Those generic Mother’s Day cards and wilting flowers are getting a bit old, don't you think? This year, your mother's day gift should be something she really wants: a few hours to escape. I’m not talking about a one-way plane ticket. Instead, find Mom a thoughtful present with substance — like one of these mother's day books, tailored to exactly who she is. Because nothing says thank you for carrying me in your womb for nine months like 325 pages of mystery, lust, or tears.
Whether your mom is a thrill-seeker or sentimentalist, she’ll want to curl up on the couch and dive into at least one of these 15 titles. Get thee to a bookstore.
Image: Miki Yoshihito/flickr
For the Mom Who Loves a Good Cry
My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh
Nothing warms the mom-heart like a good coming of age story. A teenage boy’s journey into manhood against the backdrop of a mysterious rape in Louisiana is sure to be emotionally-fueled. Yet Walsh’s ability to create complex, quirky characters you can’t help but root for is what’ll really fuel some serious waterworks on the final page. She’ll love this story.
For the Socially Conscious Mom
Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story by Mac McClelland
If your mom is into true stories — or if she’s ever read Mac McClelland’s compelling features in Mother Jones magazine — then Irritable Hearts is just the thoughtful, heart-wrenching memoir to win her over. After reporting on violence against women in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, McClelland recounts falling in love and her struggles with PTSD, also refuting the common misperception that this disorder is exclusive to veterans.
For the Mom Who Loves to Write
Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith
For any mom who appreciates the written word, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith’s new memoir must go to the top of her list — lucky for her, you’ll be buying her a copy. The book, which is a dazzling story of race and faith, and what it means it to be a member of a family, is so beautifully written, your mom will find herself wanting to comb back over passages just to reabsorb Smith’s language.
For the Mom Who Prefers Poetry
The Lunatic by Charles Simic
Former Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winner Charles Simic is known for
his dry wit and attention to imagery.
His new collection The Lunatic is
no exception. The poems range in seriousness of topic, though they are always
insightful, covering everything from his childhood in war-ridden Yugoslavia to
For the Mom Who Gave You Your Sense of Humor
Unabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer by Una LaMarche
LaMarche’s cleverly titled new memoir will either elicit hearty laughter or
accusations of TMI. But if Mom appreciates oversharing and sarcasm, she’s likely to find herself doubled over multiple times throughout Unabrow. (Case in point: the first scene involves a childhood game called “look in butt.”)
For the Science Nerd Mom
On Immunity by Eula Biss
Vaccination has proved to be one of the year’s biggest controversies. In
Biss’ newest work of nonfiction, she discusses the pressing fears related to
becoming a new mother, ultimately discovering that no degree of immunizations
will ever make her feel protected. By weaving in scientific research, myths,
and metaphors, she covers this hot topic with a fresh perspective and approach.
For the Thrill-Seeking Mom
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
A book that actually lives up to the hype! If she hasn’t read it, now’s the chance. With three rotating female narrators, all of whom are seemingly unreliable,
Mom will be left wondering who — if anyone — to trust. Either way, she’ll
surely trust you, her ever-thoughtful daughter, for buying this gripping read.
For the Mom Who's Quicker At Jokes Than You Are
Disgruntled: A Novel by Asali Solomon
It’s perhaps too easy for mothers to fall in love with protagonist Kenya Curtis, just 8 years old at the start of Solomon’s debut novel, Disgruntled, which takes place in Philadelphia in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. But this story is way more complex than a simple coming of age: it’s about race, shame and what it’s like to feel different. The narrator’s honest, raw, humorous tone makes those critical topics easier to digest.
For the Rock ‘n’ Roll Mom
Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon
Kim Gordon of the band Sonic Youth was a pioneering woma in rock ‘n’ roll.
In her memoir, she opens up about identity, marriage, career, and where these pieces of life intersect. Set in New York City in the ‘80s and ‘90s, any music enthusiast
will be intrigued by Gordon’s ruminating on the rise of alternative rock. Plus, Kim Gordon is just damn cool.
For the New Mom
After Birth by Elisa Albert
What soon-to-be mom or new mom doesn’t crave compelling reads about motherhood? Well, she probably already owns What to Expect When You’re Expecting, so instead, you can grab her this novel that illuminates the very real challenges and
isolations of becoming a new mother. But the book also illuminates something else all moms
will relate to after giving birth: the importance of friendship.
For the Foodie Mom
Milk Bar Life: Recipes and Stories by Christina Tosi
Whether or not your mom has been to Momofuku Milk Bar, the famous NYC bakery… wait, first, you should probably take her there ASAP. For now, she’ll enjoy this book of anecdotes and recipes from its chef/owner/founder. The book focuses on such wild but delicious snacks as Kimcheezits with Blue Cheese Dip. YES. It’s a good bet that no matter how much Mom likes cookbooks, she probably doesn’t own one quite like this.
For the Feminist Mom
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
These essays are totally badass, ranging from cultural criticism to meditations on race and feminism. Roxane Gay isn’t afraid to tackle any subject, and her perceptiveness allows her to do so with tact and honesty. She even admits in her introduction that these essays are, “like feminism, flawed, but they come from a genuine place.” Such frank sincerity is what makes Gay an admirable role model, and one your feminist mom will love to read.
For the Ultra-Organized and Crafty Mom
One Good Life by Jill Nystul
This book doesn’t come out until May 5, so you’ll have to preorder or
stop by the bookstore last minute, but for Moms who loves small but valuable
life hacks, it will be worthwhile. Jill Nystul (aka “Jillee”) is the creator of
the website, One Good Thing, which has tons of tips organized Moms will love — everything from cleaning and health solutions to tips for
getting more organized.
For the Mom Who Reads 'Foreign Affairs'
Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman
Ackerman is a decorated veteran of both the Iraq and Afghan wars who wanted to
write a novel from the point of view of a young Afghani. The story plays on his
personal knowledge through five tours abroad to show the complexity of morality
during conflict. If Mom considers herself a savant of international issues,
she’ll appreciate this important, fictive investigation into how war can affect
For the Anthropologist Mom
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
Literature is just one way to begin to understand another culture. For moms
who want to learn about the lives of the more than 40 million immigrants in
America, Cristina Henríquez’s novel is the ticket, interweaving stories about men and women who have immigrated to the United States from all
over Latin America. Their stories are haunting and beautiful, just like the