Books to Read With Mom This Mother’s Day

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Elliot Riley

Staff Writer

Emily Butler is a librarian and writer. You can discover more of their literary opinions on their YouTube channel,, and follow them on Twitter @EmilyFButler1.

Elliot Riley

Staff Writer

Emily Butler is a librarian and writer. You can discover more of their literary opinions on their YouTube channel,, and follow them on Twitter @EmilyFButler1.

There’s a good chance that many of us will not be able to spend time with our mothers in person this Mother’s Day, due to the coronavirus. There are lots of creative ways to show your mom that you care without actually being in the same room. You could video chat, or mail her a nice card or gift. If you live close enough, you could drop by her home just to wave through the window. If you and your mom are both readers, buddy-reading a book together could be a great way to bond, even from afar.

The following books will offer you and your mother a nice distraction from chaotic times, and provide you with something new to discuss together.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Rose Edelstein is about to turn 9 when she discovers she has a magical power. She can taste people’s emotions in the foods that they cook. It begins with the lemon cake which her mother made for her birthday, and Rose’s discovery that her mother has been feeling desperate and sad. Bender’s novel offers a unique way to look at mother-daughter relationships, and the discomfort of empathy.

My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki explores pregnancy and motherhood through an unusual lens—the lens of meat production. Her novel centers around two women. Jane is a single, Japanese American woman, and the director of the television show, My American Wife! Akiko is a Japanese woman struggling with an eating disorder and its impact on her fertility. The show, My American Wife! is primarily a vehicle for advertising American meat to Japanese audiences. As Jane proceeds to document several different American families, focusing on their relationship to meat, she uncovers disturbing facts about the meat production industry. One industry practice in particular may have led to Jane’s own struggles with fertility. Ozeki’s writing style is imaginative yet accessible, and the themes of motherhood make this an excellent mother-daughter read.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

The Owens sisters are doomed from the start. Due to their aunts’ reputations as practitioners of dark magic, the entire community of their tight-knit town despises them. This multi-generational fantasy novel provides a pleasant escape from everyday life while relaying realistic sibling dynamics, with a dash of romance. If you and your mom enjoy it, you can follow it up by watching the 1998 movie adaptation.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls cover imageThe Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is an unflinching portrayal of generational traumas. Althea and her husband Proctor have both been arrested for laundering money through their restaurant business. This leaves their two daughters without parental guidance. Ill-equipped to handle her parents’ absence, one of the daughters soon goes missing. Gray tackles issues of beauty standards, eating disorders, and familial abuse, interwoven with a riveting plot.

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

Groff presents two major mysteries in this novel. First: Who is Willie Upton’s father? Second: What are the origins of the monster of Lake Glimmerglass? This fabulist novel contains a moderately strained, realistic mother-daughter relationship. There will be much to discuss for mothers and daughters who are up to the challenge.

night-circus-coverThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Unlike the other books on this list, The Night Circus doesn’t have a traditional family dynamic. Instead, what you will find within these pages is a highly descriptive, sensory-rich fantasy novel, perfect for mothers and daughters looking for an escape right now. Celia and Marco are forced by their instructor/guardians to face off in a competition of magical feats, in spite of the fact that they’re falling in love with each other at the same time. Morgenstern’s spellbinding historical fantasy romance is the perfect distraction for challenging times.

The Strays by Emily Bitto

Lily’s parents have been hit hard from the great depression. She spends more and more time at her friend Eva’s house, until she practically lives there. Eva is the daughter of the infamous painter Evan Trentham, and her home life couldn’t be different from Lily’s. Eva has two sisters while Lily is an only child. Eva’s parents decide to open up their home to all of their friends as an artist’s colony, in an attempt to create a sanctuary away from the stifling cultural forces of 1930s Australia. Lily can never quite affix herself as firmly as she would like to into her friend’s family, but her fly-on-the-wall perspective provides fascinating insight into a troubled, if exciting, family dynamic.

Little Fires Everywhere coverLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng’s popular novel transports readers to the world of two very different families. Mother-daughter pair Mia and Pearl Warren are all each other needs. Their world is rich with love, art, and adventure. The Richardsons, on the other hand, are a wealthy family of six, living a deeply regimented lifestyle. Little Fires Everywhere is a “grass is always greener” story with maternity and familial controversy at its core. If you and your mom enjoy it, you can follow up with the recently released TV adaptation.