Start a book club with your mom this year.
1. The Dream of a Common Language, Adrienne Rich.
This collection is divided into three sections. The first is “Power,” and it examines the accomplishments of great women, including a poem about Marie Curie that was prominently featured in the film Wild for those to whom this may sound familiar. The second section is composed of twenty-one lesbian love poems (perhaps a Neruda reference?) and were the first poems that Rich wrote on the subject after coming out as a lesbian the same year the collection was published. The final section examines female relationships in the context of the natural world. There is so much to unpack here so you should probably devote at least one book club session for each section.
2. My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante.
This book is the first in a Ferrante’s Neapolitan trilogy. It follows the lifelong friendship of Elena and Lila, two women who meet as young girls in the 1950s just outside of Naples. I gave this book to my mother for Christmas and to myself. I just started it and can’t wait to discuss it with her.
3. Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, Pema Chödrön.
In exchange, my mother gave me this book for Christmas, which I devoured during my move from LA to DC. Chödrön is a Tibetan Buddhist nun and this book lovingly and clearly examines the idea that we can live in impermanence; that we can and should embrace the uncertainty, the change, the chaos of our lives with mindfulness and wonder. This will probably be one of those books that I read once a year, every year.
4. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
My mother read the Little House series to me as a child so when this never-before-published autobiography came out at the end of last year, we were both thrilled. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book series was inspired by the life of her pioneer family in the latter half of the 19th century and her autobiography offers up the truth and some of the grittier sides of her experience.
5. Brick Lane, Monica Ali.
Brick Lane follows a young Muslim girl named Nazneen from Bangladesh who is forced to move to London as part of an arranged marriage to a man twenty years her senior. This book waxes poetic on our journeys as women, as mothers, as wives, and, critically, as lovers. There is so much for you and your mom to unpack here.
6. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan.
Tan’s best selling novel follows the lives of four Chinese immigrant families living in San Francisco. The title comes from the nickname the mothers and daughters of the families give to a club they form whose primary purpose is to bring them together to feast, play mahjong, and share stories from their lives. Perhaps you should enjoy some steamed buns and mahjong as you discuss it with your mom at your next book club?
What books would add to your mother-daughter reading list this year? Let us know in the comments section!