The best books for expectant parents with curious minds

Why am I passionate about this?

Baby names are my profession and my obsession. Back when I was naming my own children, I found that the standard dictionaries didn’t capture what makes names so individual and so meaningful. So I set out to write the name book I had wanted to read: a real-world guide rooted in style, trends, culture, and history. I also focused on the decision-making process itself, which is a growing challenge in our era of information overload. An effective guide helps cut through the chaos, freeing you to enjoy the excitement of the journey ahead.


I wrote...

The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby

By Laura Wattenberg,

Book cover of The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby

What is my book about?

The Baby Name Wizard is the classic handbook of name style. More than a dictionary of meanings and origins, it uses groundbreaking research to explain each name's image and usage. Most importantly, the book is designed to guide parents to the names that fit their own unique tastes.

Look up a name and you’ll find a wealth of practical information, from nickname options to historical popularity graphs. An exclusive style analysis includes descriptions, categories the name belongs to, and suggestions of more names with a similar feeling—for both boys and girls. Start with just one or two names you like and BNW will guide you to more ideas, helping you learn about and refine your own taste along the way, until you find the name that speaks to your heart.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year

Laura Wattenberg Why did I love this book?

Don’t let the title fool you: Operating Instructions is not a guidebook. It’s an author’s classic memoir about becoming a parent for the first time. While the book isn’t new, and every family’s experience is unique, Lamott taps into something deep and relatable. Read Operating Instructions to get into the mindset of what it is to have a baby and be a parent.

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Operating Instructions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the journal of the birth of Anne Lamott's son Sam, and their first year together. Coping with being a recovering alcoholic and a single mother, Anne had to face the fact that her best friend since childhood was dying of cancer.


Book cover of Baby Bargains: Your Baby Registry Cheat Sheet

Laura Wattenberg Why did I love this book?

You are about to enter another dimension: a dimension not only of love and responsibility but of consumer goods. You have a lot of shopping decisions ahead of you, many in categories that will be completely unfamiliar to you. Before getting lost in the aisles of a superstore or allowing the hundreds of stroller models on Amazon to plunge you into despair, start with this book. It will walk you through the major types of baby gear and help you understand what factors do and don’t matter.

By Denise Fields, Alan Fields,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Baby Bargains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

America's best-selling and best-loved guide to baby gear is back with an updated and revised edition!

Yes, a baby book that actually answers the big question about having a baby: How am I going to afford all this?

With the average cost of a baby topping $7400 for just the first year alone, new parents need creative solutions and innovative ideas to navigate the consumer maze that confronts all parents-to-be. Baby Bargains is the answer!

Inside, you’ll discover:

• BEST BET PICKS for cribs, car seats, strollers, high chairs, diapers and more!

• CHEAT SHEETS for your baby registry―create a…


Book cover of Expecting Better

Laura Wattenberg Why did I love this book?

This is the pregnancy book for hardcore data-seeking parents. A hundred other pregnancy guides offer a hundred opinions, but where do those opinions come from? Anecdote, ideology, received wisdom—or actual research data? Oster, an economics professor, set out to find the data. If a bar chart of the probability of conception by cycle day is your idea of proper advice, this book is your pregnancy holy grail.

By Emily Oster,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Expecting Better as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Emily Oster is the non-judgmental girlfriend holding our hand and guiding us through pregnancy and motherhood. She has done the work to get us the hard facts in a soft, understandable way." -Amy Schumer

*Fully Revised and Updated for 2021*

What to Expect When You're Expecting meets Freakonomics: an award-winning economist disproves standard recommendations about pregnancy to empower women while they're expecting. From the author of Cribsheet and The Family Firm, a data-driven decision making guide to the early years of parenting

Pregnancy-unquestionably one of the most pro found, meaningful experiences of adulthood-can reduce otherwise intelligent women to, well, babies.…


Book cover of The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us about the Mind

Laura Wattenberg Why did I love this book?

We all know, at this point, that babies are not just little adults. But what are they? What is their experience? What are their minds doing, and what do their minds need? This book, by three cognitive science researchers, offers a glimpse at some answers. And it might just help you feel less self-conscious when you find yourself irresistibly chatting to a small person who cannot yet chat back.

By Alison Gopnik, Patricia K. Kuhl, Andrew N. Meltzoff

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Scientist in the Crib as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This exciting book by three pioneers in the new field of cognitive science discusses important discoveries about how much babies and young children know and learn, and how much parents naturally teach them. It argues that evolution designed us both to teach and learn, and that the drive to learn is our most important instinct. It also reveals as fascinating insights about our adult capacities and how even young children -- as well as adults -- use some of the same methods that allow scientists to learn so much about the world. Filled with surprise at every turn, this vivid,…


Book cover of Peek-A Who?

Laura Wattenberg Why did I love this book?

This book ushers you into one of the great joys of parenthood: reading to your child. Peek-a-Who is a marvel, a simple but compelling read-aloud that manages to draw babies into the book experience for the very first time. You’ll read it again and again, as your child comes to know each page and eagerly anticipate what comes ahead. Enjoy.

By Nina Laden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Peek-A Who? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Scholastic Parent & Child magazine's 100 Greatest Books for Kids

With colorful pictures, simple rhyming texts, and sized right for small hands to hold.

Guessing-game board book filled with vibrant, happy images: Peek-a-Who! takes the most loved baby and toddler game and puts it in book form! Colorful pictures and simple rhyming texts help children guess what's peeking through the die-cut windows in this fun board book. The anticipation of what's hiding on the next page and the bright, engaging illustrations will keep little ones guessing and giggling all the way to the surprise ending. Perfect size for…


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We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

By Amy T. Waldman, Peter Jest,

Book cover of We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

Amy T. Waldman

New book alert!

What is my book about?

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus atUW-Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

Jest established lasting friendships with John Prine, Arlo Guthrie, and others, but ultimately, this book tells a universal story of love and hope…

We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

By Amy T. Waldman, Peter Jest,

What is this book about?

The entertaining and inspiring story of a stubbornly independent promoter and club owner 

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus at UW–Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

This funny, nostalgia-inducing book details the lasting friendships Jest established…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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