I'm a pretty voracious reader, but when you have two kids under two and a more than full time job, you don't get them time to read that you used to. I used to go through a book or two a week, and reading is a big part of my preferred bedtime routine. These days, though, I get to read maybe once or twice a week.
Hasn't slowed down my rate of acquisition, though. I just grabbed another three books online Friday, and soon they'll arrive to be added to the nightstand pile. It's dominated by books about kids, discipline, and parenting, with a few just for fun fiction books in between. Since the age-oriented parenting books currently dominate my stack, I figure I'll run those down first.
I had a whole slew of pregnancy books. Totally loved Great Expectations (no, not Dickens); totally despised What to Expect When You're Expecting. I've never had a book make me feel so badly about myself so fast; and every time it freaked me out enough to consult my OB, the doctor told me to chill. So I got rid of it. But Great Expectations was really helpful in understanding what was going on with my body and still treating me like a grown-up.
I never really got into a steady relationship with an infant book that tracked milestones. The good ones try hard to caveat every milestone to make sure you don't freak out when your baby seems behind the curve, and I appreciated that. Honestly, the most helpful thing for me at this phase was Gymboree. The teachers there were amazing at tailoring the classes to each child, and I swear Miss Erika is at least partially responsible for pulling me out of PPD by showing me I wasn't a total failure as a mother. The Baby Center weekly email updates were good, too.
In general, though, I thought Happiest Baby on the Block was helpful. Even though an asthmatic could have blown their 'scientific evidence' apart, the ideas themselves still worked, particularly for calming my newborns. I hear the DVD is good, too, but I instinctively devalue any book made into a movie. :)
What has really resonated for me since then is the "Your x Year-Old" series. So far my favorite is "Your Three-Year Old, Friend or Enemy?" Totally dead on description of Monkey at three, especially the fact that three-year olds push back on their Moms more than anyone else, and that it's hard (!) to not lose ground in the relationship by responding to them. The authors totally admitted they had no advice for stopping it, and suggested that you consider cutting your losses and just having someone else look after the child while that behavior continued. Awesome. No, seriously. I love these books.
They're relatively short, and written in this sort of antiquated, lovely language that reminds me of an old, British country pediatrician. ('Cause I've known a lot of those, right?) But they're frank, and do a good job of explaining why certain behaviors are taking root and offering real suggestions about what to do about it. I'm tempted to buy one for every year of age, just to have them on hand. I definitely read them in advance to know what's coming, too.
My latest purchases have been discipline related, but I'm sorry to say I haven't actually read them. I did manage to skim relevant sections of 1-2-3 Magic on the advice of friends, and it seems like it would be sound if I could get it implemented. Working on that, I promise.