33 Books to Read with Your Mother

Whether your mom is just upstairs or thousands of miles away, reading a book together is a wonderful way to connect. You can introduce her to your favorite characters, learn something new, or just escape into a dreamy world of happy endings. The books on this list are sure to make you feel closer and more connected. Pick up two copies, one for you and one for her, and enjoy!

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
Reading this phenomenal series is a highbrow but thoroughly enjoyable way to celebrate friendship between women, whether those women are neighbors, sisters, or mothers. (You can also trade notes on what pen name you would use if you were to become an international bestselling author.)

Bad Girls Throughout History, by Ann Shen
What if mothers and daughters traded biographical tidbits about accomplished women the way sports fans trade stats? This collection of 100 profiles of revolutionary women includes pirates, scientists, spies, and other ladies who ditch ideas of “ladylike” and are sure to inspire you and your mother to live boldly and have some fabulously naughty conversations.

Just Between Us, by Meredith and Sofie Jacobs
Girl’s Life Magazine says this is the perfect gift for Mother’s Day, and we agree. The prompts in this shared journal will help you get to know everything from your mom’s guilty pleasure to her favorite thing about you. And if you don’t tear up writing about your favorite memory of your mom, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist
When Brené Brown says read a book, you read the book. This collection of essays is all about slowing down, simplifying, stepping away from worry, and doing what matters—like spending time with your mom. If you’re craving a deeper relationship with your mother or simply looking to feel more present, this book will stay with you for years to come.

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
If you want to start your own private book club à deux, this World War II novel about two sisters is a lovely place to start. With strong themes of loyalty, courage, and family, this tearjerker will leave you wanting nothing more than to give your mom a big hug, open a bottle of wine, and talk about this story.

Other Minds, by Peter Godfrey-Smith
If your relationship with your mom is less a meeting of the minds and more a battle against misunderstanding, contemplating the vast differences between humans and animals may help put it all in perspective. Written by a philosopher, this book examines how cephalopods think. Discussing animals that are highly intelligent but as alien as can be here on Earth, this book shines a light on the consciousness we share with other creatures—including our own mothers.

The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
See life through the eyes of a young girl who’s figuring out what it means to be a Latina woman in America, and join the many readers who have fallen in love with this book, including Maxine Hong Kingston and Julia Alvarez. For maximum enjoyment, we recommend reading this classic coming of age story with your mama over some mango with a little chili powder, lemon, and salt.

White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
If you can’t travel around the world with your mom, people watching together and listening to her commentary, this novel is the next best thing. Set in London, it follows a Muslim family and a Jamaican family as their stories intersect with vibrantly detailed characters and the full force of history.

Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born, by Tina Cassidy
This book looks at the natural birth process from a cultural perspective and encourages readers to move away from false assumptions about how “it’s always been this way,” to how and why women give birth in so many different ways around the world and throughout history. This fascinating read is sure to inspire questions about your own birth, and moving answers.

The Magnolia Story, by Chip and Joanna Gaines
For those who love nothing more than to binge Fixer Upper with their moms, reading this memoir from the stars of the dreamy TV show is a total pleasure. Daydream about being friends with Joanna, learn how the Gaines’ couple got engaged, and laugh at Chip’s many schemes (that are actually pretty brilliant). Then debrief with your mom when you’re in between seasons of your favorite home reno show.

Women in Science, by Rachel Ignotofsky
Geek out over 50 women who have made the world a better place through science, technology, engineering, and math. Illustrated biographies and infographics are filled with fun facts you’ll want to swap with each other. Both you and mom are sure to finish this book feeling inspired. And bonus, you can send each other book reports via the matching postcards—or just say I love you from afar.

Notorious RBG, by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
Take a deep dive on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with this biography that’s one part history book, one part annotated legal brief, and one part irreverent visual ode to this feminist pioneer. With interviews from friends, family, colleagues, and the Justice herself, this book will prompt your mom to tell stories about the way things used to be, and you’ll be in awe of all that has changed. The perfect book to read when you’re both worried about how much further we have to go.

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
This classic novel is told from the perspective of Chinese mothers and daughters. Readers experience the way their stories echo, overlap, and diverge through the generations. Filled with complex characters and poetic language, this is a book you’ll be talking about together for many years to come.

Hidden Figures, by Margo Lee Shetterly
Whether you watched the movie or not, you’ll want to share this book with your mom. It tells the true story of the African American women who worked at NASA in the ’50s and ’60s and played an integral role in making the space program successful. It’s a painful history to read, but sure to leave you feeling proud to be a woman.

The Whole 30, by Melissa Hartwig
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, investigating allergies, or just trying to have more energy, if you’re doing your first Whole 30, you’ll want to grab a buddy. Read the book with your mom, and soon you’ll be bonding over almond flour and grass-fed buffalo jerky. There’s nothing sweeter than finishing a Whole 30, having a cocktail, and toasting your accomplishment with your favorite person in the whole world.

Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
Grab this book to prepare yourself, so you can swoop in if Tina Fey ever stops being Amy Poehler’s BFF—or just look for ways you can make your relationship with your mom funnier, sassier, and more positive. This collection of essays, poems, mantras, photographs, and lists tackles everything from plastic surgery to viewing your career as a nasty boyfriend. Smart advice from Amy Poehler? Yes, please!

Caraval, by Stephanie Garber
If you just want a flat-out juicy read, this novel about a fantastical performance that only happens once a year delivers. Love, betrayal, and magic all play a role in weaving a spell that leaves readers eager to share the experience with besties, book clubs, and moms who are ready to debate the meaning of the tagline “Remember, it’s only a game.”

Rad American Women A-Z, by Kate Schatz
Get inspired with this children’s book that includes short biographies and bright graphic illustrations. Patti Smith, Rachel Carson, first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation Willa Mankiller, and more are all introduced in A to Z fashion. Compare notes with your mom when you reach X “is for the women whose names we don’t know.” There’s sure to be a woman you want to add to this list.

I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai
Travel around the world, experience life under the Taliban, and learn what it means to live in a culture that believes girls shouldn’t go to school. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai encourages readers to stand up in big and small ways for women everywhere, and her memoir is sure to leave you and your mother inspired to work together to help women around the world.

Beloved, by Toni Morrison
This classic historical novel is as much about the powerful bond between mothers and daughters as it is about slavery. An unforgettable read, this moving story will have you and your mom crying, hugging, and asking deep questions about what it means to truly be free.

Talking as Fast as I Can, by Lauren Graham
Until there’s a new Gilmore Girls season (maybe…hopefully…there’s gotta be!), you can share your love of all things Gilmore with Lauren Graham’s collection of essays. Written in the same smart, funny voice we love to watch on TV, Graham tells stories about living on a houseboat, dating in Hollywood, and developing the craft that has made so many mothers and daughters fall in love with her character.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
An idiosyncratic relationship between a precocious teenager and a childlike mother lies at the center of this hilarious and wise novel. Told through emails, letters, bills, FBI reports, and more, it will have readers examining their own relationships with tenderness and affection.

Bringing Up Bébé, by Pamela Druckerman
Debate whether the French have it all figured out, or if they know more about croissants than childcare, as you read this modern guide to parenting. Ask your mom when you started sleeping through the night, share a laugh over the curse words French children are allowed to say, and reassure your maman that you love her despite her provincial American parenting ways.

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed’s deep grief following her mother’s death is one of the tragedies that leads her to hike the grueling Pacific Crest Trail. But her mother’s love and wisdom also gives Strayed strength as she journeys away from addiction and a broken marriage, toward self-awareness and hope. This memoir is sure to leave you treasuring your own mother.

Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Keep your mother-daughter book club going strong with this Oprah-endorsed bestseller. Elizabeth Gilbert is a joy to read, and this memoir about her time recovering from heartache and depression in Italy, India, and Indonesia transformed the lives of readers around the world. If you’re hoping to book a trip with your mom anytime soon, this is the perfect book to get you both inspired.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child
Start your own Julia and Julia project by working your way through over 500 recipes with your (hopefully patient) mom. Gasp as your soufflé falls, admire Julia’s clear instructions, and toast your own success whenever your results are edible. By the end of Volume II, you’ll surely have sharpened your knife skills, expanded your tastes, and enjoyed some good meals together.

Cleopatra, by Stacy Schiff
Travel back in time with your mom to explore the life of one of history’s most famous women. Thoroughly researched and laced with sensuous details, this biography captures the queen’s mystique and celebrates her power. Just remember who the real royalty in your relationship is—mom!

The Beauty and The Beast, by Gabrielle-Suzanna Barbot de Villenueve
Indulge your bedtime fairytale fantasies with this 3D interactive book. With over 200 pages, there’s a foldout map of the Beast’s castle, a punch-out rose, and, of course, the beloved story. Relive tuck-ins with this magical tale that’s old as time.

Becoming Wise, by Krista Tippett
My mom wants to be friends with Krista Tippet, and I’m sure she’s not the only one. After interviewing so many deep thinkers, Tippet has put down her own wise words in a book that offers insights on how to live a meaningful life. Read it together, then talk about the big and small ways you can make the world, or simply the hours you spend together, a better place.

The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
You can’t go wrong reading Joan Didion, and this title is one of her masterpieces. Written after her husband and daughter died in quick succession, in it Didion describes the brutal, crazy nature of grief in a way that will make you grateful to be alive and able to share this “one wild and precious life” with your mother.

The House of Spirits, by Isabel Allende
Discover the love, pain, and spirits that weave through the lives of three generations. A phenomenal example of magical realism, this literary classic will remind you of your own family, while at the same time transporting you to a world only a master storyteller like Allende could invent. The perfect book to read when you’ve been itching to ask your mom about your great-great-grandparents.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
Head off an extensive clean-out session when your parents downsize with Marie Kondo’s approach to sorting, discarding, and organizing everything from books to clothes. Reading this together is a gift for your future self. And when your parents open the garage and find there’s plenty of room for their car, they’ll thank you, too.

Hallelujah, Anyway, by Anne Lamott
Whatever your relationship with your mother, forgiveness will go a long way in keeping it healthy. Wise writer Anne Lamott helps readers understand how to invite mercy into their relationships with family, friends and not friends, and even themselves. Read this with your mom, and you’ll soon experience more kindness and gentle grace during your time together. Hallelujah!

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