***Please be aware that this page is a work in progress, I will soon be adding more details to each book listed such as triggers etc, so please check reviews first if you would like to know more***
For many, myself included, reading is a sanctuary; an escape.
For some, reading stories that always have a baby or motherhood related happy ending can be very painful and cause emotional distress. It can make us feel that our sanctuary is no longer a safe place.
I want to highlight books that tell the other story. Not every happy ending includes a baby. Women are so much more than just a womb; that’s just as important in literature as it is in life. As part of my hunt for picks for the NoMo Book Club, I sometimes find beautiful books that deserve a mention of their own. So, if you’ve ever looked for yourself in fiction and found it lacking, dive into my NoMo friendly choices below.
BE SEEN. BE HEARD. WE ARE HERE.
This is a growing library of books so check back for new additions based on what I’ve been reading and if you have any suggestions for additions please get in touch.
Click the book images to purchase your copy on Amazon UK. By doing so, you will be supporting my blog through the Amazon Affiliates Programme. Thank you.
— charlotte wood
Four women have been friends for decades, but what happens when one of them dies? This book is set over a single weekend in which the remaining women gather to clear out the home of the one they lost. There are very few triggers in this book, written by a childless woman, and the one character that does have an adult child has so much more to her that it is hardly even mentioned.
This is a story of friendship, loss and love. A former Gateway Women book club read, I urge anyone wondering about ageing to give this a go; I hope you won’t be disappointed.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine — Gail Honeyman
A bestseller and former pick of Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club, if you’re a bookworm like me the chances are you’ve heard of this.
Eleanor is a unique heroine (without children) who meets her male opposite and through supporting an older man who takes a fall, finds a way to combat her isolation and loneliness. An atypical love story, Eleanor has touched the hearts of many.
I love the originality of this book, and the fact that happy endings can come in all shapes and sizes.
— candice carty-williams
This book starts with Queenie finding out she had been pregnant and miscarried while on contraception. This theme continues through the book however I chose to add this here because the general view is that this isn’t the only way a woman’s life can progress.
Queenie is a 25-year-old Londoner navigating her way through life and love and never quite getting it right. She is a little bit of all of us.
This book starts as a hilarious tribute to being a woman in modern times, but quickly descends to much darker places. It touches on mental health and the feeling of loneliness and loss after a relationship breakdown. It can give a little too much information sometimes and highlights how important it is to have a tribe. Something we childless women need so much. And most importantly, the book doesn’t end with a baby or pregnancy.
how to save a life
— liz fenton & lisa steinke
This is a story told from the perspective of a young man who, through some unknown force, finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. A day in which the estranged love of his life dies, and he fails to save her.
Although this isn’t a book about childlessness particularly, it is a book about figuring out how to carry on when life doesn’t go as you had planned.
one year of ugly
— caroline mackenzie
I loved how this book transported me to a place that is so different to my normal environment that I couldn’t help but lose myself in its pages. For a few hours I was able to stop looking out of the window at the rainy British summer in favour of the hot, heady Caribbean contained within the pages of this hilarious debut.
The story revolves around a large family, which could be triggering for some, and there are babies in it too, but for the most part it is not a story about happy endings. It’s romantic, funny, and poignant and I would recommend reading it on a beach (or just a sunny park!) Our heroine, Yola, remains childless throughout the book.
Since finding my tribe on Gateway Women, I have been so inspired to find and help other women struggling to navigate the unexpected (and often unwanted) life of childlessness. These two books have helped immeasurably and I recommend you start here if you are at the beginning of your journey through this new reality.