13 Mother's Day Book Gifts for Your Bookish Mom

Giving your beloved mom a book for Mother's Day might not be the most original idea, but it's a classic for a reason. First of all, it's surprisingly tough to pick out the perfect book for another person. It's like shopping for jeans when the jean-wearer isn't there — obviously, it's an impossible task, so if you even come close, it shows you know the other person pretty well. And that means something, doesn't it?

Plus, there's something so sweet and comforting about a good book in a busy mom's life, whether she's a new mom, a wrangler of teenagers, or an empty nester working on her Etsy apothecary. A tangible book is a retreat that she can return to, again and again, whenever life is crowding in or the internet is getting a bit too rambunctious for her taste. And every time she slips back into that little world, she'll think of you.

For the mother curious about her mother

You wouldn’t be you without a healthy helping of your mom’s genes, and she wouldn’t be your mom without all that amazing, wacky DNA from her mother. It’s not just coincidence that you all have the same surprised laugh and fuzzy eyebrows — it’s science.

Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives — And Our Lives Change Our Genesby Sharon Moalem (Grand Central), $28

For the mother who likes to talk about feelings

A mother-daughter team invites Grandma to come live with them for a year so everyone can explore their unresolved emotions. If your mom likes to unpack the psychological reverberations of each and every family memory, this one’s for her.

Mother Daughter Me: A Memoirby Katie Hafner (Random House), $26

For the mother with a really hilarious sense of humor

Wrap this in bleak beige wrapping paper and give it to her with a somber face. Then shower her with chocolate. [Warning: not for overly sensitive moms.]

Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothersby Karyl McBride (Atria), $16

For the moms of mama's boys

If you know a mom who can’t stop raving about Teddy’s LSAT score, she might enjoy curling up with the story of Jackie O. and her beloved little man. Tearjerker warning: He dies at the end.

The Good Son: JFK Jr. and the Mother He Lovedby Christopher Andersen (Gallery), $27

For the mother obsessed with Paris

If your mom has always dreamed of spending a sun-drenched Saturday browsing the French farmer’s markets, send her this vegetarian-friendly Parisian cookbook to transport her there — until she can afford an actual plane ticket. (If you included a baguette and a wedge of creamy gruyere, I don’t think she’d be upset.)

The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes from My Parisian Kitchenby Clotilde Dusoulier (Clarkson Potter), $22.50

For the mom with big dreams

Sometimes, when a mother is very good, a handsome “cowboy-turned-attorney” will show up on her porch to inform her that she’s the “heir to the Lassiter fortune!”

From Single Mom to Secret Heiressby Kristi Gold (Harlequin), $5.25

For the mom who'd do anything for her kids

It doesn’t get sweeter than a vintage edition of the beloved Little Women. The four sisters are so charming and rambunctious that it’s easy to forget about Marmee — one of the strongest, bravest, and noblest mother characters in the literary canon.

Little Women (vintage version) by Louisa May Alcott, $10

For the mom with a literary edge

Mild-mannered Mrs. Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013, thanks to her gorgeous mastery of the short story. No one writes about women and love better.

Dear Life: Storiesby Alice Munro (Vintage), $16

For the "mum" who never liked that Mark Darcy anyway

Bridget Jones is a mother, now, so your mom will finally be able to relate to her — maybe. And here’s some good/terrible news, depending on how your mom feels about that Darcy man: he’s out of the picture. It may not be highbrow literature, but it’s an amusing, fast read, which is just what dear Mum needs every now and then.

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boyby Helen Fielding (Knopf), $27

For the mom who loves unconventional, unconditional love

A brilliant, awkward professor meets a sharp-witted, chain-smoking barmaid. Mom knows what happens next. (How do you think you came about, anyway?)

The Rosie Projectby Graeme Simsion (Simon & Schuster), $24

For the mom you've always suspected of being a witch

If your mom could always cure absolutely anything with a few drops of echinacea and a bundle of sage — and had a strange penchant for long, white candles — you didn’t hear it from me, but she’s probably into the dark arts. If so, she’ll love this 21st century analysis of nature’s most powerful plants, which will show her just how to use each precious herb to cure, clean, “smudge,” and dye.

Rodale’s 21st-Century Herbal by Michael J. Balick (Rodale), $35

For the mom who wants to relive her glory days

Does Mom have a secret past she’s never told you about? Maybe she spent the ’50s frolicking around Europe with gallons of Parisian men and champagne cocktails. Even if she didn’t, she’ll love this smart, happy, fizzy cult classic about how much fun it was to grow up in the 1950s.

The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy (NYRB Classics), $15

For the mom who still curls up with poetry

If you’re skeptical about this 2013 winner of the National Book Award for Poetry, go ahead and read the poem “Girls Overheard While Assembling a Puzzle” from this collection. Tell me it won’t move Mom to tears, remembering the way you and a friend chatted about everything and nothing when you thought no one was listening.

Incarnadine: Poemsby Mary Szybist (Graywolf), $15