Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood” as Want to Read:
The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,108 ratings  ·  142 reviews
A brilliant exploration of the natural, medical, psychological, and political facets of fertility

When Belle Boggs's "The Art of Waiting" was published in Orion in 2012, it went viral, leading to republication in Harper's Magazine, an interview on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, and a spot at the intersection of "highbrow" and "brilliant" in New York magazine's "Approval Matrix.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Graywolf Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Art of Waiting, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,108 ratings  ·  142 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood
Oct 09, 2016 rated it liked it
A lucid and wise exploration of infertility. Belle Boggs uses her own struggle to get pregnant as a launching pad to further discuss the psychological, sociological, and financial implications of fertility and motherhood. She draws from a wide range of literature, scientific research, and current events to connect her personal life to the greater picture. I appreciated Bogg's calm voice throughout the book, as well as her inclusion of LGBT individuals' struggle and the challenges caused by racia ...more
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a courageous book written by Belle Boggs who unexpectedly found herself unable to get pregnant. She explores infertility from a variety of perspectives: biological, feministic, sociological, medical, financial, political, and psychological. The book's descriptions of the frustration, pain, isolation, envy, and anger of the infertile are heart stopping. I was particularly pleased that she included LBGT individuals among the infertile. After 5 years of struggle the author did get pregnant. ...more
Oct 07, 2016 rated it liked it
This was an interesting book on a subject about which I know shamefully little. As a person in a same-sex marriage the possibility of dealing with some of the same issues as those struggling with infertility is more than a little daunting. This book is certainly more geared towards those in heterosexual relationships dealing with infertility although there are some bits that focus on the various ways of expanding a family for those in the LGBTQ population.

I found a few bits to the book especiall
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I don't think of myself as a person who enjoys memoir, but between Maggie Nelson and this lovely book about assisted reproduction, I might be changing my mind? This is less theoretical and more journalistic than Nelson. Boggs draws from not only scientific research about human and animal reproduction, but also sociology, psychology, and literature to frame and understand her own experience with infertility. The more personal essays are especially moving and insightful. I enjoyed the chapters tha ...more
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-release, 5-star
Such a great and well researched book on infertility, adoption, IUI & IVF, surrogacy, forced sterilization, gay rights, child-free, racism & classism and probably a couple of other things that I'm forgetting. And all written in a very readable way. At the end of the book is also a listing of many resources, depending on your needs within the related categories. ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
(4.0) Well done weaving her personal story with those of others. May not want to read this if you've been trying for a long time

I've had trouble with narratives like this in the past when there are too many jumps around in time and place and characters. But she does well here. Her personal story is the primary thread, but we hear about many others' experiences waiting, trying, waiting, changing plans, giving up or finally adding a child to their families.

I wonder how difficult this book might be
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
her writing is crystal clear, and manages to convey sentiment without becoming sentimental. not nearly as detached as didion, but less compulsively self-conscious than leslie jamison. (I prefer the didion side of that spectrum, but appreciate that both exist.)

also,excellent points made about ART and IVF specifically in literature. fertility is always so loaded, and people trying to get pregnant need to see positive representations of themselves in the world, just like everybody else.
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.0 Stars

This is well-rounded evaluation of experience of struggling with infertility in North America. Told through the lens of the author's personal struggle with infertility, she evaluates the various aspects of this complex issue from ethical concerns to financial barriers. I appreciated that she included single people and same-sex couples among those who face obstacles to having children. Regardless of one's personal health situation, this is an insightful book to read.
Lisa Shusko
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Well written and a good account of some of the pain experienced in infertility, but author fell short in her adoption chapter. Felt she could have shared more uplifting stories - instead it came across as gloom and doom to go that route. Which I felt was short sighted as IVF is cost prohibitive, many don't want to take the risk to their health and it fails way more often than it succeeds. ...more
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
I did not enjoy this book.
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, science
A fascinating read - lovely personal memoir crossed with broad-reaching journalism. Like a lot of health and reproductive topics, this is one I know affects a ton of people but I don't know a whole lot about it because it's often too personal/emotional/shameful for folks to discuss openly. I know some friends have been through infertility and some version of ART and...that's about all I know. So I picked this up hoping to understand that better and learn a thing or two about the science. That, a ...more
Shannon Wise
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, read-in-2016, won
The Art of Waiting is a highly anticipated memoir from Belle Boggs based on her essay published on the internet of the same name. I was looking forward to reading the book.

I will admit that I did not finish the book. I just did not find it to be my cup of tea. I found her tone to be too academic and too condescending to get into the book father than the third essay of chapter. I wish I could have gotten through it, but I found myself looking at reading this book as a chore and I do not want to
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As usual, Graywolf hits it out of the park. Boggs intertwined the story of her own struggle with infertility with a larger look at the ethics of and barriers to assisted reproductive technologies and the cultural pressure to have children. The resulting book is a thoughtful examination of child-bearing in the 21st century and the pressures placed on women both physically and psychologically when the biology doesn't work as society assumes it should. Boggs also tried to expand her work into the s ...more
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it
My tour of motherhood memoirs is back after a brief hiatus! I think the strongest parts of this book are the parts that are pure memoir and the sections that explore the psychological consequences of infertility. But there's lots of other good stuff in this book too: insightful analysis of what's deemed normal/abnormal when it comes to starting a family, solid reporting on how infertility is experienced by non-rich white ladies, etc. If you're in your thirties, you probably know someone (likely, ...more
Jenny Belardi
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Belle Boggs does a great job blending her memoir about her own infertility challenges with science, representations of infertility in society, and the stories of many people she knows or researched. I did not struggle with infertility myself, and this book was incredibly helpful in thinking through what several of my friends are going through.
Michael Yoder
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I won this from a Goodreads Giveaway. I gave the copy to my Brothers Wife. They have been together over 10 years and just got married last month. She said she loved the book and she told me to thank the author, "Thank you". ...more
Gorgeous. Compassionate, big-hearted and inclusive. Helped this person on the precipice of infertility feel less alone, though I do wish I could get my friends to also read and extend that feeling into my every day life.
Sarah Cavar
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
The first half was far better than the second; I enjoyed the critical engagement with sexgender essentialism and medical misogyny, as well as the way the author addressed representations of motherhood and infertility in media and literary forms. The second half was frankly too bogged down by technicalities to be enjoyable. Further, the second half of the book goes into detail justifying her choice of IVF - and although that choice is hers to make, in this attempt at justification, my opinion of ...more
Gautam Prasad
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book felt scattered to me. The author would jump seemingly randomly from topic to topic. But for some reason I found it interesting. It made me think a lot about what infertility means for someone in our society. It also made me think about being selfish and wanting something that you can’t have. I also respected that the author wasn’t wealthy and had restrictions on what types of procedures they could have. They were also a bit biased and negative about adoption and surrogacy, or maybe the ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting, 2018
This was the best book I read this year! I originally bookmarked it when I was newly pregnant, but eventually bought a copy to understand my loved ones' experience with IVF. I got so much more than I bargained for, in the best way.

What starts as the author's personal story of infertility and treatment becomes an eye opening review of the choice to pursue parenthood (or not), and the many physical, psychological, and financial factors that drive and influence the shape of those journeys.

Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was super insightful. Like, it sort of turns all the things we've been told about fertility and parenthood and children on its head while also giving the story of one woman's story of going through fertility treatments to conceive her daughter. I like that she focused on how it's not simple, the people might initially guess it is. ...more
ooOOOoo i loved this book ! wish there was a lil more of the social - political analysis at the end (the politics of who we talk about when we talk about ivf) but really good addition to my more broad "reproductive justice" bookshelf and my "graywolf perfect essay" collection... two of my favorite kinds of books to read. ...more
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's so much warmth and tenderness in Belle Boggs' writing and I enjoyed her style in a nonfiction setting. ...more
Lacey Louwagie
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
More than just a memoir on infertility, this is a collection of essays through which the author uses her own infertility journey to examine the ethical, political, biological, and even literary issues surrounding difficulty conceiving.

I appreciated this approach, even though I found the author's personal story to be the most compelling; I often wanted to find out more than she disclosed. For example, she mentioned low progesterone and that "multiple issues" contributed to her infertility, but sh
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Was not expecting this to be a sociology paper. I expected more of a novel.
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After just reading a book about infertility that was haughty and condescending in tone, Ms. Boggs' book was a breath of fresh air! She deals with all of the issues from start to finish on both a personal and national level. She has moments of journalism, but what really stand out are her narrative elements. She doesn't dismiss the emotional aspect, and uses metaphor to beautifully tie it all together. This book felt like it was written for me, even though it addressed so many complexities which ...more
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was more than I expected, more than just a simple memoir. She really dug into what it means in our society to be childless - or child-free or without children - by exploring how those without children are treated in movies, plays, books, etc. She also packed in a lot of information about each of the stops along the infertility road and the emergence of "Plan B" families of different flavors. While I enjoyed her personal reflection, particularly those passages that related her experienc ...more
Jan 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
This topic is definitely worth writing about, and I learned a lot about infertility and the struggle that people undergo to have babies. There are lots of good facts in the essays in this book. That said, I struggled to relate or feel intimate with the narrator. For some reason, I felt like she was distanced from me, and that diminished my enjoyment of this book. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if there had been more emotion involved.

Points for inclusivity of LGTQ couples and some d
Rachel Blakeman
Sep 23, 2016 rated it liked it
This book had nice writing and good organization, which are usually tickets for a 4 or 5 star rating. However this just didn't go anywhere emotionally for me. The next to last chapter was the most insightful but it otherwise didn't help me understand the hurt and pain of infertility in a new way. The author got the brass ring, which I think colored a rosy perspective throughout. It wasn't bad but I expected much more. ...more
Brian Eshleman
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
She "gave the roar" to many of the longings of my wife and myself as a couple going through infertility. Even though we approach the issue from a very different place as evangelical Christians she at times seems to go out of her way to sideswipe, there is still a sense of community with her and her writing. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • It Starts with the Egg: How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant Naturally, Prevent Miscarriage, and Improve Your Odds in IVF
  • Conceivability: What I Learned Exploring the Frontiers of Fertility
  • Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction
  • Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health
  • The Seed: Infertility is a Feminist Issue (Exploded Views)
  • Trespass: Ecotone Essayists Beyond the Boundaries of Place, Identity, and Feminism
  • Take Me with You, Wherever You're Going
  • Fanny Says
  • This Is My Body: A Memoir of Religious and Romantic Obsession
  • Telepathologies
  • Native Guard
  • Shadow Box
  • Let Me Out Here : Stories
  • Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories
  • The Code for Love and Heartbreak
  • Laughing IS Conceivable
  • Conquering Infertility: Dr. Alice Domar's Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Inferti lity
  • The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant
See similar books…
Belle Boggs is the author of The Gulf, a novel; the nonfiction book The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine and Motherhood; and the story collection Mattaponi Queen. She has published work in Ecotone, Orion, Ploughshares, and Harper's, among other publications. She grew up in King William County, Virginia and is Associate Professor of English at North Carolina State University. ...more

Related Articles

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” So, this January, as we celebrate Martin Luther King...
62 likes · 17 comments
“The pregnant body suggests a story we think we know: health, love, happiness.” 3 likes
“The life an infertile person seeks comes to her not by accident and not by fate but by hard-fought choices. How to put together the portfolio of photographs. How to answer at the home study. What clinic or doctor or procedure. Donor egg or donor sperm or donor embryo. Open or closed adoption. What country, what boxes to check or uncheck. What questions to ask, and ask again. When to start and when to stop. What to say when her child says, Tell me my story. 2 likes
More quotes…