One of the core tenets of The New Fatherhood, and life in general, is there are a few key things that significantly influence your outlook and alter the trajectory of your life. The people you hang out with are one. The place you live, another. The things you watch and listen to, natch. And of course, numero uno, IMHO: the booksyou read.
There are books that transformed the way I see the world and navigate through it. Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work and Steal Like An Artist are embedded in the gestation, and ongoing execution, of this project. I regularly gift one to close friends, at times when I feel it might nudge their path in an interesting direction. Getting Things Done by David Allen was a book I read as an impressionable 18-year-old, and formed the backbone of an organisational system I still use to this day, and without which this newsletter surely wouldn’t exist. Or Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright, which promised to explain “the science and philosophy of meditation and enlightenment” to an equally impressionable 34-year-old, halfway through his time in San Francisco, an on-ramp to concepts a younger, sceptical man might have turned his nose up at, and a centrifugal book that broke open the door to much of what I hold sacred today.
There are brilliant parenting books, too. Ones that make it mercifully easier. But just like the wider world of literature, they’re not all good, and the great ones are few and far between. I shared that video from The Whole Brained Child a few weeks back, a parenting book I return to regularly; its framework is never far from mind in a fiery parenting moment. Your Baby, Week by Week which was an absolute must during year one, a period where you could time baby milestones almost to the minute, providing daily reassurance that whatever our precious bundle was doing RIGHT NOW was normal, and we had nothing to worry about. But I’m still a little miffed that Emily Oster didn’t write Cribsheet in 2014. That would have saved significant time, pain and general anxiety.
OK. There you have a few books from me. This weekend, let’s hear your essential parenting books. It could be a handbook that helped you navigate a particular period of your child’s development. It could be a tome that unlocked a new perspective on the world and contributed to the (hopefully well-rounded) parent you are today.
Come on. Let’s be ‘avin ‘em.
Short aside: you may have noticed more affiliate links around lately. I’ve been experimenting with a new way to raise money for the Therapy Fund—by taking a couple of quid from big sites if you buy something. There was $10 that came in last month. It’s not going to bankrupt Bank Amazon. But it’s $10 out of their pocket towards a dad who could benefit from it. I’m trying to figure out how to offer Bookshop.org as an option, and keep that money out of Seattle entirely. But it’s not been as easy as I’d have liked. Watch this space.
Or, increasingly, the newsletters you read ;)
I think William B. Irvine's book 'A Guide to the Good Life' helped put life in general into perspective and make me more appreciative of the time I have with my kids right now, because these moments won't last forever.
Hold On To Your Kids by Gabor Maté and Gordon Neufeld is the book that has most influenced the way I think about my child, parenting, and even my own parents.