You may remember that I wondered whether Ernest Hecht of Souvenir Press would ever forgive me for that cheap jibe about Arsenal football club a while back, well thankfully he did (and he's made one about Plymouth Argyle in return! )and while I was in London a few weeks ago it was my complete pleasure to stop by and meet him up in his Souvenir Press eyrie opposite The British Museum.
When the Souvenir Press catalogue arrived I was completely mesmerised by such a wide-ranging list.There can't be a single subject that they haven't published a book about and, to my utter amazement, many that I have been unwittingly using and referring too for many years in my day job.It was a pleasure and privilege to talk to Ernest for a couple of hours and browse and talk about the books, so this the first of several posts bringing some unusual books off the Souvenir Press shelves.
The search for the unusual book is unceasing this end and to find so many in one place was quite a treat.Today a bit of a work-related selection.
Vimala McLure for example is responsible for the great resurgence in Infant Massage around the world, establishing the International Association which organises much of the training and with whom I completed mine about six years ago.I rate this as one of the most beneficial skills I have acquired in thirty-five years of nursing practice, few days pass when I don't demonstrate some aspect of the process to new parents.It is a perfect tool for containing and reducing anxiety, the babies love it and you have immediately equipped parents with a useful and very rewarding skill.
Well the handbook that I learnt from and constantly refer to was published by Ernest Hecht at Souvenir.
Then there was Michel Odent.
He of the natural childbirth and water birth school, so radical and controversial back in the mid 1980's but now standard practice at many home and hospital deliveries.I have heard Michel Odent speak, he is a quietly charismatic man and his gentle French accent alone would convince me to swim the channel if it helped the birth process.So imagine my surprise when I discover that it was Ernest Hecht who brought his work to the forefront here in the UK.
There is no question it was controversial and certainly there were aspects of Michel Odent's approach that many felt needed to be moderated slightly.But there was no doubting his passion for a new philosophy of childbirth and we have Michel Odent to thank for taking the flak and defending his theory that mothers play the key role in the birth experience.The introduction to the latest edition offers a balanced and sensible evidence-based approach that encompasses both natural, assisted and caesarian births. All have to be considered as legitimate and necessary but it's the timing of the decisions that is crucial.
Kangaroo Babies,a Different Way of Mothering by Nathalie Charpak is more of the same; innovation that becomes best practice.Kangaroo care is now used in many neonatal units again as standard and I constantly recommend it at home for agitated newborns. It builds on the skin to skin contact between mother and baby as soon as possible after birth and now for a much longer period. In the ensuing weeks I'm always telling fraught dads to tuck crying babies down inside their shirts, next to their skin, it really does work and there is strong physiological evidence to back up the benefits.
To see the shelves at Souvenir Press lined with all the books that have become definitive texts on bereavement, depression, cognitive therapy, inner child therapy and so much more, all now watchwords in the "trade" was like a journey through thirty years of working in GP surgeries.
Finally one that I shall be reading cover to cover because it seems to remain the perennial child-rearing problem out there next to tantrums and toilet training,The Sleep Book for Tired Parents Help for Solving Children's Sleep Problems by Rebecca Huntley.I devour every new sleep book that comes out because anything else that might help the beleagured millions has to be good news.