When I think of summers from my youth, reading is the first thing that comes to my mind. My grandma used to babysit us at her house for the months that school was out. And I’d curl up on one of those long, reclining lawn chairs on the carport of her ranch house in Central Pennsylvania, with a big stack of books. I probably checked out 10 chapter books every week from the local library. Invariably, I plowed through all of them.
I can picture some of them now. Harriet the Spy. Freckle Juice. And so many series – Nancy Drew (The Secret of the Old Clock got me hooked). Agatha Christie. (And Then There Were None was my favorite.) And Cherry Ames, the tales of a WWII traveling nurse.
When I got to high school, we had tons of assigned summer reading. From David Copperfield, to Travels with Charley in Search of America, to Dr. Zhivago, the choice of what to read was largely out of my hands. But I wasn’t upset to be told to read.
These days, I find myself reading more nonfiction than fiction. (Mostly books relevant to working parenthood. Shocking, I know.) And my reading comes in much smaller doses than the long, leisurely summer days at my grandma’s. 10 minutes here. A chapter before bed, there. A few pages during lunch. I’ll take what I can get.
Reading fiction still makes me really happy, though. As we packed up to leave for a summer family road trip this year, I hesitated before putting a novel in my suitcase. I didn’t want to be disappointed, if I didn’t get a chance (i.e. didn’t prioritize myself enough to make the time) to read it. But I considered how much joy it would bring me to read a particular book that had been on my bookshelf, begging to be read, for many years. So Commonwealth by Ann Patchett came with me on our travels.
I did in fact make the time for myself to read it, and OH was it an amazing story!!
The Joy of Author Interviews
One of the things I love most about being the CEO of Mindful Return is the creativity I’m afforded in how I spend my time in service of supporting working parents. If I have an idea that I think other working parents would find helpful, I simply get to run with it. Given my past history with books, it probably comes as no surprise, then, that I’d want part of my role to be as an interviewer of amazing authors.
Last September, I decided to start a monthly author conversation series, with authors of books I believe working parents will find helpful. And gosh has it been fun and inspiring!
If you’ve been following along with our weekly newsletter (sign up is over on the right side of this page), you have perhaps attended one or more of these. If not, I’m happy to report that they are all recorded, and you can access them – and hear these wonderful conversations – anytime. Here are all the links to access the replays of Season 1 of our Mindful Return Book Talks:
September 2021: The Nanny Connie Way: Secrets to Mastering the First Four Months of Parenthood, by Connie Simpson
October 2021: Inconceivable: My Life-Altering, Eye-Opening Journey from Infertility to Motherhood, by Alex Johnston
November 2021: Parenting with an Accent: How Immigrants Honor Their Heritage, Navigate Setbacks, and Chart New Paths for Their Children, by Masha Rumer
January 2022: Relationships to Infinity: The Art and Science of Keeping in Touch, by Jason Levin
February 2023: Lenox Takes Flight, (a book for kids about diversity and travel) by ‘Iolani Bullock
March 2023: The Expecting Entrepreneur: A Guide to Parental Leave Planning for Self Employed Business Owners, by Arianna Taboada
April 2023: Time Momagement: How to Get the Time You Need to Do the Things You Want, by Marisa Volpe Lonic
May 2023: Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World, by Eve Rodsky
June 2023: Caregiving Fathers in the Workplace: Organisational Experiences and the Fatherhood Forfeit, by Jasmine Kelland
Which one in the series sounds the most intriguing or relevant to you? I invite you to start with that one, and have a listen!
Will there be a Season 2? You bet! We kick off this week, and you can sign up for our upcoming talks using the links below! (All are held at 12pm EST on Thursdays.)
September 8, 2022: Autism with a Side of Sushi: A Story of a Japanese Mother and Her Son on the Spectrum, by Kuri Yasuno
October 13, 2022: Advice to My Younger Me: Career Lessons from 100 Successful Women, by Sara Holtz
November 3, 2022: Work, Parent, Thrive: 12 Science-Backed Strategies to Ditch Guilt, Manage Overwhelm, and Grow Connection, by Yael Schonbrun, PhD
Stay tuned for more surprises, including conversations with authors like Laura Coates, Abby Davisson, and Carla Naumburg, among others!
My Own Kids, and Reading
My boys aren’t quite the bookworms I was as a kid. For one, they are much more active. For another, summer camp keeps them occupied. And finally, they just aren’t as excited about sitting down and reading as I was (and am). I admit there are days I wish they were more enthusiastic about curling up with a good book. And when these thoughts come, I try to remind myself that they are their own people, and that everyone’s reading interests evolve over time.
I also remind myself to be grateful for the books they do love.
My oldest (age 11), for example, loves historical fiction and will read almost anything by Alan Gratz. (I’m grateful to him for suggesting I read Refugee – a beautifully-woven and important story.)
My youngest (age 9) is still a big fan of the Dog Man and Cat Kid Comic Club series. Me, less so. But he also just started reading Rick Riordan’s Daughter of the Deep (which is a sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), and I’m following along right behind him. I read a few pages at night after he goes to bed to catch up to him, so we can talk together about Riordan’s underwater adventures.
Reading will probably always bring me great joy, and I’m delighted to be able to bring the work of some truly amazing authors to this community. Hope you’ll join us for Season 2!
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave