’m so lucky to win this giveaway, I would love to receive Momma Zen. It’s been on my to read list for some time. Thank you!

  21. March 8, 2010 8:06 pm

    I love Buddhism for Mothers- a great read!

  22. March 8, 2010 9:15 pm

    Okay, off the top of my head: always, always Fall on Your Knees, by Annemarie MacDonald. I really did whenever I try to remember how in good novel is structured. I recently read Miranda July’s Nobody Belongs Here More Than You, and it made me rethink everything I thought about short stories. Brilliant.

    As for book choices, should your lovely assistants choose my name — that’s hard. I think I can skip on the childbirth one, given that I probably won’t go through that once again (sadly — I loved giving birth…) I would totally go for the toddler choice, given that I have one of those around the house. But I’m thinking I think maybe Momma Zen, given that the parallels are kind of ridiculous: I got pregnant for the first time just as my own mother was dying from breast cancer — an offshoot of the ovarian cancer she’d had 20 years earlier (a link to my take on that here:

    Thanks for the getaway — good luck, all — and enjoy Utah!

  23. March 8, 2010 9:18 pm

    wow…what a great giveaway! i have read and re read ina may’s books (i am a midwives apprentice (on break right now) and so…you can imagine how i have loved that one!). a couple of books i love…a fine balance, the red tent, and oh…why can’t i think of any others that i read year after year? ok…harry potter series (i start them every year in january…), you are your childs first teacher, beyond the rainbow bridge. well…that is enough…i must get some sleep now!

  24. March 8, 2010 9:34 pm

    i’ve just recently falling back in love with reading after i used books to wean myself off of the internet. i just picked up momma zen and i’m loving that. i’m currently in the middle of “if the buddha got stuck” and “dance of the dissident daughter” by sue monk kidd. if you’re a science geek and need a good laugh, “bonk” by mary roach was awesome.

    despite having had 4 natural childbirths, one at home, i’ve never actually read ina may’s book! i’d love that one.

  25. Amy D permalink
    March 8, 2010 10:11 pm

    The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman — excellent historical fiction!
    My choice: the toddler book

  26. March 8, 2010 10:35 pm

    Oh what a heavenly post…
    I am signed up to go to a workshop of Karen Maezen Miller’s and I haven’t yet read her book. So that would be my pick.
    Books have changed my life. I fall in love over and over again.

    Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott
    Little House on the prairie by Alcott
    Women who run with the wolves by Pinkola Estes
    Catcher in the Rye by salinger
    Me talk pretty one day by David Sedaris
    good lord.. any children’s book by Andrew Clements and Peter Reynolds

    oh dear.. there are more.. my mind is a blank.
    Thanks for the awesome post.

  27. March 9, 2010 9:14 am

    Right now, I’m reading Tobacco Road (how did I ever miss that one) and Bird by Bird (a writing book by Anne Lamont).

    Please don’t enter me into the contest: I’m (sniff sniff) into the elementary school and teen years. Al-freakin-ready!

    But I do love your idea of the giveaway. Brilliant!

  28. March 9, 2010 12:54 pm

    I love that feeling of a really good book too (most recently, it was Julie and Julia), not wanting it to end.

    I’d love to read Momma Zen. I’m actually reading Sarah Napthali’s Buddhism for Mothers and am enjoying it. Even after 10+ years of being a Buddhist, I’m still learning and practicing, especially in the thick of motherhood. I’d love to glean a bit of your wisdom too. Thanks!

  29. March 9, 2010 1:48 pm

    I just re-read my all time favorite book, Swiss Family Robinson, and would love to check out Momma Zen. My older twin (they’re 7) has hit a particularly challenging stubborn streak, and this Mama could use a little Zen.

  30. March 9, 2010 3:20 pm

    what an awesome give away and your intro was fabulous. i laughed, relating to it all too well, feeling sad that both reading and crafting have fallen away in place of….? no clue what, but it hasn’t been early bedtime or ahem….other fun bed activities. note to self: remedy this immediately!

    i would love to win momma zen. sounds right up my ally these days.

    as for my latest good read? hmmmm, i have tossed aside a number of books lately that just haven’t cut it. i have gotten a lot from reading, skimming, and re-skimming raising a spirited child by mary kurcinka lately.

    ps. you are already a part of my regular reads in my blog reader!

  31. March 9, 2010 9:24 pm

    My favorite book, still, is To Kill A Mockingbird. Also, any books by Hunter S Thompson. What can I say? He’s my alter ego. I could never do the wild things he did, so I like reading about his adventures.

    And, of course, I love Momma Zen. I do have a copy, but my sister is newly pregnant, & will be raising this little one on her own. (well, not really, her family & friends have all rallied behind her) I feel like it could give her a great foundation to start building from. Plus, it would save me from having to send her my copy…haha!

    Awesome idea!

  32. Jolana permalink
    March 10, 2010 6:04 am

    I’d love to read the Toddler book.
    My all time favorite book is “East of Eden.” Currently I am very slowly reading “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” and I am loving it.

  33. March 10, 2010 11:34 am

    The Fifth Sacred Thing is a book that I’ve been re-reading every few years since college.
    Ecotopia is a fun book too.

    Right now I’m thoroughly enjoying:
    Less is More, a collection of essays on simple living

    Momma Zen sounds like I good read as well!

  34. March 10, 2010 3:33 pm

    I love Momma Zen so much that I gave a copy to my best friend for Christmas, and she loved it so much that she sent me an email about how it made her cry.


    Servants of the Map- Andrea Barrett, if you read more than one of her books you will begin to encounter some of the same characters at different places in their lives, like Krystof Kieslowski’s Red, White & Blue films. Her writing is poetic and subtle, and lingers…

  35. March 11, 2010 5:43 am

    I’d love to have the Momma Zen book!

    My latest book is a good one… “The Mighty Queens of Freeville” by Amy Dickenson. Her easy stream of consciousness style is a nice break at the end of a long day.

    I also just finished reading “The Omnivore’s delema” by Michael Pollan, which was great too… it reallly got me thinking about the food that I consume.

  36. March 11, 2010 10:28 am

    The “Momma Zen” book sounds fantastic!

    My current obsessions are:
    “My Life in France” by Julia Child . She was much more dynamic and fiesty than I thought.
    “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer. This book sat on my night stand for weeks because I was afraid to start it due to the underlying place and time of the storyline. It has turned out to be quite a different book with an interesting cadence of the author’s pen.

  37. Samantha permalink
    March 11, 2010 10:58 am

    Right now I am reading (and loving!) “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery. “Water for Elephants” is another one of my favorites.

    I would love to win your copy of Momma Zen!

  38. March 12, 2010 5:27 am

    I’d LOVE to read Momma Zen’s book…

    I have so many faves, but one that I keep turning to lately is Art and Motherhood by Aussie writer Rachel Power. So wonderful to read stories of how other mamas combine creativity and motherhood.

    p.s love your blog – I actually found you through momma zen’;s FB page :)

  39. Carolyn permalink
    March 12, 2010 9:50 am

    My favorite book: Eat, Pray, Love

    I would love the toddler book…I have two toddlers and would love some more insight into their amazing minds! :)


  40. March 12, 2010 9:46 pm

    That Zen mama one looks good :)

    Everyday Blessings is a favorite…. currently enjoying Heaven On Earth by Sharifa……. The Tao of Willie…… okay I’d better stop…. from one girl with a nightstand full of books to another :)

  41. March 13, 2010 10:04 pm

    Great idea to have a giveaway:) Mmmmm my favorites are…
    “Ride the Wind” and “Lozen ” be Lucia St. Clair Robson
    Mist of Avalon
    Currently reading “Women who run with the Wolves”

  42. Diane permalink
    March 14, 2010 12:45 pm

    What an exciting giveaway! I love books! These are some of my favorites:

    Memoirs of a Geisha by Artur Golden (I fell in love with the character and missed her when the book ended)

    The Thing Itself-On the Search for Authenticity, by Richard Todd

    Waking Up In Eden by Lucinda Fleeson

    The Secret Life of Bees

    Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli

    The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau

    Cinnamon Gardens by Shyam Selvadurai

    Under the Hula Moon by Jocelyn Fujii

    Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport

    Everyday Blessings-The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Mayla Kabat-zinn and Jon Kabat-zinn

    Orchid Fever-A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy by Eric Hansen

    Villete by Charlotte Bronte

    Possession by A.S. Byatt

    Soul: Archaeology of the Spirit–Readings from Socrates to Ray Charles by Phil Cousineau

    Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

  43. Diane permalink
    March 14, 2010 12:49 pm

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I would really love to win the book Momma Zen!!! I was so busy listing my favorite books that I forgot to mention the book I am dying to read!

    Another book I loved was The Lover, by Marguerite Duras!

  44. Diane permalink
    March 14, 2010 12:54 pm

    Oh, and how could I have forgotten? I second Jamie! The Book Thief is one of the best books I have EVER read. Everyone should read it!

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