23 Absorbing Books About Mothers and Motherhood

Books about mothers and motherhood

These inspiring books about mothers and motherhood will give you a fresh perspective on what it means to be a mother. These books examine mothers from the best to the worst and everything in between.

Whether we are examining our roles as mothers in relation to the many hats we wear or navigating the world as a mother, these novels about mothers will definitely make you take a step back and think!

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Table of Contents

Best Books About Mothers and Motherhood 2023

River Sing me home

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

February 2023 Good Morning America Book Club Pick

Prior to reading this story, I had little concept of what the end of slavery meant in the Caribbean. I knew nothing of the apprenticeships and horrible conditions formerly enslaved people were forced to endure.

And I certainly had no idea of what it would take to reunite a family of formerly enslaved individuals who had been ripped apart when they were sold by their owners.

Rachel’s story changes that. She runs away from the plantation in Barbados to reunite with her family. She sets off on a journey to find her 5 children. What she finds out about each encompasses some of the many ways a formerly enslaved person’s life could turn out.

 I don’t think anyone will be able to read this story without shedding a tear and thinking hard about colonialism and the ripple effects it has had on generations. This is another book that is heavier in our ultimate beach reads 2023 post but you will not want to miss reading this pick.

friendship breakup

The Friendship Breakup by Annie Cathryn

When it comes to books about motherhood, this is a must-read. As moms, we’ve all experiences the highs and lows of making new mom friends, but this story looks at what happens when friendships run their course.

Do you fight to keep the friendship alive or send it on its way? Well, Fallon is not letting them go so easily and her attempts to win back her friends are hysterical, but also poignant.

This book about friendship had me examining my own relationships and I knew I needed to include it in the ultimate list of beach reads 2023. It’s also one of my picks for the best books of 2023 and I knew this needed to be on our list of books for book clubs.

Celebrity Book Club Books About Mothers

little fires everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

September 2017 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

I have mixed feelings about this family drama book about motherhood.  There was nothing I didn’t like.  It is a great story and written really well.  I think because of all the hype I was expecting to be completely blown away. 

Nobody in Shaker Heights was prepared when Mia, a single mother and artist, rents a house from the Richardsons. When friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, the town becomes divided.

Ng has depth to her characters and looks at highly emotional issues. I ended up really liking the book once I got past the beginning and knew we needed to include it in novels about artists.

Dava Shastris Last Day 1

Dava Shastri’s Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti

Good Morning America Book Club December 2021 Pick

I DEVOURED this contemporary fiction story of a billionaire music mogul who releases her death announcement 2 days early so she can read her own end-of-life articles. 

The best part was that during the snowstorm that trapped her family with her at the ski chalet, she neglected to tell them about her terminal illness and her harebrained scheme. 

We get to see the impact the decision has on her family as well as get a look at her colorful life before her cancer diagnosis. This family saga book about motherhood was so compelling.

Black Cake

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

A Read With Jenna Pick for February 2022

I absolutely loved this contemporary fiction which is a story about love, family, and acceptance. It captured me from the first page with the story and the writing.

When Eleanor Bennett dies, she leaves a voice recording for her two children Benny and Byron. She wants to tell them things about her life that she could not say when she was alive.

While listening to their mother’s story, Byron and Benny learn about their mother, family, and themselves. They try to piece their relationship back together. The novel looks at everyone’s lives in the present and the past, but in its essence, it is a book about motherhood.

Find this book in Books About Women in Sports / Books for Book Club / Books About Mothers / BIPOC Female Authors / Books with Color in the Title

The Mother

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Woah. This story is incredible. I was captivated by Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey’s story about their close-knit Black community and their love triangle. I loved listening to the foreshadowing of The Mothers. I was contemplating the what-could-have-been and the what-will-be in equal measure.

⁣And the last line of the last paragraph just resonated with me as a mother in a long line of mothers.⁣ A perfect pick for our list of books about mothers.

celebrity book club

The Best Celebrity Book Clubs: What to Read Now

Looking for more? Check out our celebrity book club hub where you can find everything you need.

Contemporary Fiction Books About Mothers

Lessons in Chemistry and more goodreads choice awards 2022 books

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

April 2022 GMA Book Club Pick

I don’t even know where to begin with this unique contemporary fiction story. Elizabeth Zott is a chemist in the 50s when women were expected to know their place in society — their place being the kitchen and the home.

Elizabeth struggles to be taken seriously in her field and as a single mother, in this amazing book. So when an offer to host a cooking show for women is put in her path, she reluctantly takes it.

She uses her no-nonsense attitude and chemistry principles to teach the women in America to not only cook but to follow their dreams outside of the home.

Zott is a quirky character like Eleanor Oliphant with a charming daughter and a dog whose inner monologue is as quirky as hers. An absolutely wonderful book about motherhood! You can also find this book on our list of Books Like The Love Hypothesis as well.

Are you looking for the perfect book for your next book club? Check out our Lessons in Chemistry Book Club Guide. If you love this book and are looking for more, we also have 15 Books Like Lessons in Chemistry.

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Rebecca Serle has done it again with this book set in Italy. Katy’s mother, Carol, has died and left Katy to take their trip to Positano alone. When Katy leaves she is uncertain about everything and whether she will return to her marriage.

Then, the impossible happens, and Carol appears at Katy’s hotel. She is in perfect health and thirty years old. She is not the woman Katy thought she knew. As she gets to know her mother, she realizes more about herself.

Why I Love It: This is a beautiful, well-written book with a touch of magic. I loved how Katy and Carol are able to develop a relationship in Italy after Carol died. It is unique and wonderful.

Find This Book In: Contemporary Fiction / Book Set in Italy / Book About Grief / Best Magical Realism Books / Books About Mothers/ Books Set on a Beach / Book Club Book

Summer Romance

Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan

Ali is a newly single mom and a professional organizer whose life could not be messier. When her mom died, she couldn’t get over it and her already failing marriage could not recover.

When she meets Ethan, she decides that a summer romance would be the perfect thing for her to start the next chapter in her life. She does not realize that Ethan might turn into so much more.

Why I Love This Book: Same Time Next Summer and Nora Goes Off Script were both books I loved, so I could not wait to read this book. It’s a slow-burn romance that deals with the loss of a parent, the loss of self, and how to move forward one step at a time. Throughout the book, Ali moves through the stages of grief, mourning the loss of her mother. It was poignant and moving with the HEA you expect. #gifted

Find this book in Best Beach Reads 2024 / Best New Romance Books / Best Books About Motherhood

The School for Good Mothers

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

January 2022 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

This book, about a mother sent to a reform institute after making a parenting mistake, is billed as satire. The problem was I felt equal parts uneasy and angry.

The “school” she was sent to simulates parenting under extreme conditions in a way that is detrimental to the parents and the kids. I didn’t find it entertaining, but rather disturbing and anger-provoking. This book about motherhood is sure to invoke some lively conversation.

The scenarios and treatment of mothers and kids were strange and unreasonable. It was just not a great story for me at this point in the pandemic.

Find This Book In Read with Jenna Book Club / Modern Dystopian Novels

big little lies

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

This book is Liane Moriarty at her finest. It’s all about a group of mothers in a community who share some big lies. Their friendships take center stage, but there is a fair amount of family drama as well in this domestic noir. This is one of the most popular thriller books around.

This novel was recently turned into a show on HBO starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and more. This book has a little bit of everything from ex-husbands and scandals. Sometimes little lies are so much more.

Find this book in Books About Motherhood / Domestic Thriller Books / Best Mystery Books /Psychological Thriller Books

Where'd You go Bernadette 12 more books like Where the Crawdads Sing

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Bee is so excited that she has won a trip to Antarctica for her perfect grades. As she is preparing to go, her mother, Bernadette, disappears.

This is a hilarious satire that is about finding yourself, coming to terms with who you are, and the power of the bond between a mother and daughter. It is a delightful book about motherhood.

Happy and You know it

Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin

A funny bit of women’s fiction, this story revolves around a playgroup on the Upper East Side and their music teacher. As each of the moms in the playgroup struggle with aspects of marriage and motherhood, their guitar-playing musician has a different set of problems.

The drama in this book could rival an episode of RHONY for sure, but that’s what made it so delicious! This would make the perfect beach or vacation read!

contemporary fiction header

Ultimate List of Contemporary Fiction

Love Contemporary Fiction? I do too! The Ultimate List of Contemporary Fiction is carefully divided by genres.

Books About Motherhood

The Wife App

The Wife App by Carolyn Mackler

Lauren, Madeline, and Sophie all have separate reasons to be mad that they are taken for granted, and on a girls’ night out, they decide to build an app that monetizes the mental load of being a wife.

In the process, of monetizing the chores most women do for free, they can unburden their minds and prioritize their own needs.

Why We Liked it: We love the conversation this sparks about the mental load of being a wife and mother. The book drags a little on the technical aspect of the app, but it was interesting watching each woman come into their own later in life.

the husbands

The Husbands by Chandler Baker

August 2021 Good Morning America Book Club Pick

Ladies, get your book clubs geared up for Chandler Baker’s newest novel. It’s part mystery, part social commentary, but it’s the latter that packs a punch in this contemporary fiction.

Baker examines the mental load that women carry as wives and mothers, particularly working women, and how it differs from what society expects of men.

Murder in the desirable Dynasty Ranch neighborhood has lawyer and prospective buyer, Nora, looking into what happened. With all the Stepford-style husbands she is meeting, she’s starting to wonder what kind of place Dynasty Ranch is after all. This is a perfect book for book clubs, it is such a thought-provoking book. You will have such a great discussion about this book about motherhood.

This is how it always is

This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

October 2018 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

Wow! There are so many things that I loved about this contemporary fiction book.  Rosie and Penn have five boys.  The youngest, Claude wants to be a girl when he grows up.  As this family navigates life with secrets, there is never a good time to explain that your youngest daughter was born a male. 

These loving and supportive parents try to navigate a world in which not everybody is open-minded.  This family drama book is poignant and all too realistic.  It captures the innocence of youth and the struggles of an entire family. This is one of the best book club books on this list and a powerful book about motherhood. It is one of the feel-good novels you won’t want to put down.

The Last Thing He Told me

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

May 2021 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

I raved about this book when I read it earlier this month! Well-chosen, Reese! The story of a stepmother and her daughter as they try to find the girl’s father after his abrupt departure. This is a powerful book about motherhood.

Why I Like It: This mystery has so much heart as you see Hannah bond with and try to protect her new stepdaughter, Bailey. I did not see the ending of this book coming, but absolutely adored it. This is one of the mystery books that will keep you turning the page.

Find this book in Domestic Noir / Books About Mothers / Ultimate Mysteries / Best Beach Reads

gifted school

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger

This contemporary fiction story revolves around four families as they work to get their children into the new public charter school for gifted children in their wealthy Colorado neighborhood. There are lots of family secrets to unravel and drama galore, but there is a message at the heart of this book.

How much of our wishes and lives are we pushing on our children? Is being the very best what they should be striving for? I found myself contemplating my own children and how I’m raising them. Isn’t that the best part of a good book?

When the story hits so close to home that it leaves you contemplating your life, your children, and your purpose in the world. I can’t recommend this book about motherhood enough. It’s highly entertaining and, quite frankly, a must-read for the parents.

cutting teeth

Cutting Teeth by Chandler Baker

In this book about motherhood, Darby, Mary Beth, and Rhea are each trying to find themselves. Their personal identities have become linked to being mothers.

When their preschoolers develop a medical condition in which they all crave blood, their willingness to give every part of themselves to their children is tested.

And then, their teacher is found dead, with only the four-year-olds as both the witnesses and prime suspects. This pick is a thrilling story about the standards mothers must uphold. It was completely original – unlike any story I’ve ever read before.

Historical Fiction Books About Mothers

The Light Between Oceans and more isolation books

The Light Between Oceans by M.L Stedman

A lighthouse keeper and his wife have gotten used to the lonely, isolated life of maintaining the lighthouse on a faraway island. But they are yearning for a baby to keep them company.

When one washes ashore, they quickly claim the child as their own without reporting it to the authorities. On a rare outing in town 2 years later, they bring their daughter along and realize the impact of what they have done.

Why We Loved it: This was a heartbreaking but beautiful read and the movie adaptation was excellent as well.

Find this book in 1920s Novels / Books about Mothers / Sad Books / Isolation Thrillers

little women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I remember reading this coming-of-age novel with my grandmother when I was young. It features a family of four girls who are trying to support each other and their mother while their father is away at war.

The classic story by Alcott has survived for generations for a reason, the way she wonderfully encapsulates what it’s like to be in a family. The highs and lows of the personal and collective lives of Beth, Jo, Amy, and Meg are an endearing testimony to the bonds of sisters.

Find this book in Books for 13-year-olds / Literary Classics / Books about Motherhood

beloved

Beloved by Toni Morrison

HOW HAVE I NEVER READ TONI MORRISON BEFORE? I swear I thought I had read this book, but after reading The Toni Morrison Book Club, I realized I hadn’t. When my library hold finally came up for this one, I realized I was so excited to read it.

Morrison is easily one of the most gifted writers I’ve ever read. Beloved, which is based on the true story of a runaway slave, haunted me while I was reading it. I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Find this book in Magical Realism Books / Best Classic Books / Books about Motherhood / Ghost Books

Historical Fiction

Ultimate List of Historical Fiction

Love Historical Fiction? The Ultimate List of Historical Fiction is the perfect list for you. It is carefully divided by time.

Thrillers About Mothers and Motherhood

the perfect mother

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

This book had me so anxious that I had to read it in 2 days. I seriously couldn’t sleep thinking about baby Midas’s kidnapping. I needed to know what was going to happen and when the answers were revealed, my jaw was on the ground.

The only thing I didn’t love was the seriously anxious feelings I have. Too close to home I guess, I definitely checked on my sleeping kids more than usual after reading this book about motherhood.

Room by Emma Donoghue and more isolation books

Room by Emma Donoghue

This is a haunting story about a woman held captive in a shed for years with her five-year-old son. She tries to teach him and entertain him in their tiny room until they have a chance to escape. This is an unforgettable pick from books that will emotionally wreck you.

Following their escape, they find acclimating to normal life to be challenging, especially for the little boy. This story will pull on your heartstrings and leave you in tears.

Even though the saying is “the book is better”, the movie adaptation of this contemporary fiction book written by a Canadian author was really good. There are only a few other book adaptations I would add to that list. If you haven’t read this isolation book about motherhood yet, you need to add it to your list.

sharp objects 1

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Recently made into an HBO mini-series, this story is another dark one from the writer of Gone Girl. This was a psychological thriller and mystery, and it was fabulous! I’ve recommended this story to so many people — it’s so much better than Gone Girl.

When 2 girls are found murdered in her dingy old town, a reporter is sent to investigate. In the process, she digs up some old wounds and resurrects family drama. This is one of the books about mothers that will give you chills.

The Push

The Push by Ashley Audrain

January 2021 GMA Book Club Pick

This is a domestic noir that will scare the pants off most mothers. It’s compulsively readable.

Blythe Conner comes from a long line of bad mothers, but she’s determined not to be one. When she has Violet, she struggles to connect with her.

The reader is left wondering if Blythe is a mother who sees the worst in her child or if there is actually something off with Violet; something that even her husband can’t see. There is a reason this domestic thriller was chosen by GMA, it is a crazy good read and will have you on the edge of your seat.

Warning: the topic is disturbing and may be triggering for some people

Find this book in Books About Mothers and Motherhood / Psychological Thriller Books / Domestic Noir Books

Thrillers

Ultimate List of Thrillers

Love Thrillers? This list is curated and carefully divided by sub-genre. These will definitely keep you on your toes.

Non-Fiction Books About Motherhood

Im glad my mom died

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeannette Mccurdy

Jeanette Mccurdy, star of the show iCarly and Sam and Cat, has written her heartbreaking memoir. Forced into acting at 6 years old by a mentally ill and unstable mother, Jeanette lived her life trying to make her mother happy. The result was an eating disorder, addiction, and abuse. This is a profound pick in our list of books about mental illness.

I listened to this coming-of-age book and found it hard to put down while also finding it extremely difficult to listen to at times because it is such a sad book. This is an amazing pick from our books about mothers.

the glass castle

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls

This is an amazing recount of Jeanette Walls’s upbringing and childhood.  She is a successful journalist and writer living in New York City. 

Her parents also live in New York; however, they choose to be homeless. Jeanette Wells’s upbringing was unconventional and her parents did not offer her a structured childhood. This is a fantastic pick from books about mothers and as non-fiction books go, this one reads like fiction. This pick from thought-provoking books is so readable that I would even recommend it to young teens.

Did we include your favorite books about mothers on our list?

Best Gifts for Mothers

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