March 6, 2007

Baby Name Books

I'm working on a post, but I'm not getting it right. It's about pregnancy weight gain, and I keep getting so pissed as I'm writing, I am beginning to think that what I'm actually writing is a rant. Nothing wrong with rants, I like rants, but I was hoping for a different effect, something more...detached. The post is also way, way too long, the kind of length not even a very interested reader would tackle, but I can't cut out a single word--and in fact, when I try, I end up adding words. This is another indicator that what I have on my hands is a rant. I think I'd better back away slowly and come back to it later.

Instead I will write about my new baby name book, which is a disappointment but not the kind of disappointment that provokes a too-long, too-angry post. This is more a situation where the book is pretty good, but not as good as I'd hoped.

The book is The Baby Name Bible by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, and they get off on the wrong foot with me right away by claiming to have started the WHOLE IDEA of choosing baby names: before they came along with their first baby-name book about 20 years ago, everyone just picked names out of thin air without giving it a moment's thought.

They go on to bother me by saying that my goal should be to "fall in love with" a baby name. This makes me feel pressured and tense. I've only "fallen in love with" one of the four names we've used so far, and I still do feel all crushy about it. The other three, I liked well enough, and then they grew on me even more. I'm just trying to find a name I like well enough to use, and when they tell me I have to be in love, I feel overwhelmed and discouraged.

Many of the name entries seem to be there only to plump the total number of names high enough that they can say "50,000+ baby names!" on the cover. The authors seem to think so, too, because the descriptions for these names are things like "Don't even think about it" and "Only for girls." Other descriptions seem to go for the easy joke rather than actually giving an opinion of the name.

I'm not sorry I bought the book. For one thing, I like to buy a new baby name book with each pregnancy, as a sort of Happy Pregnancy present. But if I were buying a baby name book for someone else, I would definitely, definitely go with The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg instead. It's my top favorite so far. I love the entries enough to read them straight through one after another, even for names I'm not at all interested in using. I love the sibling name suggestions, which not only give actual good suggestions, they're also intended to give you an idea of the kind of category other people will put your child's name into.

Oh, I will give you a sample entry. This is what it says for the name Oliver, which we are not going to use because we have a cat named Oliver, but otherwise I think it's almost for sure we'd be using it for this baby:
Popularity: #243
Style: Antique Charm, English, Saints, Shakespearean
Nicknames: Ollie
Sisters: Helena, Cecilia, Lucy, Sophie, Violet
Brothers: Julius, Leo, Edgar, Felix, Solomon
Oliver seemed a little eccentric a generation ago, but fashion has come around to its charms. The name's offbeat style now sounds handsome and rakish. Oliver is already in full fashion flower in the U.K., where they've always appreciated unconventional heartthrobs.

There are longer descriptions later in the book of all the style categories, and other examples of names within those categories. There is also a little graph next to each name, showing how its popularity has risen or fallen over the years, and where it peaked. I lurrrrrrrrrrrrrve it. I want to marrrrrrrrrrrrrrry it. It's no wonder other books fall short.


penny said...

Who can NOT rant about pregnancy weight gain? I gained 65 pounds during mine! OB #1, a petite 5'3" childless woman, used to comment on it all the time. To the effect of, "blah blah blah healthy as a horse blah blah and by the way YOU'RE GAINING TOO MUCH WEIGHT WATCH THAT CALORIC INTAKE." And then she'd zip out the door before I could think of a snappy retort, something like "shut the hell up you waif."

So I fired her, and got a new OB who didn't comment on my weight at all.

Also, I've lost all but 12 pounds of it, and I'm still breastfeeding so I'm hoping the last 12 comes off either when I'm done with the breastfeeding or when the spring comes and I can run outside again without fear of slipping on the ice.

And see, even my comment about pregnancy weight was lengthy. So rant away.

Tessie said...

I look forward to your pregnancy weight gain rant as well. I, for one, will keep reading regardless of length!

Love how the Baby Name Wizard book gives sibling name suggestions!

nowheymama said...

Again, it's your blog. Rant if you want!

Mimi said...

Oh my gosh! Thank you so much for using "Oliver" as your example. That's my 14-month boy's name, and I've been unsure about what we'd name any future children. So that gave me great ideas. I might also have to buy that book. Sounds great.

Also, please do let us read your post about pregnancy weight gain! I am interested on your take.

Swistle said...

Mimi-- I am jealous. I love the name Oliver so much, I said to Paul that I thought we should just go ahead and use it, so what if it's the cat's name. The cat is 13 years old, so maybe it wouldn't be an issue much longer, if you catch my drift. But he said his mother would NEVER SHUT UP about it, and she ALREADY never shuts up. Also, I started imagining when the cat died and I would have to use the name with the word 'died,' and anyway we're not going to use it. But I badly want to. There aren't any names I like as much.

Jennifer said...

Who doesn't rant about pregnancy weight gain? Even those who don't gain much, don't like the gaining part!

Oliver is a great name!

I've never bought a baby name book. I just use the ever trusty internet!

theflyingmum said...

I say go with Oliver if you like it. my sister named her daughter Jessica - our childhood dog was named Jessie (actually Jessica P. Stone - another story, another time...) My sister only got a wee little bit of razzing because of it and I really don't know if my niece even knows of this connection. We all love Jessica, despite how wretched her namesake was.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you already know about this, but its one of the coolest naming website tools I've ever seen.

Swistle said...

Anonymous-- I LOVE that online baby name toy thing! In fact, Paul sent me the link to the toy first, and after playing with it obsessively for about an hour, I saw there was a book and ordered it sight unseen!

Linda said...

Loving a good rant. I didn't put as much weight on as expected when I was pregnant, but unfortunately for me, far too much has gone on since. Love your blog, I'll be back! All the best to you.