Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Essential Reading: Motherhood

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This Mother's Day, we bring you the Essential Reading for Motherhood. The list is rich with humorous reads (always welcome), and also includes selections that are more serious (always necessary). At the end of the list, we also include a link to books by our very own Literary Mamas! We wish you a Happy Mother's Day!

Download the list to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.

Suzanne Kamata, Fiction Co-Editor, writes, "The Big Rumpus: A Mother's Tale from the Trenches by Ayun Halliday should be considered a classic. Ayun's writing makes me laugh out loud and nod my head. And the chapter about her "neo-natal sweet potato" nearly broke my heart. After reading this alternative memoir, I wanted to be more like Ayun - a woman who wasn't too worried about her wild children or messy house, who nurtured her bohemian self and made art out of the details of daily life with kids."

Assistant Editor in Poetry, Ginny Kaczmarek, says, "I keep turning to Ariel Gore's The Mother Trip: Hip Mama's Guide to Staying Sane in the Chaos of Motherhood. Before I had a child, the book's vision of motherhood (she deals honestly with depression, family court, and "family values") terrified me; now I look to it when I need to remember I'm not crazy, I'm just struggling to integrate motherhood with the rest of my life. In a calm, witty, and intimate voice, she blends memoir with social criticism to offer alternatives to the damaging stereotype of the self-sacrificing "good mother" in favor of "The Whole Mom." Best of all, it's composed of very short segments, so you can read one or two at a time in those all-too-brief moments of calm."

Ezine Co-Editor Jessica DeVoe Riley, says, "I am reading Writing Motherhood: Tapping Into Your Creativity as a Mother and a Writer by Lisa Garrigues. It has inspired me to be grateful for my role as a mother for all the life it gives to my writing. I've often considered my writer identity an escape from the (sometimes) stressful role of mother and this book has encouraged me take the stressful moments and rather than escape from them, use them to fuel my writing."

Literary Reflections Editorial Assistant, Merle Huerta, shares, "When I first read Sue Miller's The Good Mother in 1986, I was newly married, two years away from motherhood, and so smug and sure the issues plaguing Anna Dunlop, the protagonist of the story couldn't possibly happen to me. What mother allows her own three-year-old daughter to shower unattended with a lover? In her defense, Anna was blinded by a love affair that unleashed passion that her New England upbringing had earlier stifled. Then in 2001, a year after falling in love and remarrying my second husband, I lost custody of my three children. And though the issues surrounding my custody fight were quite different from Anna Dunlop's, Sue Miller's poignant narrative, stark as a winter's landscape, came back to me. It's so easy when raising children to assume that our personal choices for our own children are infallible. But "The Good Mother" makes it clear that taking care of our needs as women, and taking care of the needs of our children, can sometimes be paradoxical."

And finally, Columnist and Columns Editor, Stephanie Hunt, shares, "I vote for Roz Chast's Childproof. It is a perfectly hilarious cartoon collection, including "Bad Mom Cards," "The Miranda Act at Home," and "Heimlich's Mother's Maneuvers" and other random acts of brillance. She's Woody Allen with colored pencils. Sadly, the book is no longer in print; but if you can't find it used on the Internet, you can find all these cartoons and oodles more in her Collected Works volume. This title is worth its weight in laughs."

Also this Mother's Day, or any day, carve out some of your mama reading time for a title or two from our Literary Mama booklist. Find it here.


Christina Marie Speed writes poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications, including Caper Journal, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune Online, and The View From Here. She lives with her husband and two sons in a sunny fourth-floor walkup in Brooklyn, New York.


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