Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Mother’s Day: Essential Reading

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The "Mother-List" has landed! In honor of May, the Mother-of-all-Months, we at Literary Mama have compiled our favorite maternal-centric books into one grand "Mother-List."

Read, and be nurtured.

Share the Love! Download the list here and bring it to your favorite mama-friendly bookstore!

Shari MacDonald Strong, Senior Editor and Columnist, suggests, "For a more global perspective on mothering and on the loss of mothers by the world's orphans, I highly recommend, and am currently reading, Melissa Fay Greene's There Is No Me Without You. Greene's book, about an Ethiopian widow's struggle to help orphans who have lost parents via AIDS, is moving, enlightening, soul-stirring, heartbreaking, and empowering -– and particularly important at this crucial time, when the 24-hour news cycle has numbed so many of us to the needs of the world and its children. There Is No Me Without You reminds us of how real the devastation is, puts faces to those we too often think of as too-big-to-fathom numbers, and dramatically highlights the impact of what one person, one mother -- and of what all people with compassion and open hearts -- can do."

Fiction Editor Suzanne Kamata, recommends The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta, "Even though this darkly comic novel is about a Nigerian woman in 1950s Lagos, her struggles as a working woman with a husband at war resonate for the modern reader."

Caroline Grant, Senior Editor and Columnist, writes "Operating Instructions was the first piece of creative nonfiction about motherhood that I read, and it will always be important to me because of its sheer honesty. I also love A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother, a memoir by novelist Rachel Cusk."

Sarah Raleigh Kilts, Literary Reflections Editorial Assistant, chooses "The 2007 Man Booker Prize winner, The Gathering, by Irish author, Anne Enright. Dark, brooding, and witty, this quiet novel simultaneously explores grief, memory, and secrets within the Hegarty clan. Mother issues figure prominently as the stories of four generations of Hegarty women are unraveled and revealed."

Kathy Moran, Literary Reflections Editor, reveals "My essential mother-centric book has to be the ever popular novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Marmee, patterned after Alcott's own mother, is a philanthropist, a teacher, and an activist, who dispenses wisdom such as this: 'Have regular hours for work and play, make each day useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life become a beautiful success, in spite of poverty." I never tire of rereading this book and have even adopted Marmee as my 'grandma' name."

Kristina Ringstrom, Fiction Editor, writes "I Don't Know How She Does It, by Allison Pearson is a poignant picture of a mother who "Does It All" but nearly loses her mind and her self in the process. It's no slapstick comedy, but a sensitive and sometimes painfully funny rendering of a reality so many of us live."

Nicole Stellon O'Donnell, Columns Editor, is impressed with "Never Done: A History of American Housework by Susan Strasser. It makes me reflect on how grateful I am to have been born when I was. It's interesting to see the connections between what needs to be done around the house, how it has to be done, who does it, and how it affects society."

Sharon Kraus, Poetry Editor, shares "I return whenever I need a mother's day to Sharon Olds -- a first teacher for many of us mother-writers, who led the way. The Dead and the Living has poems about her children that remain powerful, and instructive, and gorgeous. "Six-Year-Old Boy," "Pajamas," "For My Daughter" and the others in that "The Children" section pay attention -- and look -- in a way I still find moving and generous."

12-step Mama, confesses "These children's books about mother love always get me: The Runaway Bunny and I'll Love You Forever. The Essential Hip Mama: Writing From the Cutting Edge of Parenting edited by Ariel Gore is chock full of diverse, original mother thoughts. And The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, moves me to no end about what mothering means."

Sarah Raleigh Kilts is a proud member of the amazing Motherlode Writers Group (I love you guys!). Her writing has been published in Common Ties. Following her passions led her to discover a new career that’s tons of fun — as an elementary school music teacher to 220 fabulous 3rd 4th and 5th graders she gets to share her love of music and world culture with a captive — though often wiggly and giggly — audience. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and can sometimes be found (even on school nights!) performing in local watering holes plucking the bass and singing with her hubby Thom in their Indie Rock duo, Diablo’s Dust. Three of their albums are currently available on iTunes.

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