Guest blogger Michelle Kemper Brownlow: While cleaning out my office and reorganizing my books recently, I found some titles I'm never going to get rid of. Some I keep for the giggles they give me; some are intense fiction; some are filled with knowledge about child rearing. My five faves have gotten me through some rough times, and I thought I should share them with you.
1) "The Discipline Book," by William Sears, MD, and Martha Sears, RN (1995). My mom friend Lynn recommended this book to me while I was pregnant with my first child. Thirteen years later, it's still on my shelf. The husband-and-wife team explains everything that you know you should be doing but aren't -- as well as those things you had no idea would help you keep your sanity. "Disciplining Bothersome Behaviors" and "Spanking: No? Yes? Sometimes?" are just two of the chapters that I have highlighted so much the pages are wearing thin. It may have been published in 1995, but their theory is timeless.
2) "Couplehood," by Paul Reiser (star of the '90s sitcom "Mad About You"). This is a ridiculously hysterical look inside a marriage. Not only is every word hilarious, but the book is filled with truths you never knew existed in other people's marriages. I laughed so hard that my husband gave up trying to watch TV on more than one occasion. "A lot of couples shower together," writes Reiser. "It's supposed to be romantic and sensual. Truth? It's not all it's cracked up to be. Because one of you is not getting water. One of you, therefore, is not taking a shower." You can imagine where it goes from there. Way too funny!
3) "The Yada Yada Prayer Group," by Neta Jackson. This one had me laughing and crying all the way through its 385 pages. In no other book are an ex-con, a former drug addict, a real estate agent, a college kid and a wife and mom of two thrown into a succinct storyline that you can follow the whole way through as if you actually knew the people you were reading about. Little did Jodie Baxter, career good girl, know that this mishmash of new friends she didn't even think she wanted would come to her rescue in her biggest time of need ....
4) "If I Stay," by Gayle Forman. This has been borrowed by more people than I have ever loaned a book to in my life. I posted my awe of this story on Facebook the day I finished it, and immediately had a sort of sign-up sheet in the comments section of everyone who wanted to borrow it. When a tragic accident leaves Mia, the perfect teen, in limbo between life and death, she realizes that some of the things she'd lived for had been taken away. This book recounts one day of Mia's comatose life as she struggles to decide whether to stay or go -- to live or die. All I can say is, OMG!
5) "Because I Said So," by mommy-blogger sensation Dawn Meehan. This is the all-time funniest book I have ever read, and one I will forever keep two copies of. I would laugh so hard while reading this book that my children started begging me to read it to them. The author has six children, and the shenanigans she endured on any given day had our entire family in stitches. My son actually lent the book (my extra copy ... exactly why I keep two on the shelf) to his language arts teacher, and she ended up reading excerpts to her class. If you have ever had a disposable diaper explode in the washer, had your child bathe in maple syrup in a restaurant or promised yourself, "My child will NEVER do that," you need to get yourself this book. It will keep you giggling long after you put it down. The best part? Dawn's second book, "You'll Lose the Baby Weight (and Other Lies about Pregnancy and Childbirth)," is coming out in November. I have set up camp in the Barnes & Noble parking lot, waiting for that day!