I recently picked up Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge (2008) from the ‘new’ section of the library, namely because it sounded familiar. Then I noted the Pulitzer sticker, awarded in 2009. In addition, it won a 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. With none of the characters exactly likeable, all deeply flawed and complicated, it’s an enthralling read. The density of experience is something I could only ever hope to achieve on the page. Now, Olive Kitteridge is not exactly a mom to be celebrated for Mother’s Day (some may disagree). This book is about aging, more than anything else.

That said, what “mom” books have I enjoyed? I have a hard time recalling any except for Beth Ann Fennelly’s Tender Hooks, a book of poetry I read shortly after my son was born. If you need a gift for a mother, you can’t go wrong with Tender Hooks, unless she is expecting jewels—but then why not get both? Bling + literature = Mother’s Day success. And, maybe throw some food in there too. Or, booze wine.  I’ll take care of one part for you:

At Flavorwire, Emily Temple posted a list: “10 of the Best Memoirs about Mothers.”

Two titles that look especially compelling are Alison Bechdel’s second work of non-fiction, Are You My Mother: A Comic Drama and Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club.  Bechdel’s book  is a graphic memoir. Having recently fallen for Bill Willingham’s Fables, I’d love to take a look.

Also on the list is Megan O’Rourke’s The Long Goodbye, which I’ve been meaning to read. It seems like something one needs to think on for a while, to work up to. I have no doubt it is brilliant, but I’ll wait until I feel open to immersing myself in the themes.

The most surprising item on the list is a memoir by James Ellroy, My Dark Places. Yes, Ellroy, and it sounds dark. See the full list by Emily Temple at Flavorwire.

Novel, stories, poetry, or memoir—what books about mothers do you recommend, have you enjoyed, or would you give as a gift? Please let us know in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Mothers

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  1. A bit of a stretch, maybe, but I’d add Angela’s Ashes. It’s as much about parenting as it is about childhood.

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