Seeking book recommendations

While it’s still ICLW, I’m hoping to get your input!

I love to read. When I got my first teaching job, I spent the next year reading every book I could get my hands on about teaching, mentoring students, navigating academic politics, setting up a research program, and so on. Not surprisingly, I took the same approach when we started trying to conceive.

Here’s a list of the books I read in the last year or so (in the order I read them), and what I thought of them:

  1. Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. This book is the charting bible. My only suggestion is to excise the chapter on choosing the sex of your baby, since it is pretty much nonsense. The rest is fantastic. We got pregnant the first month we charted according to the instructions in this book…(We miscarried a few weeks later, but I don’t blame Weschler or this book for that!)
  2. The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. After successfully getting pregnant, I was interested in a book other than the ubiquitous, alarmist What to Expect When You’re Expecting. For a fabulously concise rationale for not trusting Heidi Murkoff, see this post by Yeah Science!
  3. Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy. I had heard this one was funny, and bought it for my Kindle before learning that Jenny McCarthy was an anti-science wack-job. (As much as I hate to offend any readers, as a card-carrying scientist, I have to call it how I see it: Jenny McCarthy and her anti-vaccine buddies are anti-science, and I can’t help but feel anti-Jenny McCarthy.) I did read her book, though, which I think pre-dated her anti-vaccine stance, and was amusing.
  4. The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant by Jean Twenge. I bought this book after learning that we were about to miscarry. This book is awesome. It is a brilliantly written, funny, thoroughly researched (Twenge is a psychology professor at San Diego State), and concise guide. I especially appreciated her thoughts on age and fertility, and her discussion of antral follicle count (she got pregnant naturally…twice, after having the same crappy AFC as me). This book – along with TCOYF – impressed upon me the importance of visiting a specialist soon, especially if you know you’re timing things right. The one thing Dr. Twenge’s book doesn’t include is a detailed discussion of ART, as she didn’t end up needing it.
  5. Preventing Miscarriage: The Good News by Jonathan Scher. I expected more from the founder of one of the world’s top ART clinics. This book was dreadful. It is anecdotal with no citations or scientific support for Dr. Scher’s claims. Worse, Dr. Scher seems to imply that women who don’t quit their jobs and submit to 9-month bedrest are at fault for their miscarriages! This book also had the feel of an advertisement for the Scher clinic. Blech!
  6. The Infertility Survival Handbook: Everything You Never Thought You’d Need to Know by Elizabeth Swire-Falker. Another excellent book, well-written and researched, and yet personal and touching. (Swire-Falker is a former attorney, and, like Twenge, knows how to do proper research.) The one downside of this book is that I found it a little depressing that despite years of attempts at ART, she was ultimately unsuccessful in carrying a pregnancy to term. She did however successfully adopt (and breastfeed!) In this book, Swire-Falker convinced me not to save IVF as a ‘last resort’ treatment, and also suggested making and stashing little self-care baskets to pull out as a pick-me-up on the inevitable rough days of an ART cycle…
  7. Conquering Infertility: Dr. Alice Domar’s Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility by Alice Domar. I liked this book a lot. There were parts that felt like an advertisement for her program, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as Scher’s book. Dr. Domar was honest about acknowledging which of her recommendations are controversial (like giving up exercise). I especially appreciated her treatment of the emotional difficulty of IF and miscarriage.
  8. What to Do When You Can’t Get Pregnant: The Complete Guide to All the Technologies for Couples Facing Fertility Problems by Daniel Potter & Jennifer Hanin. This book was fine. Not great (it had type-os and some slightly misleading information), but fine.
  9. If at First You Don’t Conceive by William Schoolcraft. This book has some of the same shortcomings as Dr. Scher’s book (weird organization, shameless plug for Dr. Schoolcraft’s clinic – The Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, and not a single reference for any study or literature support for his claims – apparently having a medical degree means you don’t have to bother with proper use of sources?!), but I liked it a million times better than Dr. Scher’s book. Unlike Scher’s book, Schoolcraft’s contains lots of interesting and useful information, including cool figures like these:Image    It also contains a section on Traditional Chinese Medicine.

And that’s it! I’m almost through with Dr. Schoolcraft’s book, and I want to know what to read next. I have a slight preference for TTC-related (particularly IVF-related) nonfiction at the moment, but I’ll entertain all suggestions (fiction? websites? movies?).

So…what do you recommend?

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  1. I dont have any recommendations for you, but you’ve sure suggested lots of material for me! I’ve sort of been doing the research thing on my own, not really sure what a lot of my conditions really are, and what infertility means for me and my [future] options. Thanks for this post!

    -Jenn, from ICLW

  2. Holy smokes, girl, you have read EVERY book out there! At this point, I think you should just write your own book, one that summarizes all the best parts of the above titles. 🙂 As I said, I’m half-tempted to write a book for infertiles who’ve successfully gotten pregnant but are dealing with massive amounts of fear and by the way do NOT need to learn how babies are made but would really appreciate some neurotic stats on miscarriage and whether or not their baby will die if they bounce too much while they’re running.

  3. Wow, what a great list. I don’t know of anything you haven’t already read but your books reviews are very helpful. Thanks.

  4. I certainly don’t have anything to add- I’ve only read #1 and #6. This seems like a pretty comprehensive list. My advice would be to read a nice, light fluffy novel now… you have clearly done your research, and probably know more about your girly parts than you ever wanted to!

    • Good idea! Any light fluffy novels you recommend in particular?

      • When I’m looking for a nice easy read, I typically stick with authors like Emily Giffin, Jennifer Weiner, Elin Hilderbrand. I think fluffy is the wrong word- their books are all very easy to read, but can deal with some serious subject matter. I also enjoy Jodi Picoult, though the subject matter of her books can be difficult. I also just finished Melissa Ford’s new book, Measure of Love- if you haven’t read it or the prequel, Life From Scratch- both are excellent!

  5. Iiiii have no infertility book suggestions – you totes covered the ones I suggested.

    BUT I can do movies! Two movies you absolutely must run out, buy, rent, whatever:

    1. Away we go
    2. Funny about Love

    Do it. Do it now.

  6. Sigh…. Jenny McCarthy??? Really??? Just kidding because I know you are vehemently anti-anti-vaccine. I am much more into the fluffy reading and usually stick to pubmed when i want to know the facts behind the story. So I have no excellent reading suggestions for you.

    • You inspired me to do a PubMed search on diminished ovarian reserve. Not sure why I didn’t think of that before! Stay tuned for a post on what I’ve learned so far…

  7. I loved the Firestone you mentioned. I also loved the infertility cure and making babies, but both are more the all natural, eastern medicine route of infertility!

  8. And hello back to you!

    I think “wackaloon” is the politest word that could be used to describe That Woman. Related but tangential: the arboretum here has a ‘Chinese Wingnut‘ tree. They look just like the hardware. AND! They cluster together.

    I also read TCOYF prior to having kids (irregular cycles going 40, 25, 20, skip one, repeat at random lead one to think it’ll be difficult but… I was wrong) and I also really liked it. What to Expect is the only book I have ever actually tossed across a room.

    I generally avoid nonfiction because it gives me hives, but I once read Madeline Albright’s autobiography, and it was great. Also ‘Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman’ and other titles by him. If you like SF etc. and haven’t read Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, I really love it. (Vampires and things that go bump in the night.) Other interesting female authors in my recent book list: Kate Griffin, Seanan McGuire, and Kate Locke. I’ve been enjoying Benedict Jacka too.

  9. OH! I just thought of another one. Experimental Cookery by Belle Lowe. I put some excerpts here lo these many years ago, but it’s also back in print. A true food scientist of the early 20th century, discouraged from ‘real science’ by her gender, and she took micrographs of muffins. It’s amazing. McGee, step aside.

    • Thanks for visiting…and for the book recommendations. I should be set for awhile. 🙂

  10. I loved The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy or everything your doctor won’t tell you by Vicki Iovine. There is a lot of pregnancy info backed up by a whole lot of funny. Worth a read. BTW, Ms. Iovine had dealt with infertility before her body decided to cooperate and she went on to have multiple children.

    Also, I can’t pass up the chance to recommend The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. It is truly just about the best book I have ever read.

    ICLW #30

    • Thanks so much for the suggestions. I’ll have to check those out!

    • AAR

       /  May 31, 2013

      i agree. if you have Jenny McCarthy’s book (ick) on the list, then you need to read Girlfriend’s Guide!

  11. Hi! That’s an interesting list you have there. I have read #1 and #3 and a few others, the most memorable being “Is Your Body Baby Friendly?” by Dr. Alan Beer (It’s a pretty scientific book, but I’m sure you’ll have no problem with it since you’re a scientist. It’s really eye-opening – I strongly recommend it.)

  12. Great books!!!


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