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Moms’ Favorite Books



Over this last year, I’ve become a big reader. People often ask me, a working mom, how I have time to read. I don’t really have time to read… I make time to read. I admit I often choose to read over watching TV, a favorite pastime of mine. I read on the treadmill or while commuting or even while hula hooping. I try to read a few books a month from the various piles of books all over out apartment.* And my favorite way to read is to binge read; my pattern as of late has been to read two or three books in the span of a week or so each month. I don’t always make as much time as I’d like to read, but often make reading a book a reward for writing a certain amount (I’m about 2/3 done with the first draft of my novel: it ain’t pretty, but the important thing is that I’m getting there and I absolutely love writing it).

When I look back on my adult life, I realize that the only reading I really truly ever loved was when it involved my kids. I read to and with my kids until they were in middle school. Our schedules have gotten more erratic and it has unfortunately been easy to put other things before reading together. And even though the last thing they want to do at ages 16 and 13 is to read with their mother, I am glad that I can show them the new found joy I get out of a good book. Sometimes they’ll even indulge me and read what I’m reading. And I’ll take sometimes!

In honor of Mother’s Day, I asked some of my favorite mothers to share two of their favorite books: a fiction book and a book they’ve read to or withtheir kids when they were young. Before I share their picks, here are two of mine:

Fiction: I love so many, but the one that stands out for me because it became part of my heart is I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. It’s outer-worldly and the characters are so beautifully developed. The story is mesmerizing and gorgeously fleshed out and reading it (twice!) made me feel every emotion imaginable. (You can read some of my other recent fiction picks here.)

Kid book: A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein. The book just celebrated its 50th anniversary since publication. I used to read it all the time to my sons when they were little. The rhyming, the rhythm, the story… they’re all magical.

Here are some other moms’ favorite picks:

~Amy Nagler, mother of two

Fiction: I loved The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown because it gave me an idea of what it was like to live in the U.S. during the 1930’s before WWII began.

Kid book: I loved reading Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter to my girls because it gave them some motivation to stop complaining.

~Jenny Starkey, mother of two

Fiction: My favorite recent books include Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple and Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a very sweet story about a non-traditional mom and a daughter who loves her exactly as she is. When Bernadette goes missing after displaying increasingly odd behavior, her daughter delves into her e-mails to learn more about her mom as a person and everything she had been dealing with. It’s a good reminder that we moms don’t have to be perfect, we just have to be there.

I joke a lot to friends that “grown-upping is hard” and Dept. of Speculation takes a sad and sweet look at a marriage from beginning to middle and onward. It shows how children change your relationship for better (and for worse) but it also captures the beauty of a family and why you fight for it.

Kid book: Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney: It’s hard to be a working mom and I deal with guilt from time to time. I love this book because while they don’t specifically say that Llama Mama is off to a job, it shows little Llama at pre-school all day and helped both of my little ones understand that it’s OK to miss being around your mom during the day, but it’s also OK to really enjoy being at school. It also helps me remember the same for myself—that I can miss my kiddos but still enjoy my work.

~Nicky Rubens, mother of three

Fiction: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. This was a great read for me because it was relevant, true and deep but still light and filled with laughter.

Kid book: The Doll People by Ann Martin and Laura Godwin. I have three daughters close in age and this was something I could read that we could all enjoy together, and the trilogy kept it coming.

~Vandana Sheth, mother of two

Fiction: Hard to pick one. Nora Roberts, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Danielle Steele, and Lisa Scottoline are a few of my favorite authors. I like their books because they deal with human emotions, family dynamics, and often with a strong female character.

Kid book: The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I loved reading her books because they transported us to another place and because of the characters, details, and emotions they evoke.

~Karen Portugal-Whiton, mother of two

Fiction: I just read The Boarding House by Sharon Sala. A page turner. Could not believe the twist it took.

Kid book: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. Loved hearing my kids giggle with all the rhyming that goes on in it.

~Leslee Kunzinger, mother of three

Fiction: I really enjoyed the middle grade novel Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I loved how complex the characters were in a very understated way. (EZ note: I read this and really enjoyed it. Reading it made me want to adopt the main character, Willow. Just so damn lovable.)

Kid Book: We recently listened to the audio CD of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane every night before bed. We loved the first person account of this porcelain rabbit’s journey of being cast aside and then of being united with new strangers who cared for him, and his internal “journey” of learning to love.

*Image of books I have yet to read via me.

What are some of your favorite fiction and kid reads? Share them in your comments below. And Happy Mother’s Day! 🙂


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About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized registered dietitian nutritionist, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books and is currently working on her first novel. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook.

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