Learn More About Your Mom By Reading These Books Together

by Emma Oulton

People say mothers are supposed to know you best of anyone in the world — but it's not always true, and it definitely doesn't always work the other way around. Reading a book with your mom this Mother's Day can be a great way to learn more about each other. There are some things that aren't easy to put into words — but reading a novel together can give you and your mom some insight into the things you might each be going through.

Plus, reading a book together with your mom is a very special experience — and it's one that we should really keep going even once bedtime stories are over. Your mom is often one of the main influences in your early reading life; she picked out the books you read when you were little — and she probably still has a pretty good idea of what books you might like now.

But now it goes both ways: this Mother's Day, you can suggest 16 books that your mom might enjoy. It'll be just like bedtime tales when you were younger — except neither of you have to put on any silly voices. (You can if you want to, though.)


'Ordinary Light' by Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith's memoir Ordinary Light is an incredibly powerful look at what it means to be a daughter. When Smith's very-religious mother is diagnosed with cancer, which she believes to be part of God's plan — Tracy has to learn a new way to love a mother whose beliefs she has outgrown.

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'The Stars Are Fire' by Anita Shreve

After the Great Fires of 1947, Grace finds herself a single mother, injured and weak from the effort of keeping her two young children alive during the blaze. She relies on the help of her own mother to support her, but her mother's refusal to listen to Grace's emotional problems leaves her lost and afraid. Not only will this novel remind you of quite how much mothers go through to protect their children, it will also teach both you and your mom about the importance of opening up to each other.

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'My Not So Perfect Life' by Sophie Kinsella

If ever there was a book that could help your mom understand the pressures of being a social media-using millennial in today's world, it's this one. Sophie Kinsella's heroine Katie wants her family to believe that she's doing well in her new life in London away from them — but her life isn't quite as perfect as her calls home might suggest.

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'Embroideries' by Marjane Satrapi

One afternoon, Marjane's mother, aunt, and grandmother come together over tea with a group of their friends and neighbors — and the conversation soon turns to the topic of love and sex. Seen through the young Marjane's eyes, Embroideries is an enlightening and wonderfully entertaining insight into the sex lives of Iranian women.

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'Ctrl Alt Delete' by Emma Gannon

If you want your mom to understand your whole awkward teenage years, from cyber sex to dubious webcam exchanges, but you don't think you can summon up the words to explain it all — then Emma Gannon has got your back. Ctrl Alt Delete is the perfect explanation of the trials and tribulations of growing up in the '90s and '00s.

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'Are You My Mother?' by Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel is the bestselling author of Fun Home, as well as being most famous for giving her name to the feminist ranking system, the Bechdel test. But it turns out, her mom has a lot to do with her becoming the person we know and love today — and Are You My Mother? is the graphic memoir that tells the story of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her mother wanted her to be.

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'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood' by Rebecca Wells

You may have already watched this movie with your mom, but the novel was generally met with slightly better reviews. Siddalee Walker is interviewed in the New York Times about a play she's directed — and ends up spilling the details of her unhappy childhood with a difficult mother, Vivi. When Vivi reads the interview, she disowns Sidda — and their relationship seems ruined forever. But then the Ya-Yas step in, a group of Vivi's friends from her childhood — and send Sidda a scrapbook that reveals the truth of her mother's girlhood memories and secrets.

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'The Mother-Daughter Book Club' by Heather Vogel Frederick

Megan, Cassidy, Emma, and Jess would never have made friends if it hadn't been for the mother-daughter book club that their mothers forced them into — but reading Little Women together ends up bringing all four of them, plus their mothers, an invaluable friendship.

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'Little Women' by Louisa May Alcott

If it was good enough for the mother-daughter book club, then it's good enough for you and your actual mom. Little Women is about girlhood and love and ambition — but it's also about Marmee at the head of the family, and how the March sisters continue to rely on her throughout their lives.

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'The Joy Luck Club' by Amy Tan

You can't start a mother-daughter book club without mentioning The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. The novel is set in 1949, where four recent Chinese immigrants to San Francisco begin regularly meeting to talk about their shared hopes and worries. The Joy Luck Club is about the deep connection between women — as well as between them and their American-born daughters.

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'The Secret Life of Bees' by Sue Monk Kidd

Lily Owens's life has been shaped by the afternoon her mother was killed, and since then, she's been practically raised by her "stand-in mother" Rosaleen. The two of them live in South Carolina in 1964, but when Rosaleen gets into a fight with three of the town's worst racists, the two of them escape together to start a new life in Tiburon. There, Lily can learn the secrets of her mother's past, and both women learn the remarkable truth of divine female power.

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'Things We Left Unsaid' by Zoya Pirzad

Clarisse is the model 1960s wife and mother, leading the life she always wanted in a wealthy neighborhood in southern Iran. But the arrival of an enigmatic Armenian widower across the street changes everything — and suddenly Clarisse learns about a whole different life that she might have had.

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'Road Ends' by Mary Lawson

Road Ends is about the importance for daughters of striking out away from home — and the strong ties that will always bring them home. It's a sad novel, but the story of a young woman fighting to find her own space in the world is definitely one that both you and your mom can relate to.

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'The Garden of Small Beginnings' by Abbi Waxman

Lili has been a widow for three years when she joins a gardening class and meets a handsome instructor and a quirky group of new friends. The Garden of Small Beginnings is all about new starts — at any stage of life.

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'Hot Little Hands' by Abigail Ulman

Hot Little Hands is a short story collection about girlhood — and what it means to desire and to be desired as a woman. The protagonists are all girls from their teens to their late twenties, but each story will speak to you no matter your age.

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'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed

This book has made it into countless book clubs since its release in 2012, but if you and your mom haven't read it yet, now's the time. Cheryl Strayed's memoir about hiking the Pacific Coast Trail is about the female strength and bravery that you and your mom both share — but it's also about Strayed's experiences of being a daughter, even as an adult.

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