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?

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