My Infertility Reading List

The feeling of relating to someone has something soothing and magical. Even better if that person is a fictional character. If I feel down, or stuck in a life crisis, I love to browse my library for a comforting read or even to zap my way through Netflix to find a series that reflects my mood.

However, I noticed that I’ve never really spent time on searching for MRKH films, books nor series. This could have been quite beneficial, especially at the age of sixteen when I had just been diagnosed with the syndrome. Perhaps it has been my way of supressing it…
And unfortunately, I believe that there is a serious lack of media covering infertility (let alone MRKH). There are only two characters that come to mind, namely Robin from HIMYM and then Monica and Chandler from Friends. Why, if 1 in 5,000 women suffer from this condition, aren’t there more films or books about MRKH?

So, I decided that it was urgent to roll up my sleeves and do my own research (since infertility does not appeal to mass media). Disclaimer: I found it difficult to find books that are specifically about MRKH, but the feelings that come with infertility in general also reiterate what I felt and still feel about the syndrome.
Here’s the reading list that I put together:

  • The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
    “A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man and a crying baby. The only two islanders, Tom and his wife Izzy, are about to make a devastating decision. They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours.”
    ocean
  • The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward
    Goodreads: “In this heartrending and poignant novel, award-winning author Amanda Eyre Ward tells the story of Alice Conroe, a forty-year-old Texas barbecue owner who has the perfect life, except she and her husband long for a child. Unable to conceive, she’s trying desperately to adopt but her destiny is quickly altered by a young woman she’s never met.“
    sky
  • A House For Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi
    Goodreads: “In trendy Silicon Valley, Priya has everything she needs—a loving husband, a career, and a home—but the one thing she wants most is the child she’s unable to have. In a Southern Indian village, Asha doesn’t have much—raising two children in a tiny hut, she and her husband can barely keep a tin roof over their heads—but she wants a better education for her gifted son. Pressured by her family, Asha reluctantly checks into the Happy Mothers House: a baby farm where she can rent her only asset—her womb—to a childless couple overseas. To the dismay of friends and family, Priya places her faith in a woman she’s never met to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

    Together, the two women discover the best and the worst that India’s rising surrogacy industry has to offer, bridging continents and cultures to bring a new life into the world—and renewed hope to each other.”

    house mothers

  • Changed by T.S. Murphy
    Good news: this book (although it falls into the romance genre) deals with MRKH!

    “Kate McGuire has loved her brother’s best friend for years—an older guy who didn’t know she existed and whose smoking-hot girlfriend could punch her into next week. But now Kate’s eighteen and Quinn Haley is girlfriend-free and looking at her like she’s definitely outside the friend zone. Everything is working out perfectly—until a devastating medical diagnosis throws her life into a tailspin.

    Quinn Haley has dealt with abuse and rejection his entire life, but when he finally breaks up with his cheating girlfriend while home from college for Christmas, he realizes his best friend’s little sister has always been there for him. Only now, Kate’s all grown up and frankly adorable. Definitely not someone he wants to keep in the friend zone.

    Kate’s entire future will be a lifetime of no. No children. No sex. No Quinn. And when Quinn won’t take no for an answer, she fights him every step of the way.”
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  • Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
    Goodreads: “Somer’s life is everything she imagined it would be — she’s newly married and has started her career as a physician in San Francisco — until she makes the devastating discovery she never will be able to have children.
    The same year in India, a poor mother makes the heartbreaking choice to save her newborn daughter’s life by giving her away. It is a decision that will haunt Kavita for the rest of her life, and cause a ripple effect that travels across the world and back again.
    Asha, adopted out of a Mumbai orphanage, is the child that binds the destinies of these two women. We follow both families, invisibly connected until Asha’s journey of self-discovery leads her back to India.“
    dk
  • Elizabeth, Just Sixteen by Cecilia Paul
    MRKH read!!
    “Elizabeth Appleton is a sweet and easy-going adolescent. But as she turns sixteen, she discovers something so devastating about herself that her whole world is turned upside down. Elizabeth has been born without a womb or a vagina and is diagnosed with MRKH, an unusual congenital disorder that affects the female reproductive tract. Frightened and confused, Elizabeth must struggle to understand how she can still be a girl but no longer a ‘normal’ one. As she questions everyone and everything around her – her burgeoning sexuality, her gender, her hopes for the future – Elizabeth must fight against the shame and betrayal she feels if she is to ever become the woman she has always hoped to be. In her first novel, Cecilia Paul, now a retired expert in the field of MRKH, sensitively explores and illuminates this complex and often emotionally fraught medical condition, in order to raise public awareness of MRKH and to support those affected by it.”

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  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

    • You might have seen the Netflix adaptation. But I would still recommend the book.

    “Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…”
    atwood

  • The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
    Sounds like a very light read. But we all know that infertility is that funny.

    “Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

    Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.”

    friend zone

  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
    Even though it is not really revealed in the blurb, the protagonist suffers from infertility.

    “Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train..“

    girlonthetrain

  • Rokitansky by Alice Darwin
    A biiiig drum roll for our final star:

    Three women. Three stories. Three secrets.

    When school girl Moira Sweeney is diagnosed with a rare condition, it changes everything. She had known for as long as she could remember that something was wrong, what she didn’t know was what happened next.

    When Tori looks in the mirror, she sees a successful travel writer, happily married to Harry. Everything is just as it should be. Almost. She is all he ever wanted and less, so much less.

    Mrs Brown knows she’s getting too old to run Godalming Lodge. Her arthritis and her heart ache and she longs to spend more time with her husband and less time with elderly residents and her never ending pile of paperwork.

    Three women, with three stories of love, hope and childlessness and three secrets that connect them all.”

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    And that concludes my infertility reading list. I can’t wait to get started! The first book I purchased is The Light Between Oceans. Isn’t it strange that I have never read any books about infertility?

    What about you? Do you have any infertility reads that you would recommend that I did not include in this list? Please share them with me below in the comments, or let’s connect on instagram @myrockydances!

How to Get Out of a Reading Slump

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Slumps are grim. Reading slumps are even grimmer. They keep us from feeding our brains with thrilling stories, complex characters and their gripping journeys and developments. Essentially, reading slumps impede our minds from stocking up valuable information- from educating ourselves.

So YES, I detest reading slumps. And I’m currently in one.

As so often, I believe that I can self-diagnose my issue and I’m pretty sure that my reading slump runs back to finishing my master programme. Which, in theory is great news and yes, I am beyond happy that I can finally call myself “a literature graduate”. AND it also means that I can finally read whatever I fancy reading.

This is enormous for literature students. Only a few people understand that as a literature student reading becomes a chore. It, of course, depends on the assigned books, but if we have to read two literary fiction novels and three theoretical articles in four days, then no one should judge us for turning on Netflix at the end of the day instead of delving into Shakespeare “just for fun”. That being said, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the fact that I can finally read whatever and when I want to (Whenever, wherever, …). And thus, I identify my reading slump as a symptom of my graduation.

However, I still really enjoy reading and I don’t want to remain in that frustrating slump. Therefore, I brainstormed, researched and compiled five tips and tricks to get out of my slump and I hope that they will help you too.

1) Wake up earlier

I just heard my imaginery audience groan at this title. However, waking up earlier means that there are some extra minutes left for reading. It doesn’t need to be at five in the morning, but waking up fifteen minutes earlier to read five (or ten) pages will already help to reignite that passion for reading.

2) Read something out of your literary comfort zone…

If you’re an avid fiction reader, try out some non-fiction books and vice versa. Or explore new genres, such as fantasy, romance or horror literature. Most readers stick to one, two, maximum three genres- myself included. Yet, sometimes it’s fun to let in some new perspectives into your literary radar.

3) Calendar blocking

If I want to increase my productivity, I rely on calendar blocking. I basically fill in my entire day from 7am to 22pm to make sure that I don’t spend some valuable time on meaningless social media scrolling. Why not try to block some hours to get in that extra reading? If we treat it like a priority, it becomes a priority.

4) Reading dates

Do you have a bookworm friend, just like yourself? A fun way to get in more reading is to plan a book date together. Go to a cafe, order a large cappuccino, macchiato or tea and spend hours reading. You coud even plan in some breaks to exchange your book impressions- or even read the same book. Creativity has no limits.

5) Set yourself up for an exciting challenge

There are loads of book challenges out there. From one book a week, to seasonal to-read-lists, to “15 books everyone should read”. Sometimes it helps to set yourself up for a good old challenge. To give you an extra push, why not follow some of the amazing book bloggers, bookstagramers or booktubers out there? They have created their own reading challenges and templates which are lot of fun and easy to follow. And if following and sharing others isn’t your cup of tea, you can always create your own challenge.

There you have it! Five tips and tricks to get yourself out of a nasty reading slump!

I will certainly attempt to wake up earlier and squeeze in some extra reading minutes…