Sometimes the right book at the right time makes all the difference.
This is our library of recommended books to read if you're navigating your health, body, pregnancy, or the early days of parenting. In addition, I've got a round-up of my favorite books on business, entrepreneurship, marketing and leadership. Over the past decade, I've read hundreds of books and some of them are stand-out winners for business and parenting support. Good books, crafted with love and effort by authors who take years to pour wisdom into their pages, can be life-changing. Take a look through our recommendations by category, below!
RETURNING TO WORK: BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS
If you’re pregnant and you need somewhere to start, these are the books that helped get me (and thousands of other women) through pregnancy, postpartum, and more.
RETURNING TO WORK: BEST BOOKS FOR WORKING PARENTS
The Fifth Trimester
Lauren Smith Brody
I want to gush about this book: you know how sitting down with a great writer makes you feel well taken care of? This book reads like you’re sitting down with a wise girlfriend who has taken the time to create a comprehensive manual for how to be a working mama (and how to manage the intricacies of pumping, colleague negotiations, and looking sharp for meetings).
It was funny, because the book grew on me. It didn’t start out feeling revolutionary or radical, and at times I felt like I was reading a series of magazine articles (likely because Lauren was the former editor of Glamour), yet it was so easily readable, practical, and useful. Page after page felt like I got more tips, which added up to feeling like maybe, just maybe, I could make this work.
My favorite bits were: how to get ready in under 5 minutes (and not look quite so tired), why you need to focus on getting 4-5 uninterrupted hours of sleep and the rest can be naps (that one deep REM cycle changes everything), and the lists of pros and cons for daycares and nannies. In her list of things to consider for childcare, she has a lot of questions about how you work (do you stay late? do you need flex coverage?), what kind of relationship you want to have (do you enjoy being the boss / communicating with one person?), whether you like having someone in your home, and more—and it’s not about daycare or a nanny being “better” for your child, but about finding the right fit for your family, work, and life’s needs.
Work, Pump, Repeat
Do you ever wish someone had written out all the nitty-gritty details about the logistics of something like pumping? Well, this is it. Jessica Shortall writes the MANUAL on breastpumping and it is a phenomenal resource for any woman who is pumping and going back to work. How do you make it work while at demanding jobs?
Organized into three parts, she tackles getting to know your equipment, how it works, and how to prep—from the basics, to the pump parts, to freezing and storing, to breastmilk essentials, and your legal rights in pumping and breastfeeding basics for the workplace.
Then, she goes into making it work at work—how to talk about your breasts, navigate uncomfortable conversations, carve out the time you need to pump, communicate to your colleagues, and find a private space that you can go pump 3-5 times per day. She also covers traveling, shipping breastmilk, and more. If you’re traveling, you can freeze the pouches of milk and bring a “block” of frozen milk back home—it usually lasts 24-48 hours without needing any additional ice.
The last section of the book is all about those moments when things go wrong—from supply to storage to weaning, to difficult conversations and all the feelings that can come up. For me, it took a few tries to realize that pumping while on the road was not about bringing home a perfect amount of milk, but about keeping my supply up so that I could still breastfeed when I got home, even if I lost some milk along the way.
Drop the Ball
This book takes what Lean In put down and moves it forward. Tiffany’s rallying cry for doing less meets people in partnerships where they are, and takes them through how to let go of the idea of a perfect woman doing it all. This book doesn’t serve everyone (it’s targeted at people in traditional marriages or two-partner homes, and doesn’t address the growing population of single women and parents)—but for the people it’s aimed at, it’s a wonderful start. I also interviewed her for the podcast.
When will we put down the rally cry of productivity and efficiency and allow ourselves to live fuller, more restorative, energetic lives? For women everywhere, we’re exhausted, overworked, and drained. Kate Northrup knew this feeling well, and vowed to change the status quo.
In her book, she outlines fourteen different experiments to try as you pursue a life of greater energy and more time abundance. Some of the principles I was familiar with, like the Pareto principle—or the 80/20 rule. That is, find the areas where you are in your zone of genius, and it doesn’t feel like work, where you get the majority of your results, and then cut out the rest (as much as you can). Other tips she had included accepting a LOT more help and also—asking for it! Both are hard to do, but can have pretty radical results.