If you’re looking for present for your mom that never goes out of style, a good book is always the perfect choice. (Even better: A quiet place and some uninterrupted reading time to go with it.) Whether your mom loves literary fiction, memoirs, or biographies of other fascinating women, get her one of these tomes and you’re good to go. Your mom loves stories, but isn’t much of a reader? Try getting her one of these great audiobooks instead — some of them have casts that rival the most prestigious Oscar movies. (And what about you? If you’re looking for your next summer read, we’ve got that covered, too.)
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Clearly, one of the the best books for moms is Sheila Heti’s novel about grappling with what it means to be a mother. Few writers are brave enough to be as candid about the subject as Heti is.
Richard Powers’ twelfth novel just walked away with the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Trees are at the center of this story, and human main characters come and go throughout the natural world.
The Witch Elm
Winner of the National Book Award, this novel centers on grief; when a woman’s best friend and mentor dies, she’s left to care for a huge Great Dane that she never wanted. The relationship with the dog and her processing of her friend’s death become intertwined.
An American Marriage
Tayari Jones’ novel focuses on a married couple separated by incarceration — until the husband’s conviction is overturned and he unexpectedly returns home. Oprah picked it as a book club selection, and Barack Obama shared in a Facebook post that it was on his reading list, so this book has some pretty major fans.
Save Me the Plums
If your mom is a foodie, this memoir from the former Gourmet editor-in-chief is a no-brainer. Not only does it offer glimpses into the restaurant world, it’s also a look back on what it was like for “a former Berkeley hippie entering the corporate world.” Plus, there are recipes!
And Now We Have Everything
All You Can Ever Know
This memoir lovingly delves into what it means to be a parent, a child, and a member of a family: Writer Nicole Chung, who was put up for adoption by a Korean family and raised by white parents in Oregon, goes in search of her family history before her own daughter is born. She contrasts what she learns with the adoption stories that are often told to transracial adoptees.
The Golden State
Taking a toddler on a road trip might sound like a chore for any mother, but, in Lydia Kiesling’s hands, reading about a mother/toddler road trip across California is highly engrossing.
Susan Page, the award-winning Washington bureau chief for USA Today, details the unbelievable life of the former First Lady, and what it was like to be wife to one president and mother to another.
This is another novel about a mother/daughter relationship, even though it’s loosely based on the Oedipus myth. It focuses on a young woman named Gretel whose mother disappeared when she was a teen — until Gretel gets a phone call from her years later, and goes off in a quest to be reunited.
Smarsh, a fifth-generation Kansan, is a journalist who has written for The New York Times and The Guardian. For her memoir, she turns her keen eye on her own upbringing, growing up in poverty in the ’80s and ’90s, and examines what her experiences say about inequality in America. The book was named a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award.
Author Sara Batkie says this collection of short stories is about “young women trying and failing to connect, and the various ways they are and aren’t listened to.” If anyone can relate to that, it’s moms.
The author of The Poisonwood Bible returns with a novel about two families, living a century apart: One must learn to cope when both husband and wife lose their jobs, another risks scandal when a scientist wants to celebrate the work of Charles Darwin. Together, they’re two powerful portraits of families dangling on the edge.
If your mom was first in line to see Crazy Rich Asians, get her this novel about Stanley, a wealthy businessman — or so his family thought. When Stanley is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and his family starts to make arrangements, they realize that he may not be what he claimed.
The Stone Sky
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