Mother-Daughter Moment: A Two-Person Book Club

by Stacia L. Brown

Do you and your mother share books? Growing up, did she make sure that you gave her favorite children’s, young adult, or mainstream literary works a whirl? Mine did. (She was also pretty explicit about what she considered to be “too grown” a selection, but that’s another story for another post). Now that we’re all grown and everything is game as “age-appropriate,” swapping book suggestions is a great way to connect or reconnect with Mom. Or even better, why not start a book club with her?

Whether you’re in the same city and can meet in person to discuss your choices or you’re halfway around the country or the globe and have to Skype, a private book club is a wonderful way for each of you to get a greater sense of how the other interprets the world.

Here are few contemporary mother/daughter-friendly suggestions to get you started: 

1. You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other)

The super-long title tells you everything you need to know about this memoir actress/singer/diva Vanessa Williams penned with her mother, Helen. With its recounted tales of childhood rebellion, molestation, abortion, pageant scandal, and a phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes career trajectory, this book is a page-turner and a testament to the benefits of a mother’s firm hand and enduring love.

2. Silver Sparrow

I know, I know. Tayari Jones’ phenomenal and widely acclaimed third novel has been on all kinds of lists since its release last year, but with its careful examination of two mother-daughter relationships and the husband/father they have in common, it would make a fantastic book club choice for you and your mom. As soon as I finished it, I pushed my copy into my mom’s hands (she’s more of a memoir/biography person, so I don’t give her fiction recommendations unless I’m absolutely floored by the book). And the conversation it generated was unforgettable.

A bonus: because Silver Sparrow is new to paperback, Amazon is currently offering hardcover copies for $7.98!

3. Passing Love

Jacqueline Padgett’s latest novel is part travelogue, part mystery, and all interesting to read. Set mostly in Paris, it follows a middle aged woman’s first foray abroad and the secrets she learns about her family (especially her mother) once she arrives. Its plot points require a little suspension of disbelief, but its messages about what constitutes motherhood and its discussion of a daughter’s obligation make it worth the read.

4. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Baba Segi’s house is pretty full; he’s got three wives and seven children. So when he brings home a fourth, Bolanle, an attractive younger woman whose college education poses a threat, they conspire to get her out and fast. When Bolanle has trouble conceiving, the other wives think they’ve found their trump card, but things don’t go quite according to plan. Lola Shoneyin’s debut novel, published in paperback as The Secret Lives of the Four Wives, is a salacious, quick read chock full of humor and scandal. It might make your mama blush, but it’ll also make you gasp and giggle together.

5. October Suite

I always look for reasons to recommend Maxine Clair’s only novel. It’s one of my favorites. Set in 1950s Kansas, it follows October Brown, a new and reluctant colored school teacher who embarks on an affair with the married father of one of her students. The book grapples with the topics of post-partum depression, intra-family adoption, and personal redemption. It’s a beautifully written page-turner. Though October Suite is currently out of print, it should be easy to find used copies in good condition.

 

Honorable mentions to Maya Angelou’s Letter to My Daughter, asha bandele’s Daughterand Lorene Cary’s If Sons, Then Heirs

 

What books would you add?

  • Dreaming

    Do you and your mother share books? – No.

    Growing up, did she make sure that you gave her favorite children’s, young adult, or mainstream literary works a whirl? – No.

  • Sheena Miranda

    Such a great idea! Growing up, my mom and I read together all the time. I buy her a lot of books, but we don’t generally have the same taste in reading material. I think I’m going to give this a try though.

  • Tiffany W.

    My initial answer would be no, but if I sit down an think, I can recall mom reading my a big girl book, you know, one with no pictures and all words. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it was about the friendship between a dog and a cat. She got into it more than me. She would laugh and cry, it was very sweet now that I remember.

    I don’t have any kids now, but I’ll be sure to share novels with my cat…even if I have to put her in her cage to make her care.

  • Tiffany W.

    UPCHUCK AND THE ROTTEN WILLIE!!!! That’s what it was! I might just give her that book for Mother’s Day.

  • freebee33

    My mother is the reason I enjoy reading so much. Growing up, my mother was a Librarian so she always brought home books for us to read. I like the idea of a mother daughter book club…

  • kidole

    My mother and I had an unofficial book club. I would sneak to read all of her Zane, April Sinclair, Omar Tyre, and E.Lynn Harris books. Needless to say, that was the beginning of the end of my age of innocence!lol Thanks Mom!

  • http://www.gravatar.com/shiningsolace shiningsolace

    My twin sister and I started reading at the age of 3 since our parents read to us every night. Mom would even read us books while we were in the womb. Lol! Now, I usually buy my mom a book every week. We both love Beverly Jenkin’s books. :)

  • http://www.jacquelineluckett.com Jacqueline Luckett

    Thanks for the Passing Love recommendation. Mother and daughter relationships are complex, and fiction allows all of us to speculate, dream, reconsider and ponder the possibilities of change.

  • http://www.sugahoney.com suga

    My mom read to me in the womb and as soon as I popped out of the womb. She also took me on biweekly trips to the library and encouraged reading at every turn. Now that I’m grown and read voraciously, she comes to me for book suggestions and tries to borrow (read:steal) my favs. lol We don’t bond on much, but when it comes to reading, we are definitely on the same page.

  • Candy 1

    My mother is the reason I love to read. I saw her read all the time, she encouraged me to read. I taught myself to read by 4, and she fostered my love for books. We started sharing books by the time I was 13. We still swap books and share our must-read lists.

  • http://stacialbrown.com Stacia L. Brown

    Thanks so much for commenting! We’re so glad you stopped by. :-)

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