New books make a great choice for Mother's Day gift

You may not be able to guarantee your mom the peace and quiet to read it, but a book may be just the gift for Mother's Day. • The variety of books is infinite, one size fits all, and they're easy to gift wrap. • But which to choose? You know your own mother best, of course, but here are a few suggestions, most of them new books, that many a mom might like to dive into. Remember, you have one week.

Memoirs of mothers

Gourmet editor and acclaimed food writer Ruth Reichl has already published a trilogy of bestselling memoirs, Comfort Me with Apples, Tender at the Bone and Garlic & Sapphires. In her new book, Not Becoming My Mother: and Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way, she writes of her own rebellious desire to never grow up to be like her mom. When Reichl reads her late mother's diaries, she discovers her mother never wanted to be that woman, either. It's a surprising and moving journey.

Journalist and DJ Jo Maeder had a very different experience when her estranged mother was struck with dementia. In When I Married My Mother: A Daughter's Search for What Really Matters — and How She Found It Caring for Mama Jo, Maeder brings sharp wit and a reporter's investigative skills to her own experience of the growing trend of intergenerational households.

NOT BECOMING MY MOTHER (Penguin, $19.95) When I Married My Mother (Da Capo, $25)

For the literary mom

If your mother never gets enough time to finish a novel but loves literary fiction, a short story collection might be just the thing. It's been out for a little while — long enough to have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in April — but Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge would be a fine choice. The elegantly written "novel in short stories" — 13 of them — revolves around the title character, a strong-minded retired math teacher, and her relationships with her son, husband and others in their small town in Maine.

Don't look for sentimental visions of family life in Dear Husband, the latest short story collection by Joyce Carol Oates. It gathers provocative, darkly insightful stories about mothers and their children, wives and their husbands, grownups and their childhood selves.

OLIVE KITTERIDGE (Random House, $14) DEAR HUSBAND (Ecco, $24.95)

Books for bonding

Daughters and mothers might find these books well worth sharing. In Our Stories, Our Visions, Zoe Sallis has collected interviews with 40 influential women, sorting their comments into thematic chapters. If you've ever wondered what inspires Maya Angelou, what Christiane Amanpour's greatest fear is or which woman Benazir Bhutto most admired, you'll find out here.

An unusual book, but one bound to start conversations, is My Little Red Book. Its author, 18-year-old Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, started interviewing girls and women of all ages and walks of life about their first menstrual periods when she was 13. The result is a book about an experience all women share that is by turns funny, touching and occasionally terrifying.

OUR STORIES, OUR VISIONS (Sterling, $14.95) MY LITTLE RED BOOK (Twelve, $14.99)

Tough mothers

Sometimes motherhood can be heartbreaking. While Susan Galleymore's son was serving in Iraq in the U.S. military, she visited him there. That journey changed her life, leading her to interview mothers in Iraq, Israel, the West Bank, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria and the United States about the impact of war on families and communities. Those stories make up Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak About War and Terror.

LONG TIME PASSING (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95)

Romance and mystery

If your mother devours romance novels, she might find hilarious entertainment in Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels, by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan. The authors, who blog at www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com, obviously adore romance novels, which are read by 1 in 5 Americans and rack up sales of $1.37 billion annually. But they also have a no-holds-barred sense of humor about them; here's just one chapter title: "Secret Cowboy Baby: Cringe-Worthy Plot Devices We Know and Love."

Or, if your mom is a fan of the cozy mystery, those charming books in which crimes occur but quirky character is the main thing, there's a fresh one on the shelves from one of the best writers in the business. Alexander McCall Smith's irresistible Mma Precious Ramotswe makes her 10th appearance in Tea Time for the Traditionally Built. Mom will feel calmer just reading the title.

BEYOND HEAVING BOSOMS (Fireside, $15) TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT (Pantheon, $23.95)

Colette Bancroft can be reached at cbancroft@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8435. She blogs at blogs.tampabay.com/arts.

New books make a great choice for Mother's Day gift 04/29/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 10:59am]

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