Columns > Published on May 5th, 2016

7 Starter Ideas For Your Mother-Daughter Book Club

Daughters of the world: Mother’s Day is right around the corner! The obvious gift choice is a book, but what about an unexpected spin on this tried and true staple? Try buying two books. Two of the same book, in fact. One for your Mother, and one for you. I'm talking a Mother-Daughter book club!

It sounds cheesy, but based on my experience, it is a wonderful way to connect with the woman I used to see every day, but now only see once or twice a year. We talk on the phone often, but the conversations tend to follow the same thread. It's harder and harder to really speak about the specifics of our lives when we aren’t living in the same state, let alone the same house.

When we started reading books together, a whole new thread of conversation emerged, and I found myself getting to know my mother in a way I hadn’t previously experienced.

Here are seven starter suggestions for your Mother-Daughter book club endeavor, some pre-tested by yours truly, and others completely new!


1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

This emotional sprawl of a novel is best digested with someone there for support, reading along with you. I could not imagine reading A Little Life on my own. I needed to talk to someone about Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm. And Harold! At the end of every section, you’ll want to call your Mother to tell her you love her and to mourn the many different kinds of losses these characters experience. 

[amazon 9780804172707 inline]

 

2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Maria Semple

This story of a mother gone missing and a daughter putting together the pieces of said mother's life in order to find her is one that is truly tailor made for a Mother-Daughter book club. Its format is unusual, and the story is both funny and touching. Also, Richard Linklater is in talks to direct a film adaption starring Cate Blanchett? Sold on all fronts. If you two are looking for a novel with mainstream appeal that still manages to be original, you've found it.

[amazon 9780316204262 inline]

 

 

 

 

3. August: Osage County by Tracy Letts

If you have any sort of a strained relationship with your mother, this one might be a tough, but vital, co-read. There is at least one character in this play you will both relate to in some way, and perhaps there are multiple. This is my favorite play written in recent history, so I am a bit biased, but I consider it to be required family reading (and viewing, if possible) across the board.

[amazon 9780822223009 inline]

 

 

 

 

 

4. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

My mother likes to remind me of her life's trajectory and compare it to mine with brutal honesty. When I turned 27, she called me to say, “I was 27 when I gave birth to your older sister, you know.” Waldman’s novel is told from the perspective of Nathaniel P., a frighteningly accurate example of one of my generation’s “eligible bachelors.” Once your mom spends a little time in Nathaniel's head she might understand why you haven’t settled down and started a family yet.

[amazon 9781250050458 inline]

 

 

 

 

5. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

This one is almost too obvious, I know. Enjoyed letter-by-letter, Tiny Beautiful Things will spark multiple conversations about every aspect of life and love. I urged everyone I knew to read this book once I had, including my mother. If you want to do a book pairing, this could easily be read alongside Torch, Strayed’s debut novel that delves deep into family loss.

[amazon 9780307949332 inline]

 

 

 

 

 

6. When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams

On the surface this book is another obvious choice for a Mother-Daughter book club: a woman writing about her mother. Williams goes about it in such a beautiful, poetic way, however, that it’s hard to call this book obvious. This is the kind of book you will both be highlighting and writing notes in constantly. When you’re finished reading your respective copies, you can share the passages that spoke to you the most as a mother and as a daughter, but especially as a woman.

[amazon 9781250024114 inline]

 

 

7. The Circle by Dave Eggers

One of the first books we read together, The Circle’s fast-paced, nail-biter of a plot was the perfect novel to get my mother back into reading after a long hiatus. I think she also associated me with the protagonist, and I could chime in about the ways Mae and I are similar, but also the ways we are very different. Very, very different. Eggers always writes such digestible books, and after finishing this one my mom immediately moved on to A Hologram for the King. Go Mom!

[amazon 9780345807298 inline]

 

 


Now that you have some starter options, I strongly urge you to call up your mother on her special day and surprise her with a book club suggestion. Experiences are always the best gifts, and reading together is an unforgettable experience.

What are you favorite Mother-Daughter worthy books?

About the author

Christine J. Schmidt is a writer originally from New Jersey. After receiving her BFA in Dramatic Writing from SUNY Purchase, she worked at Seattle Repertory Theatre as their artistic literary intern. She recently left Brooklyn, where she was a bookseller and events host at WORD, to reside in Los Angeles. She has previously written for New York Theatre Review, and her plays have been read and produced at theaters in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Washington. Coffee is her favorite thing.

Similar Columns

Explore other columns from across the blog.

Book Brawl: Geek Love vs. Water for Elephants

In Book Brawl, two books that are somehow related will get in the ring and fight it out for the coveted honor of being declared literary champion. Two books enter. One book leaves. This month,...

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Books That Should Be Box Office Blockbusters

It seems as if Hollywood is entirely bereft of fresh material. Next year, three different live-action Snow White films will be released in the States. Disney is still terrorizing audiences with t...

Books Without Borders: Life after Liquidation

Though many true book enthusiasts, particularly in the Northwest where locally owned retailers are more common than paperback novels with Fabio on the cover, would never have set foot in a mega-c...

From Silk Purses to Sows’ Ears

Photo via Freeimages.com Moviegoers whose taste in cinema consists entirely of keeping up with the Joneses, or if they’re confident in their ignorance, being the Joneses - the middlebrow, the ...

Cliche, the Literary Default

Original Photo by Gerhard Lipold As writers, we’re constantly told to avoid the cliché. MFA programs in particular indoctrinate an almost Pavlovian shock response against it; workshops in...

A Recap Of... The Wicked Universe

Out of Oz marks Gregory Maguire’s fourth and final book in the series beginning with his brilliant, beloved Wicked. Maguire’s Wicked universe is richly complex, politically contentious, and fille...

Reedsy | Editors with Marker (Marketplace Editors)| 2024-05

Submitting your manuscript?

Professional editors help your manuscript stand out for the right reasons.

Reedsy Marketplace UI

1 million authors trust the professionals on Reedsy. Come meet them.

Enter your email or get started with a social account: