There’s something about this time of year that makes “baby fever” seem very contagious and rampant. And while you can certainly find examples in both fiction and non-fiction literature of loving parents, near-perfect children, and happy upbringings, we thought we’d rain on the the baby fever parade and offer a list of fiction titles that are better than birth control. Enjoy!
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
If you’ve read this literary masterpiece, then you know exactly why it’s at the top of our list. If you haven’t read this book, please do so immediately! A harrowing tale at the heart of the “nature vs nurture” debate, We Need to Talk About Kevin presents a parent’s worst nightmare – a child who turns out to be a manipulative, sociopathic serial killer. Whether or not you have (or plan to have) children, this book will get under your skin and make you question everything you thought you knew about parenthood and families.
The Dinner by Herman Koch
If ever there was a book to remind you how children can ruin a perfectly good meal without even being there, Herman Koch’s The Dinner is it. While this magnificent novel isn’t necessarily about raising children, the plot unravels over the course of a single meal shared between two brothers and their wives who must meet to decide how to deal with the surprising and terrifying actions of their respective children. It may not sound like the most appetizing read, but let us assure you, Herman Koch knows how to stir the pot and add just enough tension to keep you at the edge of your seat.
Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray
Not only do children have the potential to completely ruin your marriage and sex life, but they also will completely ignore you – no matter how much you love, care for, and serve them. Just ask the protagonist of Calling Invisible Women – when she wakes up one day to find that, while her voice is still audible and her clothing are still visible, her flesh and bone have completely disappeared. Of course, as long as dinner is on the table and the house is tidy, no one seems to notice – not even her ungrateful husband or her unappreciative and oblivious children. A quirky, funny, but sobering novel, Calling Invisible Women plays out a fear that every mother and wife must surely face at some point – the fear of being present but completely invisible to and unappreciated by your spouse and kids.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
If you have children, or plan to have children, you really shouldn’t read The Lovely Bones. Yes, it’s an amazing novel with a well-crafted, heartbreaking story, but it also plays out every parent’s worst nightmare – the abduction, sexual abuse, and murder of a young girl. Told from the victim’s perspective from beyond the grave, The Lovely Bones is a horrifying reminder that terrible things can (and do) happen to children no matter how much we love, protect, and educate them. It’s beyond creepy and will likely make most parents paranoid, fearful and anxious every time their child leaves the room. And for those without children, it will likely reveal the vulnerability and potential for heartbreak that every parent inevitably faces.
The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
Most parents will tell you that raising just one or two kids is incredibly challenging, but imagine raising twenty-eight. Golden Richards, the protagonist of Brady Udall’s brilliant novel, has exactly that many kids spread between four wives. That many mouths to feed puts an enormous amount of pressure on Golden, and of course, his mental and emotional foundation begins to crack. Plus, some of his kids really suck. As Golden tries to relieve some of the pressure in various ways, his life at home threatens to complicate even further. Brady Udall certainly isn’t telling readers to forgo the marriage and family experience, but this novel will sure make you consider it.