A Healthy Stepmother . . . Top 5 books for summer reading.

My library has always been extensive. I L-O-V-E books. My sister and I used to walk to the one-room library in our small town in Southern Oregon and carry home as many books as we could manage in our arms. We went weekly to the library for years and there came a day when the librarian looked at us and said, “You girls should go to the County Library, they have a bigger selection.” By that time, our older brother was driving so we’d beg him to take us. And so it went. I’ve always read. Always loved reading.

Lately, my reading list leans dramatically toward non-fiction and I seem to devour it with the same intensity as I did those fiction stories of my childhood. Thank goodness for the Kindle for iPhone, my shelves can have a break from the weight of the actual books. There are a lot of books out there for stepmothers, seems like everyone has an idea what we should do, feel, say, think, or know. And, not just for stepmothers, for women in general. We can learn about parenting, gardening, being skinny, and beautiful, all in one book or magazine. How convenient.

But, maybe a certain topic deserves a deeper look? Among the many, many titles, my top 5 favorites of all the books on my shelves, virtual or actual, include the following:

  • Stepmonster, Wednesday Martin. This book is a must-read. The bible of stepmothering. Dr. Martin doesn’t tell you what to do, she gives you information and lets you make decisions that fit for your situation. She seems to recognize that so very many factors play into the role of marrying a man with children from a previous marriage. Haha, I almost wrote, “marrying a man with a pre-existing condition.” Haha, must be my healthcare training slipping in there.

  • Slow Down Diet, Marc David. It’s not a diet book. Down with diet books. Bah humbug. Though I’ve heard that Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet is also not a diet and I want to look at that. But, Marc David’s book is about getting back to having a healthy perspective on food and the role it plays in your life. Simply, buy the best quality of food you can afford and it will be so satisfying, you won’t eat the other stuff. He writes about why women exercise, but still can’t break the barrier of weight loss.

  • Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel. Dr. Wednesday Martin suggested this book in her blog not so long ago and I devoured it. Honestly, thank you, thank you. It’s time to get out of the old habit of “sit down and talk.” Yup, need to share, yup, need to care, but we do and we’re still stuck. I mean the collective “we.” Women, we need some fresh ideas and this book is good for more than a few. My favorite part of it, the stories of the couples. Very informative.

  • The Blessings of a Skinned Knee, Wendy Mogul. I’ll admit to reading this book even though I have no children of my own. After working with and observing families for nearly 30 years, reading this book was a little like going back for a few credits of continuing education. Great read, awesome perspective.

  • Hold Me Tight, Sue Johnson. And, really this one should be the first on the list. I’m only part way through it, which is why it’s here on the bottom. We’re taught in our culture to keep a stiff upper lip, to be competent and self-reliant, not needy, not anxious, non-emotional. Dr. Johnson describes in lay-terms her ideas about attachment and love and why adults need the same assurances and reassurances that children do. She even says that most of her colleagues didn’t agree with her when she first began her line of research. And oh, THAT got my attention. Because if 50% of first marriages and almost 65-70% of second marriages end in divorce, we need the something new. It can’t be that ALL those couples didn’t make good decisions. Sure some of them did, and my hunch is that a huge percentage of them got caught in the trap of the culture and what we think we’re “supposed to do.”

Happy Summer Reading. Dig down, dive in, get under the covers with your flashlight like my sister and I did and read ALL NIGHT. I’ll be curious what you think. And, please feel free to add your favorite book to the comments. Maybe we’ll compile the “best book list for stepmothers that ever was!”

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