18 Great Books for Mom for Mother's Day

Can't afford to buy her a new car? We bet she'd like one of these transporting reads.

Photo: courtesy

It's no secret that sometimes the hardest person to shop for is also one of the most special: your mom. That's why whenever we're in doubt or can't find that perfect gift for her birthday or Mother's Day, we look to books. (They're good for much more than inspiring Mother's Day quotes.) Whether your mom has only a few precious minutes a week to read, she devotes time every day to devour the latest bestseller, or you're constantly exchanging mother-daughter books, there are plenty of thoughtful options for books for mom this Mother's Day.

When trying to choose a book, remember that being a mom is a lot of hard work: Treat her to some uninterrupted me-time to put up her feet and dive into a new read. If you're lucky, she'll let you read her new novel or hilarious autobiography once she's finished.

01 of 18

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Sea of Tranquility, a book by Emily St. John Mandel

If your mom adored the book (or the HBO show) Station Eleven, you can't do wrong with gifting her with Mandel's latest critically acclaimed, sprawling novel, which takes readers from 1912 Vancouver Island to a moon colony half a millennium later.

02 of 18

The School for Good Mothers, by Jessamine Chan

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Any mom who has ever felt mom shamed or judged will definitely feel seen when they read this thriller, in which one mom's bad day puts the entire future of her family at risk—and into the hands of a government reform program for wayward mothers.

03 of 18

Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell

Hamnet Book by Maggie O'Farrell

This lyrical and rich novel focuses on some of the most mysterious figures in literary history—Shakespeare's wife and family—and the tragic impact of the plague on their lives.

04 of 18

The Club, by Ellery Lloyd

The Club, a book by Ellery Lloyd

The mom who loves a dishy murder mystery will be all in on this frothy novel about a series of murders during a weekend at a posh club that caters to A-list celebrities—written by the real-life editorial director of the equally posh Soho House.

05 of 18

I'm So Effing Tired: A Proven Plan to Beat Burnout, Boost Your Energy, and Reclaim Your Life, by Amy Shah

I'm So Effing Tired by Amy Shah

If the mom in your life is feeling burned out, this self-help book may be just the thing to help her deal with stress and rebuild her energy. (Just pair it with some quality me-time so she can recuperate, too!)

06 of 18

There are Girls like Lions: Poems about Being a Woman

Cover of There are Girls like Lions: Poems about Being a Woman
Chronicle Books

Poetry collections make great gifts for moms—and especially those who might feel like they haven't had time to read. We love this small, gorgeously illustrated collection of 30 poems from the likes of the late Mary Oliver and poet laureate Tracy K. Smith about being a woman. It's the perfect book for mom to read in one sitting or pick up as she pleases.

07 of 18

The Goodbye Diaries, by Marisa Bardach Ramel and Sally Bardach

Cover of The Goodbye Diaries, by Marisa Bardach Ramel and Sally Bardach
Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing

In this deeply moving memoir, tight-knit mother-daughter duo Marisa Bardach Ramel and the late Sally Bardach share their experiences of coping with Sally's terminal cancer diagnosis in the last months of her life. Though it's a memoir about grief and loss, it's also as much a tribute to the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters.

08 of 18

The Island of Sea Women, by Lisa See

Cover of The Island of Sea Women, by Lisa See
Simon & Schuster

If your mom loves to lose herself in big, epic novels along the lines of The Queen of the Night or Pachinko that she can lose herself in, she'll love See's latest, The Island of Sea Women, about two friends working in their Korean village's all-female diving collective. Their bond is tested as they come of age against a backdrop of war, social change, and technological advancements. What's even cooler: See based her novel on a real place, Jeju, where men take care of children while women work as divers. This is a novel about women who are strong as your own mom.

09 of 18

Women in Sunlight, by Frances Mayes

Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes
Penguin Random House

If your mom loved Under the Tuscan Sun (or the delightful movie adaptation starring Diane Lane), she'll love reading this new title from Mayes. In this story, Kit Raine is an American writer living in Tuscany, when three recently retired American women move into the mansion next door. This warm novel follow Kit and the trio as they spend a year together on an Italian adventure, exploring the rich culture around them and becoming closer as friends.

10 of 18

Song of a Captive Bird, by Jasmin Darznik

Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik
Penguin Random House

This gorgeous debut novel was inspired by the life of Forugh Farrokhzad, a famous Iranian poet and feminist. After Farrokhzad's father forces her into a marriage, she finds herself a prisoner in her own home. Despite objections from those around her, she begins to fight back against the traditional society she lives in and her husband by writing and publishing feminist poetry. Moms that love historical fiction will be captivated by this fascinating woman and moved by her inspiring search for independence.

11 of 18

Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan

Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan
Penguin Random House

If your mom has been dreaming of a Parisian adventure, she'll love joining Leah Eady on her captivating search to find her husband. When Robert Eady, an eccentric novelist, vanishes, his wife and daughters soon discover a clue he left behind: plane tickets to Paris for the three of them. Once they arrive in Paris, the trio moves into an apartment above a bookshop, where they try to reinvent their lives while also searching the city for their missing patriarch.

12 of 18

Mr. Boddington's Etiquette: Charm and Civility for Every Occasion

Mr. Boddington's Etiquette: Charm and Civility for Every Occasion
Chronicle Books

If your mom is always reminding you to mind your Ps and Qs, she'll love this funny guide to modern politeness from Mr. Boddington's Studio. Between pages of adorable illustrations, she'll find advice on acing every interaction—from being a host to navigating a wedding.

13 of 18

At My Table, by Nigella Lawson

At My Table by Nigella Lawson

Your mom already mastered basic kitchen skills with the help of Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess, and now she can perfect her recipe repertoire with this no-frills guide to simple and delicious cooking. Dishes like Chili Cheese Garlic Bread and Chicken with Red Grapes and Marsala will take foods she knows and loves and elevate them with unexpected flavors. If the titles of the recipes aren't enough to make her mouth water, the 100-plus gorgeous photographs will.

14 of 18

Circe, by Madeline Miller

Circe, by Madeline Miller
Little, Brown

Mythology-buff moms will love this masterful novel from Miller (The Song of Achilles). The novel tells the little-known Greek myth of Circe, the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans. When Zeus discovers that she possesses the power of witchcraft, he banishes her to a deserted island. Over her years trapped on the island, Circe meets sailors that come to the land seeking shelter, and eventually finds herself torn between her two identities, mortal and divine, until she must choose between her godly family and the mortals she has come to know.

15 of 18

Tell Me More, by Kelly Corrigan

Tell Me More, by Kelly Corrigan
Penguin Random House

Are there certain words and phrases that create strong relationships? In this collection of essays from Kelly Corrigan, she reflects on 12 phrases that connect us as humans—from "Tell Me More," to "I Was Wrong." Your mom will love Corrigan's musings on marriage and motherhood, and she will find the essay is poignant, funny, and filled with warmth.

16 of 18

I Love Mom With the Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

I Love Mom with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

For a book that Mom can read and share with her kids, gift her the newest book by Eric Carle. Filled with Carle's signature colorful illustrations that have made his work famous, this book follows the Very Hungry Caterpillar as he celebrates Mother's Day and all the incredible parents in the world. Carle brings to life yet another read with adorable illustrations of various animal mom-baby pairs throughout the story, something young children will love to read.

17 of 18

Diamond Head, by Cecily Wong

Diamond Head, by Cecily Wong

Following a horrific tragedy, four generations of women are forced to deal with a long-kept family secret. The wives and daughters of the Leong family are haunted by a Chinese legend that says each person is bound to their beloved with an invisible string, but whenever they make a romantic mistake, that string gathers knots. This knotted string is passed through generations, and ends with Theresa—18 and pregnant—who is burdened with the Leong family secrets. The novel spans years and perspectives—chapters are told by sisters, daughters, and wives—as the women grieve, and eventually rebuild.

18 of 18

Listen to Your Mother, by Ann Imig

Listen to Your Mother, by Ann Imig

This collection of stories was born from a live event asking women to share their stories about motherhood—now the show happens in more than 20 cities across America. This frank, funny, and touching anthology puts many of those stories down on paper, and discusses the complex and diverse array of parenting experiences, from step-motherhood to infertility, and everything in between.

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