The Books Our Favorite Writers Want For Mother's Day
Nicole Chung, Emily Gould, Jia Tolentino, Kaitlyn Greenidge, and eight more writers with kids share the books on their own personal wishlists.
Who better to ask for Mother’s Day book recs than moms who are writers? We asked some of our favorite contemporary authors to share the books on their wishlists — from Alice Walker to Alison Bechdel. I want all of them.
Kaitlyn Greenidge: Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins
Morgan Jerkins' fantastic, expansive novel of mothers and daughters and Harlem, Caul Baby, is a meditation on the limits of inheritance and legacy. It's also a love letter to a rapidly changing neighborhood.
— Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of Libertie
Jia Tolentino: Crying in H-Mart by Michelle Zauner
I want Silvia Federici's Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle, because I mailed my copy to a friend who also become a mother during the pandemic and (though I realize this contradicts the logic of the commons) I think Federici would want both of us to have our own. I'm also planning on buying my own mom Michelle Zauner's Crying in H-Mart, a book I loved so much I instantly ordered it for a friend after finishing my copy; it's such a beautiful, enveloping memoir about loss and caregiving and complicated love.
— Jia Tolentino, author of Trick Mirror
Emily Gould: Let’s Talk About Hard Things by Anna Sale
I am a huge fan of Anna Sale's Death, Sex and Money podcast — the way she gets people to open up about the most intimate parts of their lives is riveting. I'm counting on her new book Let's Talk About Hard Things to let me in on some of her interviewing techniques, as well as contain a bunch of strangers' and famous people's darkest, weirdest, most private secrets.
— Emily Gould, author of Perfect Tunes
Anna Sale: The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel
This new graphic novel that traces Bechdel's entire life is about having a mom and being a daughter, and also about exercise as a series of fads and a way to feel strong and an essential tool to digest existential dread. I loved it so much and felt changed when it was over.
— Anna Sale, author of Let’s Talk About Hard Things
Nicole Chung: Lace & Pyrite: Letters From Two Gardens by Ross Gay and Aimee Nezhukumatathil
If you could see my office (and every other room in my house...), it would be obvious that I have nowhere else to put any books, but of course I haven't let that stop me from continuing to buy at least one a week. The next one I'm excited about is Lace & Pyrite: Letters From Two Gardens, a reissue of a chapbook of poem-letters between Ross Gay and Aimee Nezhukumatathil. I am whatever the opposite of a gardener is, but these are two of my favorite writers, and both letters and poems seem ideal for my pandemic attention span. I just ordered it as a comforting little gift for myself, and suspect I'll also be sending copies to friends and family.
— Nicole Chung, author of All You Can Ever Know
Aimee Nezhukumatathil: Peach State, by Adrienne Su
A book that criss-crosses the complicated terrains of growing up Chinese American in Atlanta, and the discovery and negotiations of what it means to find home in Asian grocery stores and restaurants. A dazzling array of forms: sestinas, ghazals, villanelles. I am teaching this one the first chance I get. No other poetry book in recent memory has made me more hungry than this one.
— Aimee Nezhukumatathil, co-author of Lace & Pyrite
Naomi Jackson: In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Alice Walker
I wish someone would be kind and thoughtful enough to give me a book for Mother’s Day that I’m likely to take a very long time to (re)read and then do me the favor of not asking me how I liked it. I would love to receive these two books: a first edition of Alice Walker’s essay collection In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens and Jamaica Kincaid’s My Garden (Book). This summer, I look forward to being fashionably late to the pandemic victory garden party. I want to get arms deep in the patch of earth behind my home, to rest, to remember/discover what it was about gardening that so entranced both my grandmothers in Antigua and Barbados.
— Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill
Jenny True: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
Pandemic + two jobs + toddler + tween = I just want to laugh “F*CK YOUR ‘IMPORTANT’ BOOK.” I kind of can't believe how hard this book made me laugh. I woke up my kid multiple times by laughing, and if I managed to hold it in, I was crying. I don't even know where to start with this book. It's my best friend.
— Jenny True, author of You Look Tired: An Excruciatingly Honest Guide to New Parenthood
Naomi Davis: Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad
I fully admit what originally intrigued me about this book was that old yellow VW van on the cover (love me a good visual and also anything yellow). But after reading the synopsis, it was the idea of connectedness through life's unknowns and ups and downs that we all must navigate through that piqued my interest. I love a good memoir narrated by the author, too (and, let's face it, the only way I "read" books these days), so the audio version is where it's at for this mama.
— Naomi Davis, creator of Love Taza and author of A Coat of Yellow Paint: Moving Through the Noise to Love the Life You Live
Naima Coster: Guidebook to Relative Strangers by Camille T. Dungy
Dungy is a sensitive, gracious, sharp writer, and these essays on motherhood, race, and history are at once intimate and illuminating. I read this book in the months after my daughter was born, and it was an invaluable companion to me. It nourished me as a mother, thinker, Black woman, and engaged person in the world.
— Naima Coster, author of What’s Mine and Yours
Jessica Winter: The Three Golden Keys by Peter Sis
I love browsing the exquisite catalogs of Honey & Wax Booksellers, the Brooklyn rare-book institution, even if I rarely have the money or the bravery to splurge on their treasures. I’m sorely tempted, though, by a signed first edition of The Three Golden Keys, the children’s book by the multiple Caldecott winner Peter Sis. It’s a dreamlike, densely filigreed tour of pre-Communist Prague, guided by a mysterious, fire-eyed cat — my kids treat most cats like celebrities, and I’m keen to introduce them to this one.
— Jessica Winter, author of The Fourth Child
Joanna Hershon: The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky
If I hadn’t read this novel several times already, the book I’d love to receive for Mother’s Day is The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky. This quietly suspenseful novel is a searching, sharp, and deeply empathetic investigation of art and parenthood. The propulsive narrative embodies the many questions that inevitably arise when we brave facing history in order to comprehend the present & try to (boldly) imagine a hopeful future.
— Joanna Hershon, author of St. Ivo
Nora Zelevansky: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
I've not yet gotten to read Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, which seems super compelling on multiple levels. So, I’d like that book and time to read! And, if I could ask for a second gift, which I think we all deserve after a year-plus of pandemic parenting, I’d want Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop pre-ordered — mama needs an escape!
— Nora Zelevansky, author of Competitive Grieving
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