If you’re lucky enough to have a mom who’s just as avid a bookworm as you (I mean, you must have learned it somewhere, right?) then buying her a gift for Mother’s Day — May 8 this year, for anyone who doesn’t already have that programmed into their phone — should be a breeze: just wrap up a great book. There’s only one question: which is the perfect book to give your mom for Mother’s Day? Or even the perfect books, if she’s been really, really good this year.
Bonding with my own mother over books has always been easy. She taught me to read pretty much before she taught me to do anything else... I learned how to read before I learned how to use the bathroom by myself, (every parent has their own unique priorities, I guess) but let me tell you: I’m a better lady for it. And after all, who introduced me to classics like Anne of Green Gables, Trixie Belden, and Little House on the Prairie? Mom. And who understands that “a quick run” to the bookstore can easily turn into “an entire day” at the bookstore? That's right: Mom. Who was the first person I called when I got totally sucked into the Gone Girl buzz? Mom, of course. So Mother’s Day has always been a great time to give back all that book-lovin’ love, with another great book — especially if it’s one she might buy herself, but you know she’ll totally devour.
Here are 12 books to give your mom this Mother’s Day… books you’ll probably want to borrow yourself when she’s finished with ‘em.
1. Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We're Saying Now edited by Ann Imig
This collection of essays that celebrate all things motherhood is equal parts hilarious, poignant, and totally irreverent — just like some of our favorite mothers themselves. Exploring what it means to be a mother today (and not, say, in 1952) Listen to Your Mother tackles issues from first-time motherhood to empty-nesting, from LGBTQ parenting to single parenting, from infertility to adoption, and just about any other parenting situation you can think of. Plus, it’s filled with tons of unsolicited advice — just like some of the best moms we know.
2. Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown
This novel has mother/daughter book club written all over it (not literally, but you know what I mean.) Taking place in the years between World War I and World War II, Modern Girls tells the story of two Krasinsky women: 42-year-old Rose, and her 19-year-old daughter Dottie, both in the first months of secret pregnancies they weren’t expecting, and aren’t entirely sure they want. With both their lives on the cusp of major transitions — modern-gal Dottie just got a promotion at work and an opportunity to attend college, and Rose was planning on returning to her life of politics now that her babies have grown — these two women will be forced into similar, uncertain positions that will either draw them closer together or tear them apart.
3. Cravings: Recipes for What You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen
No cookbook in the history of cookbooks has been recommended to me more than Cravings — and it only just came out in February. Turns out, the woman behind all those foodie photos you’ve been liking on Instagram knows her way around a kitchen, and you totally want to follow her in there. This book makes a great gift for any mom who wants to kick it up a notch in her own kitchen, and have a ton of fun doing it. Plus, the Breakfast All Day section is a perfect one to flip to when planning your Mother’s Day breakfast in bed.
4. Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld
If you and your Mom read the original Pride and Prejudice together (and then watched Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy over and over again) you’re going to love reading Curits Sittenfeld’s Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice together as well. All your favorite gals have gotten a bit of a makeover: Lizzy is a magazine writer, Jane a yoga instructor, Kitty and Lydia are, well, the type of Millennials that give all the good Millennials a bad rap, and Mary’s basically still Mary. Throw in some reality television and a Fourth of July BBQ, and voila: you’ve got Pride and Prejudice for 2016.
5. She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems compiled by Caroline Kennedy
A collection of poetry might not be the first thing that comes to mind when finding the perfect Mother’s Day book to give Mom, but from the first page She Walks in Beauty is pretty hard to resist. Dedicated to the exploration and celebration of womanhood, this collection of work by some of the greatest female poets of all time is wise and sensual, beautiful and sad, empowering and joyful. From growing up and falling in love, to having children and growing old, these poets find the beauty in it all.
6. CRUSH: Writers Reflect on Love, Longing, and the Lasting Power of Their First Celebrity Crush edited by Cathy Alter and Dave Singleton
Raise your hand if you know who your mom’s first celebrity crush was. If your hand isn’t in the air then it’s time to ask Mom all about it — and buy her this hilarious, totally relatable book. CRUSH is filled with stories about the good, the bad, and the ugly of first celebrity crushes (full disclosure: mine was Bernard, from The Santa Clause.) It’ll definitely inspire a fun (albeit embarrassing) trip down memory lane, especially for that momma who hasn't left her teenybopper, punk-rock days behind her.
7. The Woman's Book of Yoga and Health: A Lifelong Guide to Wellness by Linda Sparrowe, Patricia Walden
If your mom came over to sage the first house you ever bought, and responds to every ailment with: “I might have an essential oil for that in my purse” then The Woman's Book of Yoga and Health belongs on her bookshelves. (And even if your mom’s purse is filled with old receipts and half-finished packs of Juicy Fruit, she might still be down for an asana or two.) Filled with poses and flows designed specifically for women, at all stages of life, this book will have your mom relaxed and rejuvenated in no time — which is exactly how Mother’s Day should make her feel.
8. The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church
Another mother/daughter book club must-read of 2016, Elizabeth J. Church’s debut novel, The Atomic Weight of Love is a beautiful and sad book that explores the kinds of sacrifices women make for their families. The book tells the story of Meridian Wallace, a young and brilliant ornithologist who sacrifices her own education and career when her scientist-fiancé is transferred to Los Alamos, New Mexico, to work on a secret government project, that will later become the atomic bomb. Unable to quell her thirst for academia, Meridian dedicates herself to studying a family of crows living in the mountains outside her stark, new home, and with her observations learns more about partnership and freedom than she did in any classroom.
9. Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son by Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott is just my favorite: she makes you laugh, she makes you cry, she makes you want to hug whoever is standing nearest you really hard from the sheer joy of reading her writing. Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son is Lamott’s journey into grandmother-hood (so, if you’re not planning on making your own mother a grandma any time soon, watch where you gift this.) Told in Lamott’s unique brand of humor and honesty, Some Assembly Required describes how becoming a grandmother can be just as emotionally fraught as becoming a mother was the first time.
10. No Hurry to Get Home: The Memoir of the New Yorker Writer Whose Unconventional Life and Adventures Spanned the Century by Emily Hahn
Globetrotting Emily Hahn did things few other women of her generation dared to do: she was the only female student attending University of Wisconsin’s geology department, she traveled alone to the Belgian Congo in her 20s, she moved to Shanghai and became a concubine to a Chinese poet, she wrote for The New Yorker; and she did a whole lot more too. If your own momma grew up with a similar sense of adventure — one even motherhood didn’t put an end to — then she’ll love No Hurry to Get Home: The Memoir of the New Yorker Writer Whose Unconventional Life and Adventures Spanned the Century . It might even inspire some mother/daughter travel... but maybe skip reenacting that part with Hahn and the poet.
11. The Ones Who Matter Most by Rachael Herron
Another novel about all the different paths one might take on the road to motherhood, Rachael Herron’s The Ones Who Matter Most meets Abby Roberts at the moment her husband dies — just as she was about to ask him for a divorce. Yeesh… that’s never good. In the wake of his death, Abby discovered her “I-never-want-to-have-children” husband actually had another family of his own: complete with a young son and a disgruntled ex-wife, whom Abby feels compelled to meet. As it turns out, they live just a few neighborhoods away, and might just change Abby’s life forever.
12. Forever, Erma by Erma Bombeck
The second I even mentioned the possibility of ever wanting to have children one day, my mother started telling me about Erma Bombeck — hilarious, irreverent, and totally entertaining, Bombeck is a writer who just gets it: mother’s aren’t perfect and they never have been, dealing with children is pretty freakin’ hard sometimes, and every once in a while if you “accidentally” leave your screaming 11-year-old at the grocery store (or wherever) the other mothers will understand (even if they refuse to admit it.) If your mother took her mommy-advice from the pages of Bombeck’s other books, then she’ll love reliving all the pain and laughter with Forever, Erma, a collection of Bombeck’s most celebrated columns.