6th May 2020
Books to Read with your Mum this Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is this Sunday, just in case you haven’t noticed the incessant advertisements…. or maybe the rather obvious hints of well-placed catalogues on your coffee table (conveniently open to the exact page of those earrings your mother was talking about the other day ?). But this tradition of celebrating mothers around the world isn’t just about buying gifts and we are here to prove it.
Below you will find a range of fantastic books for you and your mum (or other loved ones) to read together. Perhaps you will bond over the recipes in a cookbook, rally over the cries of feminism, or weep together at the stories of family struggle. Either way, reading is an experience to be shared with those you love and care for.
Note: some of these titles are available as audio and ebooks in our catalogue, others are freely available through the Open Library (a project of the Internet Archive)
Letter to my Daughter by Maya Angelou
Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter reveals Maya Angelou’s path to living well and living a life with meaning. Told in her own inimitable style, this book transcends genres and categories: guidebook, memoir, poetry, and pure delight.
Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that led Angelou to an exalted place in American letters, and taught her lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward, six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.
Whether she is recalling such lost friends as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a “lifelong endeavor,” or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice–Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family.
Love, Ellen: A Mother/Daughter Journey by Betty DeGeneres
“Mom, I’m gay.” With three little words, gay sons and daughters can change their parents’ lives forever. Twenty years ago, during a walk on a Mississippi beach, Ellen DeGeneres spoke those simple, powerful words to her mother. That emotional moment eventually brought mother and daughter closer than ever, but it was not without a struggle. In ‘Love, Ellen’, Betty DeGeneres tells her story: the complicated path to acceptance and the deepening of her friendship with her daughter, the media’s scrutiny of their family life, and the painful and often inspiring stories she’s heard on the road as the first non-gay spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign’s National Coming Out Project.
Insightful, universally touching, and uncommonly wise, Love, Ellen is a story of friendship between mother and daughter and a lesson in understanding for all parents and their children
Are you my mother? By Alison Bechdel
From the best-selling author of Fun Home, Time magazine’s No. 1 Book of the Year, comes this brilliantly-told graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her mother wanted to be. Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel’s childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It’s a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother–to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.
The particular sadness of lemon cake by Aimee Bender
The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse.
On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.
The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.
A Cook’s Tour of France by Gabriel Gate
A collection of regional French recipes from chef and television presenter Gabriel Gate’s annual gastronomic journey along the course of the Tour de France, the most famous race in the world. The Tour takes a different route every year, visiting famous cities and regions like Provence, The Loire Valley and Burgundy, making it as much a delight for the food lover as it is the sports fan. The gastronomy of France is quite simply superb. Its outstanding fish and seafood, excellent wines and liqueurs, extraordinary cheeses, unique range of charcuteries, delicious bread, cakes and patisseries are a constant delight for the French people.
This beautiful cookbook gathers together the best classic recipes from the many regions of France, one of the world’s best destinations for food lovers. The recipes include dishes from across France, such as the popular Chicken Casserole Vallee d’Auge from Normandy, the colourful Ratatouille with Lemon and Olive Chantilly from Provence and, of course, lovely desserts, as only the French can do, like the luscious Strawberry Tart from the Loire Valley.
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Becky Bloomwood has a fabulous flat in London’s trendiest neighbourhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season’s must-haves. The only trouble is, she can’t actually afford it—not any of it. Her job writing at Successful Saving magazine not only bores her to tears, it doesn’t pay much at all. And lately Becky’s been chased by dismal letters from the bank—letters with large red sums she can’t bear to read. She tries cutting back. But none of her efforts succeed. Her only consolation is to buy herself something . . . just a little something.
Finally a story arises that Becky actually cares about, and her front-page article catalyses a chain of events that will transform her life—and the lives of those around her—forever.
For readers of Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright Side comes a provocative, persuasive look at how and why women’s desires are more complex than we are led to believe.
Happiness has become big business. Books, psychologists, consultants and even governments promote scientific findings into the psychology of happiness and how it can apply to the individual and to the broader society. The problem is that almost all of this science is performed by and for straight white men. And some of the most vocal of these experts suggest that women can become happier by adopting traditional gender values and eschewing feminism.
Sceptical of this hypothesis, Ariel Gore immersed herself in the optimism industrial complex, combing the research, reading the history, interviewing the thinkers, and exploring her own and her friends’ personal experiences and desires. F*ck Happiness is a nuanced, thoughtful and inspiring account of what happiness means and to whom, how it has played a role in defining modern gender roles and power structures, and how we can all pursue joy in our lives.
The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay
Gorgeously tactile and sweeping in historical and socio-political scope, Pushcart Prize-winner Madhuri Vijay’s The Far Field follows a complicated ‘flaneuse’ across the Indian subcontinent as she reckons with her past, her desires, and the tumultuous present.
In the wake of her mother’s death, Shalini, a privileged and restless young woman from Bangalore, sets out for a remote Himalayan village in the troubled northern region of Kashmir. Certain that the loss of her mother is somehow connected to the decade-old disappearance of Bashir Ahmed, a charming Kashmiri salesman who frequented her childhood home, she is determined to confront him. But upon her arrival, Shalini is brought face to face with Kashmir’s politics, as well as the tangled history of the local family that takes her in. And when life in the village turns volatile and old hatreds threaten to erupt into violence, Shalini finds herself forced to make a series of choices that could hold dangerous repercussions for the very people she has come to love.
With rare acumen and evocative prose, in The Far Field Madhuri Vijay masterfully examines Indian politics, class prejudice, and sexuality through the lens of an outsider, offering a profound meditation on grief, guilt, and the limits of compassion.
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Her unexpected visit forces Lucy to confront the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of her life: her impoverished childhood in Amgash, Illinois, her escape to New York and her desire to become a writer, her faltering marriage, her love for her two daughters.
Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable. In My Name Is Lucy Barton, one of America’s finest writers shows how a simple hospital visit illuminates the most tender relationship of all-the one between mother and daughter.
The Mother-Daughter Book Club By Heather Vogel Frederick
Even if Megan would rather be at the mall, Cassidy is late for hockey practice, Emma’s already read every book in existence, and Jess is missing her mother too much to care, the new book club is scheduled to meet every month.
But what begins as a mom-imposed ritual of reading Little Women soon helps four unlikely friends navigate the drama of middle school. From stolen journals, to secret crushes, to a fashion-fiasco first dance, the girls are up to their Wellie boots in drama. They can’t help but wonder: What would Jo March do?
Acclaimed author Heather Vogel Frederick will delight daughters of all ages in a novel about the fabulousness of fiction, family, and friendship.
The secret life of bees By Sue Monk Kidd
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina–a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
Room by Emma Donoghue
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough … not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.