7 Books about Mothers by Legendary Authors

Let’s face it – relationships are complicated, and no relationship is more so than that between a person and their mother. Navigating Mother’s Day isn’t always a cakewalk, including for some of these famous authors who wrote about their mothers.

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

Published in 2013 by Random House, Angelou’s seventh and final autobiography (she started with I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings in 1969), Mom & Me & Mom focuses on her fractured relationship with her mother who abandoned her and later came back into her life.

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride

James McBride was one of 12 children born to Ruth McBride Jordan. Born in 1956 in Brooklyn, his father was a black pastor and his mother was the daughter of Jewish-Polish immigrants. This memoir, first published in 1995, was on the New York Times best-seller list for 2 years. McBride tells the story of his mother’s life as well as his own, growing up poor in the Red Hook housing projects with his mother and 11 brothers and sisters.

Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott

Published in 1993, this is an account of the trials Lamott faced having a baby as a single mother at age 35. Lamott’s first novel, Hard Laughter, was published in 1980, followed by Rosie (1983), Joe Jones (1985), and All New People (1989), but Lamott really hit her stride writing when she began publishing non-fiction. Her strong faith and unflinching honesty provide a refreshing take, offering Christian spirituality without harsh judgment. Operating Instructions was followed by Bird-by-Bird, Lamott’s famous book on writing and life.

Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution by Adrienne Rich

Originally published in 1976, this is an investigation of motherhood through personal experiences and historical research by the award-winning American poet and essayist Adrienne Rich.

In the 1950s, Rich found herself in her twenties with several collections of poetry published, but was also the mother of three children and felt torn between her art and her family responsibilities. This collection is an exploration of the pull between love, art, and the confines and expectations of society and culture.

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir was written by Alexie after his mother’s death at 78, and it was first published on June 13, 2017, by Little, Brown, and Company. It is an honest portrayal of the writer as he grappled with grief, and a portrait of his complicated mother is presented in this collection of 78 poems, 78 essays, and family photographs.

This signed, first edition available from McInBooks, IOBA

Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman (2015)

Published in 2015 by Viking, Bettyville is a memoir by George Hodgman, a veteran magazine and book editor. In 2011, Hodgman left his life in Manhattan to return home to Paris, Missouri, a small midwestern town of 1,200 people, to care for his aging mother. Betty, who was 91 at the time, had a quick wit and a sharp tongue, and would not acknowledge that her son is gay. Hodgman, away from the culture that he is used to in New York, stays in Missouri to care for Betty, who has cancer and dementia.

All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg

All Over But the Shoutinis the first memoir written by Pulitzer-prize-winning reporter Rick Bragg. Published by Pantheon Books in 1997, it tells of his growing up dirt-poor in rural Alabama with his strong mother who went 18 years without a new dress and picked cotton in the southern heat to provide for her boys after his father left. Bragg is the quintessential Southern storyteller and has written multiple memoirs about his life. In 2018 he released a food memoir titled The Best Cook in the World, which features 74 classic southern recipes and ‘Tales from my Momma’s Table.’

This first edition available from Henniker Book Farm

1 Comment

  • Hello Biblio People,
    I know nothing about collecting or selling rare books, although, I do have a hardback copy, with dust cover, of Salinger’s, Catcher in the Rye. It is a BookClub edition, published by Littlle, Brown & Company, in Boston. Copyright 1945, 1946, 1951. The book, itself, is in excellent condition, although, the dust cover is worn around the edges, and smudged with some stains.

    How can I know if it is worth something to sell? Can anyone give me some advice? Thank you.

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