Laura Wood

This week Dr. Laura Wood talks about the three books which influenced her eye-opening memoir.


I don’t care about your book! Instead tell me about three books which influenced your book…


Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood


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Lockwood has been hailed ‘The Poet Laureate of Twitter’ – like her poems and her tweets, this family memoir is just the most sublime collision of surrealism, humour, darkness, and tenderness. I just adore how she turns a phrase. She doesn’t shy away from the painful things, the complexities of family life: it’s a very unflinching sort of book, and yet it’s so funny and so loving at the same time. This is, essentially, what I hope to achieve with All My Worldly Joy. Lockwood taught me that it is possible to be lyrical and literary, and grounded and funny, all in one breath.


Nobody Told Me by Hollie McNish 


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These poems are essentially a diary in verse from the moment that Hollie discovered that she was pregnant to her daughter’s third birthday, and they embrace, well, all the things that you don’t usually read poems about: morning sickness, postnatal sex, breastfeeding, the resentment and then the guilt about the resentment… It’s so honest it makes you want to cheer. It’s this brilliant feminist frank acknowledgement of – and celebration of – the reproductive female body. As someone who has a tendency to live in her head and detach from her body, I have needed this reminder to ground myself and to bring the corporeal back to the centre – of my life and my book.


The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath


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I was reluctant to list this one, because Plath has become a stereotype for the mad and miserable female. She’s associated with angsty adolescence, and we’re supposed to outgrow her; but, revisiting this novel as an adult, I’m struck by what an injustice that is. The Bell Jar isn’t cheerful, I’ll admit, but it’s a phenomenal bloody book. It’s so incisive as a commentary on being a woman in a man’s world; and it’s the most accurate and beautifully described account of living in a depressed state that I’ve ever read; and it’s fantastically darkly funny. Plath is so good at capturing how it feels, which is something I aspire to. When you read something and realise that someone, even someone long dead, felt as you do, it’s the most wonderful moment of connection.


Oh, ok – tell me about your book then…


All My Worldly Joy by Laura Wood


In 2014, I was admitted, with my six-week-old son, to a psychiatric mother and baby unit, after a traumatic emergency caesarean section left me with PTSD. All My Worldly Joy is my memoir of motherhood and mental health. I reflect upon the impact of birth trauma, how others can help or harm in the aftermath and how traumatic experiences change us and direct us. It’s my unflinching account of the struggle of parenting through mental illness, but it is ultimately hopeful – a story of self-discovery, of purpose, and of profound love.