Thursday, September 1, 2016

Books For My Mother (And Maybe For Yours If Yours Is Also Amazing)

Two months ago, my mother asked me for a list of books that would be fun, thought provoking, and new to her. She's an avid reader with excellent taste, so I couldn't just phone this in. Also, I've gotten really great at procrastinating and passing the buck this summer's September now. In an attempt to not sound like a horrible daughter, I have texted her some excellent suggestions every time she sends me panicked messages from the library. I started her on Penderwicks and Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles, and naturally she has loved both series and we have had a great time texting back and forth about our least favorite cliff hangers and most favorite funny moments. Also, she graciously admitted that the fourth Penderwick book almost made her cry too (so I felt better about sob-laughing most of the way through it). 

Obligatory grandkid picture

Anyway, after weeks of deep thought, the official Mother Mine Reading List--for the discerning mother with eclectically exquisite taste and a need for awesome:

East by Edith Pattou :: This beautiful retelling of the fairy tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" is intricately written with beautiful language. It made me want to travel and reinforced my belief in the power of our convictions and that sometimes the simplest of tasks can become the most life giving.

Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni :: A lushly written story of the importance of identity and the difference between doing what is right and what is easy, I loved the cultural depth of this book that jumps between India and a post-911 U.S. 

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo :: I have a weakness for children's lit that I came by honestly. I grew up with Mom reading out loud to us every night before bed, although we made Dad read any that required British accents. Anyway, Flora and Ulysses is not a read aloud--it's an illustrated novel and I wasn't expecting to be blown away by it, but it satisfied something deep in me while still being surprisingly funny. {I wrote about it briefly here.}

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple :: Quirky and unexpected, I found this book thoroughly entertaining, but I mainly included it because I really want to know what my mom thinks of it.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio :: Exquisitely beautiful, I loved the sense of hope this book left behind. Another children's book, the gentle handling of August Pullman's story (a normal boy with a very different face) placed it on my force-people-to-read list. I know my mom will love it.

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon :: This is not a classic yet, but it should be. Plus the illustrations are incredible, so I'm going to make sure that Mom shares it with my artist dad. I gave this book to my older sister for her birthday last year because people who love each other make sure that good books get shared. A book about imagination, friendship, and a yearning for adventure, you might find yourself surprised by how the loose ends tie up. Also, now I want chocolate croissants. Thanks, Nicholas Gannon.

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown :: I suggest this book to pretty much everyone I meet. Fascinating research combined with well told stories left me thinking about vulnerability and shame in all new ways. The world looks a little different after reading. {Referenced here and here.}

A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh :: Mom told me she read this years ago. One should always reread great literature. I know I've written about A Gift from the Sea on the blog fairly recently, so I won't say anything else, but all women should read this book...preferably with several years in between the readings. And it's about time for my mom's reread. {Also referenced here.}

A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman :: A Million Little Ways is a must read for anyone finding their significance in life. According to Freeman, we're all making art in a million little ways. My mom is the consummate artist, both in the traditional sense through vocal performance, but also in the small ways that she makes the world a more beautiful place. And if you're wondering how you're making art these days, you might want to pick this one up too. {Written about earlier here.}

In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri :: I just started this nonfiction pick about falling in love with another language (and I rarely suggest books I haven't finished yet), but I have a gut feeling about Lahiri's latest book. I'm pretty sure that anyone who has discovered the beauty of another culture and another means of expression will enjoy this read, but I promise a follow up if I'm unpleasantly surprised later in the book. Kind of like how doctors tell you they'll call if the test results look bad, but if you don't hear anything than you're probably fine.

An even ten, which will probably keep my voracious reader of a mother occupied for...about two weeks. And then she'll be hounding me again. Good thing I like her. Also, I refuse to write her another book list if she doesn't keep me thoroughly entertained with her reactions as she reads.

PS During this season of book sharing, Mom demanded that I read The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. I now feel like I have insider knowledge (no pun intended) of pop culture that I missed growing up in Indonesia. Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold. Just thought I'd share.


  1. A Girl Called Zippy and She Got Up Off the Couch, both by Haven Kimmel. Also, Some Girls and Everything You Ever Wanted, both by Jillian Lauren. Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi. I just replenished my mom's reading list with these gems. Beth

  2. You do have a good mother. Also, some of these books look like ones I want to read, but I can never remember to kindle them...maybe I'll read a few at your house in a few weeks. :)