Best Books To Gift For Mother’s Day, Part 3

Published by The Connected Reader on

Best Books To Gift For Mother's Day

I’ve got one more list for y’all if you have readers in your life you are celebrating for Mother’s Day.

In Part 1, I shared rom-coms and some lighter-ish fiction. In Part 2, Sarah from @smtlovestoread shared mystery thrillers.

Part 3 has more complex fiction and nonfiction. These are not beach reads, but they are engrossing nonetheless.

For the women who like complicated families

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Print   Audio

This book is dazzling. And not in a flashy, dance recital costume kind of way, but in a buried treasure you stumbled upon and keep finding new layers to kind of way. It follows one family across decades, from its origin in Korea to Japan, and beyond. Spoiler alert: It WILL break your heart.

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Print   Audio

Once you put your heart back together, you can pick up this book – but be prepared for it to break again. The last section in particular, will just have you overwhelmed with the beauty and pain that is being part of a family. This book tells the story of an Indian-Muslim family living in California. It is told in three sections, two in the present and one in the past, giving you context on everything that built up to the present.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Print   Audio

This is the story of a Black man and woman in the South navigating the impact of a racist criminal justice system. To continue the trend, this one broke me in a million pieces, from the inciting event to the very end. I stayed up late to finish the last 100 pages and I can count on two hands how many times I’ve done that in my life.

Three Junes  by Julia Glass

Three Junes  by Julia Glass

Print   Audio

This book came out in 2002. I read it at some point between 2003 and 2007 – and it has stayed with me. It tells the story of a family – a married man and woman, and their three sons – through the frame of events that happen in the month of June across three different years. I’m not sure if it stands the test of time, but I’m inspired now to re-read it and see.

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

Print   Audio

I judged this book by its cover and it did not disappoint. This starts as a story about four young musicians who form a quartet, and becomes a story about the ups and downs of when your work and family intertwine. It has alternating perspectives, which for me, is always a plus.

For the women who like stories about complicated women


Girls They Write Songs About by Carlene Bauer

Girls They Write Songs About by Carlene Bauer

Print   Audio

I still can’t articulate whether or not I liked this book, but it made me think and feel, which is why it landed on this list. It’s definitely one you want to talk with someone about after you finish it. It tells the story of two women and their friendship across decades as they navigate launching writing careers in the ‘90s in New York City, and later marriages, and motherhood. I saw it described as “reckless” and I think that is spot on.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Print   Audio 

This book is just zany. And while that is not my usual preference, I loved it. The main character is middle-aged woman who is a little bit lost; she becomes entangled in a neighborhood drama and ends up leaving her husband and young daughter. Chaos ensues as they attempt to find her and reconcile everything that has happened.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Print   Audio

I need a protagonist I can root for, so I almost had to abandon this book. I stuck with it, though, because there was a shift a little ways in that made me invested in the main character and the world around her. The main character, Eleanor, is a woman struggling with a traumatic past and loneliness – she wants a community but can’t take being part of a community. The balance of grief, trauma, and humor was just right for me with this one.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Print   Audio

An elderly woman looks back on her life and the pivotal moment when she left college and became part of a theater community in the 1940s in New York City. I was entranced with the messy, wonderful, layered life the main character builds on her own and the precariousness of living this life.

For the women who like something unique

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Print   Audio

This story is compelling – shifting back and forth through time to tell the story of two Black families across the 1900s, who are brought together because of a teenage pregnancy – but what really makes it unique is the writing. It is a novel, but it reads, as does most of Woodson’s work, like poetry. I listened to it and would highly recommend that experience.

Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett

Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett

Print   Audio

In this book, the narrator, her older sister, and her father are working through the grief after their mother and wife dies. It is unique because the narrator is a child and her voice and perspective are just so authentic, putting a new spin on an, arguably, familiar story.


Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Print   Audio

Sarah recommended this one on her list and I’m going to double-down on it. I do not read a lot of gothic literature or thrillers, but I loved this one. The setting is so creepy, and so are the characters surrounding the main character. The romantic relationship that develops in the book was so interesting and really had me guessing about what would happen until the very end.

For the women who like nonfiction

Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World by Eve Rodsky

Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World by Eve Rodsky

Print   Audio

I’ve written about this book a million times, including a review, and launching a book club to read it. If you have a woman in your life who is looking for space to pursue a creative interest, this is a must-read.

This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving The Place You Live by Melody Warnick

This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving The Place You Live by Melody Warnick

Print   Audio

Anyone else out there ask themselves: “Why do I live here?” Especially the last few years, with the pandemic and politics, I’ve asked myself that often. If you are moving or trying to invest in the place where you already live, this book provides some helpful steps for being intentional about building a connection to where you live.


The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee

Print   Audio
The author uses an example of the closing of public pools to illustrate the bigger picture of how racism hurts all of us, and think about this metaphor constantly. Basically, the idea is that white people in power couldn’t stand the thought of sharing pools with people of color, and specifically Black people, in the 1950s, so they just started draining and closing them – so no one could enjoy them. This all-or-nothing, zero sum mindset is pervasive in white dominant culture and McGhee captures how it has impacted so many aspects of our society today in writing that reads like fiction.

Good Talk: A Memoir In Conversations by Mira Jacob

Good Talk: A Memoir In Conversations by Mira Jacob

Print   Audio

Mira Jacob writes about her experience in a interracial marriage and raising a son who is half white and Jewish, and half Indian – all against the backdrop of the 2016 U.S. election and rise of Donald Trump. This resonated for me personally, but I think it’s more universal than that. It’s also a graphic novel!

Nobody WIll Tell You This But Me: A True (As Told To Me) Story by Bess Kalb

Nobody WIll Tell You This But Me: A True (As Told To Me) Story by Bess Kalb

Print   Audio

Bess Kalb in a comedy writer and her grandmother is a gem. Kalb writes about all the wisdom her grandmother has shared with her over the years as a means of processing the grief of losing her. Highly recommend this on audio.

Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice For Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong

Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice For Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong

Print   Audio

The comedienne, Ali Wong, writes letters to her daughters and they are just hilarious and real. I also loved the afterword, written by Wong’s then-husband; I’ll stand by the sentiment even though they are divorced now.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Even if you don’t use the links, I highly recommend checking out Bookshop.org and Libro.fm for access to tons of titles while still supporting an indie bookstore.

Categories: Book Lists

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