69 books like A Midwife's Tale

By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich,

Here are 69 books that A Midwife's Tale fans have personally recommended if you like A Midwife's Tale. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Testament of Youth

Deborah Carr Author Of The Poppy Sisters

From my list on World War One that live rent free in my head.

Who am I?

I discovered my passion for the First World War when researching my great-grandfather’s service history in the cavalry. I also write historical fiction with several of my books being set during the First World War and have spent thousands of hours over the past twenty years researching different aspects of this period, both from the point of view of the V.A.D.s, wounded soldiers, medical staff treating them, as well as grieving families. The stories I’ve come across never fail to haunt me and I can’t imagine I’ll ever tire of wanting to discover more about the people who survived these experiences, or stop needing to write books about them.

Deborah's book list on World War One that live rent free in my head

Deborah Carr Why did Deborah love this book?

I first read this book about twenty years ago and still find it heartbreaking to think it was written by someone who experienced first-hand the horror of the First World War and with it so much pain and grief brought about not only from her experiences as a V.A.D. but also from her own personal losses.

It is a book that helped me understand as much as anything possibly could living in the twenty-first century, how much of a struggle it must have been for ordinary people to keep going and survive that dark time in history.

By Vera Brittain,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Testament of Youth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An autobiographical account of a young nurse's involvement in World War I.


Book cover of Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

Wendy Kline Author Of Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth

From my list on the history of childbirth.

Who am I?

I am a history professor at Purdue University and the author of several articles and three books that focus on controversies surrounding women’s reproductive health. I have also appeared on national television and radio, most recently on the PBS documentary, American Experience (the Eugenics Crusade), as well as the Vox/Netflix documentary “sex, explained.”

Wendy's book list on the history of childbirth

Wendy Kline Why did Wendy love this book?

I could not put this book down. Vincent is a licensed home birth midwife in California, and Baby Catcher represents her accounts of many of her clients’ births. Her stories capture the diversity of experiences, the fears and joys of each mother who has opted for an out-of-hospital birth, and the beauty of bringing new life into the world. I have assigned this book in college courses and students love it; they come out angry at how broken our system is when it comes to maternity care.

By Peggy Vincent,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A former nurse chronicles her journey into midwifery, from her dissatisfaction with formulaic delivery room procedures in the 1960s to her eventual career as a "baby catcher," and chronicles her diverse birth experiences, the women she has encountered along the way, and role of midwifery in the Unit


Book cover of Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta

Wendy Kline Author Of Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth

From my list on the history of childbirth.

Who am I?

I am a history professor at Purdue University and the author of several articles and three books that focus on controversies surrounding women’s reproductive health. I have also appeared on national television and radio, most recently on the PBS documentary, American Experience (the Eugenics Crusade), as well as the Vox/Netflix documentary “sex, explained.”

Wendy's book list on the history of childbirth

Wendy Kline Why did Wendy love this book?

Ina May Gaskin is one of the most influential midwives in the United States, whose birth manuals are widely read. This, her most recent publication, speaks to the importance of empowering women, valuing birth, and providing and supporting women’s choice of birthplace. It is smart, very readable, draws on scientific evidence, and makes you think.

By Ina May Gaskin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Upbeat and informative, Gaskin asserts that the way in which women become mothers is a women's rights issue, and it is perhaps the act that most powerfully exhibits what it is to be instinctually human. Birth Matters is a spirited manifesta showing us how to trust women, value birth, and reconcile modern life with a process as old as our species. Renowned for her practice's exemplary results and low intervention rates, Ina May Gaskin has gained international notoriety for promoting natural birth. She is a much-beloved leader of a movement that seeks to stop the hyper-medicalization of birth-which has lead…


Book cover of Make Room for Daddy: The Journey from Waiting Room to Birthing Room

Wendy Kline Author Of Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth

From my list on the history of childbirth.

Who am I?

I am a history professor at Purdue University and the author of several articles and three books that focus on controversies surrounding women’s reproductive health. I have also appeared on national television and radio, most recently on the PBS documentary, American Experience (the Eugenics Crusade), as well as the Vox/Netflix documentary “sex, explained.”

Wendy's book list on the history of childbirth

Wendy Kline Why did Wendy love this book?

I was torn between this and Walzer’s earlier book, Brought to Bed: Childrearing in America, 1750-1950. They are both wonderful books on the history of childbirth written by a leading historian. I chose Make Room for Daddy because it fills an important gap in our understanding of the transformation of birth. Here, we learn about the changing role of fathers (and expectant fathers), and their influence on hospital birth practices. She draws on a rich array of sources (letters, journals, interviews, and popular media) to illustrate how fathers became more involved in the birth experience between the 1940s and the 1980s.

By Judith Walzer Leavitt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Make Room for Daddy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using fathers' first-hand accounts from letters, journals, and personal interviews along with hospital records and medical literature, Judith Walzer Leavitt offers a new perspective on the changing role of expectant fathers from the 1940s to the 1980s. She shows how, as men moved first from the hospital waiting room to the labour room in the 1960s, and then on to the delivery and birthing rooms in the 1970s and 1980s, they became progressively more involved in the birth experience and their influence over events expanded. With careful attention to power and privilege, Leavitt charts not only the increasing involvement of…


Book cover of Circe

S.G. Slade Author Of Touch of a Witch

From my list on spellbinding novels with threads of magic woven in their core.

Who am I?

I’m a British writer with a passion for the stories of history, both real and imagined. I have always been fascinated by tales and relics of the past, old ruins, ancient buildings, mythology, and the uncanny power of the natural world. All these things connect us to the ghosts of the past. So, I write historical fantasy novels based in the England I explored growing up, but brushed with the shadow of the supernatural, magic, witchcraft, and seductive illusion. I also write straight historical fiction under the name Samantha Grosser.

S.G.'s book list on spellbinding novels with threads of magic woven in their core

S.G. Slade Why did S.G. love this book?

I read this book when I was in hospital having surgery a few years ago, and it utterly transported me away from pain and anxiety to another world.

I’ve always loved Greek myth, and I love a book that makes you question things you thought you knew, bringing another side of the story to the fore. For thousands of years, we’ve taken Odysseus’s side on his long journey home from Troy. But who was the witch Circe, and how did she come to be alone on her island in the first place?

Questions of power and justice, love and betrayal, are woven through the text, and these are the themes that never fail to stir me. Written in beautiful prose, I’ve read it twice and recommended it to everyone I know.

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

32 authors picked Circe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The international Number One bestseller from the author of The Song of Achilles, shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction

Woman. Witch. Myth. Mortal. Outcast. Lover. Destroyer. Survivor. CIRCE.

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child - not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When her gift threatens…


Book cover of The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Ninetenth-Century New York

Rebecca Frost Author Of Words of a Monster: Analyzing the Writings of H.H. Holmes, America's First Serial Killer

From my list on crimes you've never heard of.

Who am I?

I picked up my first book about Jack the Ripper the summer after college and never looked back. Since then my collection of true crime has grown to overflow my office bookshelves and I’ve written a PhD dissertation and multiple books about true crime, focusing on serial killers. The genre is so much more than Bundy, Gacy, and Dahmer and I love talking with people about the less mainstream cases that interest them, and the newer victim-centered approaches that—fingers crossed—mark a change in how we talk about criminals and victims.

Rebecca's book list on crimes you've never heard of

Rebecca Frost Why did Rebecca love this book?

Helen Jewett was a sex worker living in New York in the 1830s. She worked in a brothel under a matron, which should have been a safe enough situation—she wasn’t out on the street, at least, and others knew when she had clients. Early one morning, however, others in the house wake up to realize there’s a fire in Helen’s room, and that she’s dead. Was it a murder committed by her last client, a man quickly identified as Richard Robinson, or was it a suicide? If she hadn’t died so brutally, we wouldn’t know Helen Jewett’s name, so she’s become another victim only known for her murder. Cohen reminds us that she’s more than just her death.

By Patricia Cline Cohen,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Murder of Helen Jewett as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1836, the murder of a young prostitute made headlines in New York City and around the country, inaugurating a sex-and-death sensationalism in news reporting that haunts us today. Patricia Cline Cohen goes behind these first lurid accounts to reconstruct the story of the mysterious victim, Helen Jewett.

From her beginnings as a servant girl in Maine, Helen Jewett refashioned herself, using four successive aliases, into a highly paid courtesan. She invented life stories for herself that helped her build a sympathetic clientele among New York City's elite, and she further captivated her customers through her seductive letters, which mixed…


Book cover of Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

John Wood Sweet Author Of The Sewing Girl's Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America

From my list on Revolutionary America focus on the lives of women.

Who am I?

I'm an American historian and former director of UNC-Chapel Hill's Program in Sexuality Studies—and former pizza maker, gas pumper, park ranger, and tour guide at the house in which Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women. As a historian, I've spent my career trying to understand the lives of people in early American history who weren't well known at the time. In writing the Sewing Girl's Tale, which focuses on a survivor of a sexual assault, it was especially important to keep her at the center of the story. Ultimately, I wanted to know: What was life in the aftermath of the American Revolution like—not for some Founding Father—but for an ordinary young woman.

John's book list on Revolutionary America focus on the lives of women

John Wood Sweet Why did John love this book?

This best-selling book tells an important story about Black women's struggles for freedom and autonomy at the founding of the American nation. And tells it so well! One of my favorite things about this book is that the title is a bit misleading: this is not actually (another) book about the Washingtons.The book centers on Ona Judge, a woman who freed herself after the Revolution and forged a new life in the tumultuous world of the newly independent United States. Dramatic and suspenseful as her personal story is, this book also tells a bigger story about how it was enslaved people themselves who made the North free. Heartbreaking, heroic, dramatic, suspenseful, inspiring.

By Erica Strong Dunbar,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Never Caught as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A startling and eye-opening look into America's First Family, Never Caught is the powerful story about a daring woman of "extraordinary grit" (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation's capital. In setting up his household he brought along nine slaves, including Ona Judge. As the President grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn't abide: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to…


Book cover of Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin

Gregg Hecimovich Author Of The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts: The True Story of the Bondwoman's Narrative

From my list on recovering lost histories.

Who am I?

I am a biographer and literary scholar who loves to resurrect stories otherwise lost to history. I first felt this calling on football Saturdays at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, when I would sneak into the Rare Book Room to pore over old records, while my friends all went to the game. There I checked out manuscript boxes that told stories of the communities I inhabited. On these Saturdays, I started to see the invisible forces that created my physical world and marked my presence. Every book I picked below does the same precise work—they make visible a past that shapes our present.

Gregg's book list on recovering lost histories

Gregg Hecimovich Why did Gregg love this book?

Everyone knows the life and times of Benjamin Franklin, but what about the extraordinary experiences and opinions of his beloved sister, Jane Franklin?

“Gabby, frank, and vexed,” Jane’s life story demonstrates a smart, witty, and hardworking woman who birthed 12 children and survived the death of all of them but one. The hidden history of women in early America comes alive through Lepore’s sleuthing arts in this compelling nugget of forgotten history.

By Jill Lepore,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Book of Ages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
NPR • Time Magazine • The Washington Post • Entertainment Weekly • The Boston Globe

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

From one of our most accomplished and widely admired historians—a revelatory portrait of Benjamin Franklin's youngest sister, Jane, whose obscurity and poverty were matched only by her brother’s fame and wealth but who, like him, was a passionate reader, a gifted writer, and an astonishingly shrewd political commentator.

Making use of an astonishing cache of little-studied material, including documents, objects, and portraits only just discovered, Jill Lepore…


Book cover of Little Women

Virginia Pye Author Of The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann

From my list on a woman writer finding her own voice.

Who am I?

I love novels that show female characters finding their way in life, and especially women who use writing to help themselves to grow and evolve. Finding my own voice through writing has been my way of staking my claim in the world. It hasn’t always been easy for us to tell our stories, but when we do, we’re made stronger and more complete. The protagonist of my novel The Literary Undoing of Victoria Swann fights hard to tell her own story. I know something about being held back by male-dominated expectations and Victoria’s situation could easily take place today. But when women writers finally find their voices, the works they create are of great value. 

Virginia's book list on a woman writer finding her own voice

Virginia Pye Why did Virginia love this book?

The much-loved American tale Little Women tells the story of four sisters in Civil War era Concord, Massachusetts, and their quests for love and happiness.

Based on author Louisa May Alcott herself, the character of Jo March, the second daughter, is headstrong, independent, and loves to read and write. Many young female readers have taken Jo as a role model because she speaks her mind and pursues her goals—writing first among them.

Much like my own character Victoria Swann, writing helps Jo forge her independence and it becomes clear as the story progresses that it’s her voice telling the family’s tale. Many bookish girls—me included—can thank Jo for encouraging the dream of becoming a writer.  

By Louisa May Alcott,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Little Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Louisa May Alcott shares the innocence of girlhood in this classic coming of age story about four sisters-Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.

In picturesque nineteenth-century New England, tomboyish Jo, beautiful Meg, fragile Beth, and romantic Amy are responsible for keeping a home while their father is off to war. At the same time, they must come to terms with their individual personalities-and make the transition from girlhood to womanhood. It can all be quite a challenge. But the March sisters, however different, are nurtured by their wise and beloved Marmee, bound by their love for each other and the feminine…


Book cover of A Discovery of Witches

Kay Kenyon Author Of The Girl Who Fell Into Myth

From my list on fantasy that twist stories you thought you knew.

Who am I?

Here are words I like for their feel, especially when they describe fantasy: surprise; twist; subvert. I am generally a mild-mannered writer, but I do love the passing strange. By that I mean, twisty, not shocking. Surprising and intriguing, but grounded in a relatable story. A story with something wondrous and unexpected but also deeply human. I’ve written eighteen fantasy and science fiction novels, and each time, though I am creating a strange—hopefully wondrous, place—central in the story are people who desire, fear, love, and strive.

Kay's book list on fantasy that twist stories you thought you knew

Kay Kenyon Why did Kay love this book?

Romance, exotic settings, mystery. A summer read? Yes, but with great “extras.” Some surprises: The lovers are mature, even wise.

So much for the swept-away falling for the demon bad boy! Then, altering the usual clash-of-supernatural-beings fantasy trope, they possess complex histories singly and among themselves. I especially noted, and took away a keen perception, that if a story has an extremely powerful man (vampire), then for the romance to work, the woman must be equally strong.

A great challenge for authors like me who usually include a romantic interest.

By Deborah Harkness,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked A Discovery of Witches as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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