May 9, 2014

10 Books to Give Your Mom for Mother's Day

I come by my love of reading naturally.

My mom is an avid reader and an English major, and hundreds of my childhood memories involve books and my mom.

She read aloud to us faithfully almost every night for years (even when I was in high school), while my sisters and I braided each others hair and painted our nails. If we really needed another chapter, we could usually convince her if we painted her toenails while she read.

Once, when we were reading Beauty, I woke up in the middle of the night to see her sitting in the hall outside my room finishing the book by the glow of the hall light.

We went to the midnight release of the 4th Harry Potter book, which was still a fairly small event (and then the subsequent ones too).

She used to say, "When I'm reading a good book, my children go hungry and naked." Now, as a mom myself, I can really appreciate that sentiment, since when I'm in the middle of a good book, I basically just want to park myself on the couch for 4 hours.

I'm not much of a book buyer (librarian for life!), but my mom is, and I owe a lot of my book collection to her.

All of which is to say that a book is a good gift for my mom for Mother's Day.

Here are 10 of my favorite books that would make winner gifts for this weekend, across a wide variety of topics and genres.

Plus, the great thing about books is you can stop by the bookstore and pick up a book at a moment's notice. No speedy shipping costs (or shipping costs at all!).

  1. Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey  - This is a family favorite. Ignore the movie - they have zero similarties except for having twelve children. Laugh, cry, and love every page. Full review
  2. A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg - I actually DID give this one to my mom for Mother's Day a couple of years ago and she loved it (and then she lent it to someone who never returned it, so maybe I should just re-gift it this year). Full review.
  3. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. If your mom loves fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, this is a slam-dunk winner. My mother-in-law, who has flawless book taste, gave this to me years ago and it was an instant favorite. Full review
  4. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin - When my mom came out to help me with my first baby, she read nearly half the book aloud to me. Whenever I think of those first days of motherhood, I think of this book. Full review
  5. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.  I loved this one so much I immediately emailed my mom to say "READ THIS" and she did in about a day and a half and sent me back a long email with her thoughts about the book. Just one of the reasons I love my mom. Full Review.
  6. These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner - My mom gave ME this book a few years ago and it's remained one of my all-time favorites. Full review
  7. First Mothers: The Women that Shaped the Presidents by Bonnie Angelo. My mom bought me this book when she came up to visit me at BYU my freshman year. I remember it clearly because it was SO nice to get off campus and also because it was one of the only (if not THE only) non-school book I read that year. 
  8. Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson - If regency romances are your mom's thing, this is a fun read. I seriously loved it.  Full review.
  9. Room by Emma Donaghue - Told from the point of view of a little boy who, with his mother, lives in captivity in a garden shed for five years until they escape and try to adjust to a normal life again. This is parenting like you probably haven't experienced (thankfully). Full review.
  10. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell. This is one of his best, I think, and the stand-alone essays mean its easy to read a bit at at time. Full review.


  1. Now THIS is the Mother's Day list I've been waiting for, my friend. My mom is so hard to shop for because she doesn't like "stuff". She's rather us bake her brownies then go to the store and buy her anything. But she does love a good book. I think I'll get her the First Mothers one...great suggestions!

  2. I just realized that you're actually going to be with your mother for Mothers' Day. What a treat for her (and for you). Enjoy the beginning of your summer and fall adventure.

  3. Just wanted to say that every single line of this post makes me smile. You are delightful and I love waking up to read your posts. Happy Mother's Day!

  4. Alright, you've convinced me to try again on "These Is My Words." You've never steered me wrong before, but for whatever reason, I just REALLY couldn't get through the first 100 pages on my first attempt. I'm ready to be proven wrong with take two. Happy Mother's Day to you!!

  5. Ok, I'm going to dive in and write my first comment just to tell you how much I love your book lists (for kids and adults). I was a voracious reader growing up, but grad school (too much school reading) slowed me down for a couple of years. Your book lists got me reading seriously again AND going to the library again. So, thank you! I didn't know how much I missed books.

  6. Have you read Emma Donaghue's latest book? I can't wait to pick it up. Loved Room, disturbing as it was.

  7. These is My Words is my all time favorite book. Every time I read it (and we're way over 20 by now) I bawl. I know what's going to happen, I know how much they love each other but it still just makes me weep. I've written papers about it, I've dreamed about and I swear I even sometimes think of Jack and Sarah as real people. The author is also really great, I emailed her to tell her how much I love her writing and she RESPONDED! I was blown away. We now have this great email friendship (if you can call it that). Such a wonderful story.

  8. Yes, yes, yes! To A Homemade Life, The Happiness Project and What Alice Forgot. All of those have helped me a better mum in very different ways from each other. And now I have a list of other books I want to read. =)


  9. This makes me happy because I saw your list and thought, "Oh, I already bought my mother-in-law a couple of books - too bad I didn't see your list first." Then I read it and saw that one of the ones I bought already, "What Alice Forgot," was on there! I LOVE that book!

  10. Will your next recommendation be how to chase Edenbrooke? My 18 y.o. daughter has read it at LEAST four times, as it has become her default in-between books go-to read. On your recommendation, I bought it for her for Christmas. BEST.GIFT.EVER.

  11. Thank you for this list! The month of May is a big one for my mom: wedding anniversary, Mother's Day, and birthday all in one month! I get a little frantic each time May comes around, because I want to get her something she will actually use and love. Ta-da! I found your great book list and straightaway ordered "First Mothers" for her. It's perfect!

  12. I'm just browsing your book reviews on your blog tonight. I especially liked reading about your fun reading sessions with your mom and those sweet memories you shared. :) Thanks for sharing so much with us through your blog :)

  13. Whenever I read a book that I think my mom will like, I write it down on a special list that I keep in a secret drawer, called "books for mom" and then I buy them for her for birthdays and Christmas. :)


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