I think that I've now made it through the most popular birth-related reads out there, and I'm happy to share my thoughts about them here. Some of these are definitely geared towards midwives, doulas and childbirth educators, while others are just fictional novels that anyone could enjoy. Please send me lists of others you have enjoyed that I haven't included here!
Keep in mind I'm only discussing fictional/non-fictional "fun" reads - there are, of course, thousands of other birth-related books out there on pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.
Midwives - my very first birth-related work of fiction, read long before I was considering children or doula work. One word: terrifying. Do NOT recommend this book to any expectant parents. It is the story of a midwife who needs to perform an emergency cesarean on a woman in a remote location in the North-Eastern US, as a winter storm prevents the midwife from transferring her client to hospital. Totally gripping, edge-of-your-seat drama, but really, really terrifying. Not a positive boost for home birth.
The Birth House - In case you missed it, this was a 2011 Canada Reads nomination, and a national bestseller. Regardless of whether you're into birth or not, you must read this book, if only for its fabulous Canadian writing and content.
The Midwife (or Call the Midwife) - Written by Britain's Jennifer Worth, this is a memoir of the author's experiences working as a midwife in London's east side during the 1950s. Definitely geared to folks hankering for beautiful and touching birth stories, as well as those wanting to know more about life in post-war London. Worth is an eloquent writer, and I'm excited to read her other novels. And bonus, the BBC is making this into a television series!
The Midwife of Venice - Just finished this one! Wasn't exactly what I had expected, but was a very quick read and kept me turning the pages. The story follows Jewish midwife Hannah, and is set in 1500's Venice. If not necessarily an accurate portrayal of birth in the 1500's (although, who knows, it could be!), it was certainly interesting to learn a bit more about the Jewish ghettos and relations between Christians and Jews during that time in history.
The Red Tent - really enjoyed this one, which takes fictional liberty with the biblical story about Jacob, his 4 wives and his 12 sons. I've never read the Bible, but it was interesting to skim through passages of Genesis and compare the "real" story to this fictional account. We need more of this - female perspectives of historical events, religious or not. Women are certainly not well represented in the Bible, and this at least adds some depth and meaning to a text that may otherwise be rejected by people like me. And seriously, bring back The Red Tent. I will go gladly into the tent.
Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife - this is another one with edge-of-your-seat birth stories, the majority of which end happily. I love reading about the journey the author takes from L&D nurse in the late 60's/early 70's, to home birthing midwife in the 80's.
Here are some others I'd love to try:
The Midwife's Confession (fictional)
The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir (non-fictional, memoir)
The Midwife's Tale (fictional)
Playing Catch: A Midwife's Memoirs (non-fictional, memoir)