Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Salon: on pregnancy cravings (the expected and the surprising)

The Sunday Salon.comOne of the questions I get most frequently from people lately "what are you craving?" I am an eater (and a drinker), and I was curious how those habits would change when I got pregnant. I miss the ability to have more than one drink less than I thought I would (most nights). I really miss rare steak, blue cheese and goat cheese. I love the ability to eat gluten again (although still, not too much of it!) And I've developed an affinity for spicy food and chocolate much to the delight of Mr. Nomadreader, as those are two of his favorite good groups.) And, no, I haven't had the dreaded pregnancy heartburn (at least not yet), so I'm really enjoying my exploration of spicy foods and not-so-secretly hoping I won't lose the ability to enjoy spicy foods after the nomadbaby arrives.

But what I've been most surprised about is a craving of a very different sort: classic literature. I anticipated spending my pregnancy days lounging on the couch or in the hammock (weather dependent) reading as many books as possible. I felt a sense of urgency to read ahead and get to the fall new releases I'm most excited about because I have no idea what life after August 9th (give or take) will look like in my reading life. Yet I keep finding myself wanting to turn to the classics too.

I admit, I'm one of those readers who hated the classics in school. I loved to read, but I was strictly a contemporary, realistic fiction young lady (with the occasional genre fiction piece thrown in.) Required reading was almost always boring reading, and it kept me from the reading I wanted to be doing. Over the years I've discovered that there are classics I like, but it never seems as though they're at the forefront of conversations, so why read them when I can read the books people are talking about? It's one of the perils of book blogging and the bookish Twitter-sphere. Essentially: the classics have survived for this many years without me reading them, so won't they always be there? Why now?

At the heart of this desire is the single biggest change I've noticed in pregnancy: a shifting idea of time. Admittedly, this year feels like the longest one of my life. I am not someone who enjoys pregnancy (but I am so very happy to be pregnant.) Every day is a challenge, and while it's totally worth it (right, nomadbaby?), it's not an experience I care to have more than once. Yet I know this seemingly interminable year will be followed by perhaps the fastest year of my life. Watching the nomadbaby grow from birth to one year old will fly by, if all of my friends are to be believed. Yes, the days are long, but the months and year are short. There are so many changes and milestones the first year.

My sense of time is also changing in terms of ancestry. I find myself even more fascinated than usual by family trees and the combination of lineages. Mr. Nomadreader and I both hyphenated our names when we got married. It's been awesome to be the only two people in the world with our last name, and soon there will be a third. Our little family is an island of its own name.

One of things I most want to pass on to the nomadbaby is a love of reading. I spend a lot of time thinking about it. I've switched back to reading The New Yorker in print and plan to read more print books because I want to more obviously model reading for him. While I've always been a big believer that although there are books of varying quality, reading is more important than what you read. So why the classics if they're not what I've enjoyed most in the past?

Perhaps having a child makes me confront my own age and the speed of life. If I keep putting them off, I'll never get to them because there will always be too many books to read. And there are classics that appeal to me immensely and feel like gaps in my reading (there are also plenty I'm okay knowing the basic plot points about and never reading.)

So which are calling out to me loudest? Today it's Jane Austen, the Brontes, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edith Wharton, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Eliot, Henry James, and E.M. Forster. Some I've read before and enjoyed. Some I've read before and despised but want to give another chance. And some I've (shamefully) never read. Every book I pick up lately seems to reference characters (or experiences in the form of non-fiction) reading the classics, and those make me want to immerse myself even more deeply in the shared experiences.

Yet as strong as this craving is, I'm having so much fun reading whatever strikes my fancy. I stopped accepting books with specific review dates while I was pregnant, and I love the freedom to read what I want when I want to read it. I'll never find my way through all the books I want to read, but I do hope I start to sprinkle in a few more classics to round out my reading.

 Now tell me: which classics should I definitely make room (and which should I avoid?)

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  1. Fave classics: anything by Willa Cather (gorgeous and easy to sink into); Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House; Jane Eyre because Jane Eyre; Madame Bovary by Flaubert because it's twisty and great.

  2. Having recently finished OLIVER TWIST, I would suggest that's one that could be skipped - for several reasons. Couldn't stand it.

    I also got very interested in researching our family tree when we were expecting our twins. I felt it was important to answer some questions that we were always wondering about. It was interesting and informative, and I'm glad I did it, even though I didn't stick with it for too long thereafter.

    August will be here before you know it!

  3. I really need to read Jane Eyre one of these days. Shirley Jackson was knee-deep in motherhood when she was writing, I believe, so stick to her fiction for now! ;) What about Bleak House? Or The Forsyte Saga, if you want a family saga to sink into for a few weeks.

  4. I adore the classics. You will remember the books you've read while pregnant too. That is another upside to reading these special books during your special time.

    Lately though, I am just trying to get through my review list and so the classics are pushed to the back right now. Except for the one my book club picked for next month The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

  5. I have been incredibly lucky and avoided the pregnancy heartburn, and I'm 37 weeks. Fingers crossed you are lucky too. But apart from that I'm with you - I feel like I've been pregnant FOREVER and each day feels like a week at this point.

  6. Such a sweet post Carrie! And let me tell you about how some of those days are LONG. The months and years do by so quickly but goodness some of those moments feel to last forever. I can't wait to meet your little nomadreader.

    Classics? I'm a sucker for Wuthering Heights. I'm halfway through East of Eden right now and it's a great read as well. Enjoy!

  7. Lucky you for no heartburn! I have had completely opposite cravings book-wise (I go for quick reads right now to fit in between work &etc), but I do hope that once my leave kicks in I will actually feel like settling down with a slower longer book.

    This was such a lovely post!


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