The 8 Best Books to Read with Your Mom
You could of course read any book with that magical lady who brought you into this world, but certain titles are just begging to be tackled in tandem. Read on for a list of eight books that capture the deep, complex bond between mothers and their children—and would make the perfect book club pick for two.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Nadia, Luke and Aubrey are three young people coming of age in a tight-knit African American community in Southern California. After moving across the country for college and law school, Nadia returns to her hometown, where she’s forced to confront unfinished business from her youth. Told partly by Nadia and partly by a judgmental chorus of women from church, Bennett’s novel is sad and wise, tackling themes of secrets, loyalty and the lasting impact of the decisions we make when we’re young. It’s also a reminder that a mother doesn’t have to be someone who gave birth to you.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Bernadette Fox is talented, hilarious and a little unhinged. A reclusive architect, opinionated partner and loving mother, she goes missing before a family trip. As her daughter tries to find her, she compiles a funny and touching portrait of a woman who is misunderstood and unfairly maligned. Read the book together before seeing the forthcoming Cate Blanchett-led film adaptation, and take solace in the fact that your relationship never got quite that crazy.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Mother-daughter relationships are at the center of Tan's classic novel about four Chinese-American families in San Francisco. Starting in the late 1940s, a group of recent immigrants starts meeting up for mahjong and dim sum. Tan explores their relationships with one another and with their daughters, who aren't as interested in keeping up their mothers' traditions.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Lahiri’s first novel (after her Pulitzer-winning story collection, Interpreter of Maladies) follows the Ganguli family from Calcutta to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they attempt—with varying degrees of success—to assimilate to American culture while holding onto their roots. Moms will relate to Ashima's struggles to steer her children down a path she's deemed acceptable, while daughters will recognize the frustrations that come from being steered.
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott
Lamott (Hallelujah Anyway) was 35 and single when she had her son in 1989. From finding out that baby is a boy to finding out that her best friend, Pam, had cancer, she chronicles—with candor and self-deprecating humor—her first year as a mom and the friends, neighbors and strangers who helped her survive along the way. A must-read for anybody who maybe just a little bit takes their own mom for granted.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Inspired by a true story, this haunting novel follows a woman, Sethe, and her daughter after they escape from slavery and run to Ohio. As we find out about Sethe's deceased daughter, Beloved, we see the lengths mothers go to to protect their children. Maternal love with a powerful message of perseverance—from one of America's best writers.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
This historical novel centers on the Price family (especially matriarch Orleanna), a group of Southern Baptist evangelists who move to the Belgian Congo in 1959 to convert a village during massive political upheaval in the region. Except—surprise, surprise—everything goes so horribly wrong, forcing the deferential but strong Orleanna to try to hold things together. Thanks to alternating chapters told from the perspectives of Orelanna and her four daughters, you'll each get a taste of the other's point of view.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Reeling from the loss of her mother and the end of her marriage, then 22-year-old Strayed decided to heal by hiking the length of the Pacific Crescent Trail, from the Mexican border through Oregon. It’s a thrilling, scary and unforgettable journey—filled with female strength and busted hiking boots. And it just might inspire the two of you to do something adventurous together.