Photo by Florencia Viadana from Unsplash

10 Mothers’ Day books to gift your mom—or yourself

From beloved classics to heart-wrenching memoirs, if you’re still looking for the perfect gift for the bookworm moms in your life — or for yourself — we’ve got you covered.

Mothers’ Day—one of the world’s most celebrated occasions—is about that one woman (or mother figure) that has made such an immense impact on our lives—for better or worse. 

Know a bookish mom or are you one yourself? Here some of our recommended reads to enjoy this Mothers’ Day season that offer a diverse look at motherhood, and all of its ups and downs.

Go grab a copy for your mom, another special person you know, or for yourself.

1. The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

All photos from

In this New York Times bestseller, a lapse in judgment lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance. It’s Chan’s “surreal” (People), “remarkable” (Vogue), and “infuriatingly timely” (The New York Times Book Review) debut novel.

Frida is juggling a lot of things. She has misgivings about her job, and co-parenting her daughter with her ex-husband, who ran off with a younger woman, is tough. After a particularly difficult day, however, Frida finds herself thrust into a government reform program that tests her devotion as a mother— and which may have seismic consequences, in this dystopian thriller.

2. Listen to Your Mother, edited by Ann Imig

Described as irreverent, thought-provoking, and hilarious, this collection of personal stories celebrates motherhood of all kinds and features bestselling authors Jenny Lawson and Jennifer Weiner among many other esteemed writers.

The book covers a wide range of experiences, including foster, single, and LGBTQ+ parenting, as well as surrogacy, so there’s something for every mother in these pages. Enlightening, candid, amusing, and heartbreaking, these personal stories are the collective voice of mothers among and within us. 

3. Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

This compulsive page-turner asks the question: We can’t choose what we inherit— but can we choose who we become?

When Benny and Byron’s mother Eleanor dies, she leaves behind two items: a Caribbean black cake and a voice recording. Over the course of this riveting novel, Benny and Byron will learn of their mother’s secrets in her own words, and come to see how her legacy has affected their family as they know it.

This bestselling book described by Time magazine as “a character-driven, multigenerational story that’s meant to be savored” is now a series on Hulu. 

4. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

One of my all-time favorite novels, this is a must-read for every mom out there. Set in 1948 San Francisco, four women who recently immigrated from China form a group where they eat, talk, and play mahjong together. Many years later, their daughters continue the tradition in this bestselling novel about the enduring connection between mothers and their daughters.

Amy Tan’s beloved, New York Times bestselling tale is now the focus of a new documentary Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir on Netflix.

5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Another well-loved classic, the misadventures of the March sisters have long endeared readers of all ages for decades. Whether you see yourself as Meg, Jo, Beth, or Amy, at the heart of the story is Marmee, the loving mother who is always ready to be a source of comfort to her daughters and teach them the triumphs and hardships of womanhood. 

Mother’s Day is always the best time to revisit and reflect on this timeless novel.

6. Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

We all know it takes a village to raise a child—and Lamott can attest to this herself. In this heartwarming and poignant account of a pivotal period in her life, she details the first year raising her son as a 35-year-old single mother, along with the help of friends, her neighbors, and community. 

The acclaimed author of Bird by Bird brings her brilliant combination of humor and warmth to a “smart, funny, and comforting” chronicle of single motherhood, as described by the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Lamott narrates the grand and small things that make up a woman’s life, making this book a must read for moms of all kinds and of all ages.

7. Family Family by Laurie Frankel

India Allwood grew up wanting to be an actor. Armed with a stack of index cards, she goes from awkward sixteen-year-old to Broadway ingenue to TV superhero. One day, she finds herself under fire when she does something a movie star should never ever do—she tells a journalist the truth: her film is bad.

If that isn’t horrible enough, India’s own children are going through hell to clear their mother’s name, in this humorous and poignant novel about motherhood and the one unassailable truth about families—that they are always complicated.

8. I Love You to the Moon and Back by Amelia Hepworth

This bestselling, gentle rhyming picture book has been the favorite bedtime stories of hundreds of thousands of young children, making it the perfect gift for new moms.

The story of Big Bear and Little Bear who spend the day together and show each other just how strong their love is every minute of the day as they play and snuggle in their forest home will never not be heartwarming. 

9. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris

Three generations of Native American women come together in this sweeping multi-generational saga: 15-year-old Rayona, her mother Christine, and her grandmother, Ida. The women are beset by hardships and torn by secrets, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of kinship. 

Told in a nonlinear timeline, Dorris’ ambitious novel highlights the importance of lineage, and the bonds of a family’s history.

10. Fifty-Seven Fridays by Myra Sack

What do you do if you’re the mom of a lovely 15-month-old girl and you’re told you have to watch her die?

In 2019, Myra Sack and Matt Goldstein’s daughter Havi was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs, an incurable genetic disease. Deprived of the chance to see her grow up, they chose to celebrate her life every Shabbat for the next 57 Fridays instead.

Sack fearlessly demonstrates that grief is boundless, and you can love, cherish, and grieve at the same time. This is one of those rare books that people re-read, reflect on, and encourage others to read.

Associate Editor

The new lifestyle.