Mothers. Soft smiles and gentle hands. Walking you to school. Remembering your birthday and your favorite kind of cake. Giving you a hug when you need one. Believing in you more than you believe in yourself. Wanting you to achieve all your dreams and more.
Mothers are amazing. They give birth, feed, nurture, and protect. They cook, they clean. They teach and support. They encourage, give their blessing, and finally let go.
This month, take the time to let your mother (or grandmother, special aunt, sister, even daughter) know how much you appreciate her. Flowers and candy are nice, but a book lasts forever. Whether your mother loves mysteries or romance, biographies or cookbooks, here are some choices to satisfy even the pickiest of readers.
1. In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant, a novel about a woman surviving on her wit and charm in 16th-century Venice. [Note: Sarah wrote The Birth of Venus, one of my favorite stories about Italy and painting and the transgressions of love and passion. If this new book is anything like her former one, you’re in for a treat.]
2. My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme. This book feels like receiving a diary and family album after the death of a loved one.
3. Abide with Me, by Elizabeth Strout. As a young minister struggles with grief and a troubled daughter following the death of his capricious wife, the congregation he serves responds in kind.
4. Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America, by Karenna Gore Schiff. Not all of the women profiled here are household names. But portrays the women honestly, as complex individuals who “had the extraordinary vision to combat injustice.”
5. The Madonnas of Leningrad, by Debra Dean. This elegy to old age spotlights a Seattle woman who lived through the siege of Leningrad during World War II and is now slipping into dementia.
6. Mixed: My Life in Black and White, by Angela Nissel. The author, whose father was white and mother was black, deals with the question, “Are you black or white?”
7. Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother, by Beth Ann Fennelly. Fennelly shares the joys of being a parent and life with her young daughter in this superb collection of letters she wrote to a pregnant friend.
8. The Doctor’s Daughter, by Hilma Wolitzer. At midlife, the title character becomes estranged from her husband and her idealized vision of her parents’ relationship.
9. Digging to America, by Anne Tyler. In her latest novel, she follows a middle-class white couple and an Iranian-American family who are brought together when each adopts a daughter from Korea.
10. Labyrinth, by Kate Mosse. This novel about the Holy Grail provides a twist: time travel with female protagonists, one from the present day and the other living in France 800 years ago.
11. Writing to Change the World, by Mary Pipher. The woman who led the crusade to help raise girls’ self-esteem challenges women to use the power of the pen to make the world a better place.
12. Mother-Daughter Wisdom: Understanding the Crucial Link Between Mothers, Daughters, and Health, by Christiane Northrup. This book springs from the premise that our relationships with our mothers start before birth and greatly affect our health as adults.
13. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, by Kim Edwards. A brilliantly crafted family drama that explores every mother’s silent fear: what would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you? [Note: This is an exceptionally beautifully written story that tugs at your heart as you read about a parent’s decision that haunts the family.]
14. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an enthralling narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.
15. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine.
16. This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection, by Carol Burnett. Carol really lets her hair down and tells one funny or touching or memorable story after another – reading it feels like sitting down with an old friend who has wonderful tales to tell.
17. Words That Matter: Everyday Truths to Guide and Inspire, by O, The Oprah Magazine. Words That Matter is a gathering of some of the greatest wisdom to appear in the magazine over the last decade, from historical figures and spiritual leaders to authors and actors, philosophers and Nobel Prize winners.
18. Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God, by Mary E. DeMuth. This devotional aims at the deeper issues of the heart and will provide a soothing respite amid chaos.
19. The Little Big Book for Moms, by Lena Tabori. More than 440,000 families have treasured The Little Big Book for Moms since it was published in the spring of 2000! This book captures the classic tles that entranced children for ages.