Give your mom the gift of a good book.

By Madeline Diamond
May 01, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of BookSparks

If you've been searching for the perfect Mother's Day present, why not give your mom the gift of a good book? These days, reading is the perfect way to escape to a different world, or even time period, without ever leaving your couch. It might be a while before you and your mom can take that bucket list trip you've always dreamed of, but in the meantime, you can at least let a compelling read virtually transport you.

Related: More must-read books

We've rounded up 20 books, from celebrity memoirs to suspenseful novels, about mothers, families, and female friendship, all of which would make the perfect gift for the women in your life. Keep reading for our picks.

1. "You and Me and Us" by Alison Hammer

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Alexis Gold has always been the mother who works too much, leaving it up to her husband Tommy to take care of their daughter CeCe. But all of that changes when Tommy finds out he has terminal cancer. Fulfilling his wish to spend his last summer at their favorite beach, the three pack up for a season that will ultimately change their lives. While the family comes up against plenty of drama at the beach, Alexis finds that this trip is the perfect time to re-connect with her daughter and rebuild her family as best she can before it’s too late.

To buy: target.com, $18

2. "It's Not All Downhill From Here" by Terry McMillan

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Loretha Curry has the life she’s always imagined for herself. Surrounded by friends and family, she’s excited to celebrate her upcoming sixty-eighth birthday. But then Loretha suffers a terrible loss and suddenly, she’s questioning everything about her life and her future. It’s with the help of her loyal friends that Loretha will find healing and figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life. This novel from Terry McMillan is a hopeful and hilarious novel that women of all ages can relate to.

To buy: target.com, $21

3. "Greedy Heart" by A.P. Murray

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Surviving in New York City in 2006 isn’t an easy feat for Delia Mulcahy. Living in a shabby little apartment and facing a mountain of student loan debt, everything changes when she is offered a job at one of Wall Street’s top hedge funds. Now working in a cutthroat world, she’s determined to make a killing. But as she begins to assimilate into her new life, she finds herself in the middle of multiple schemes that could threaten every relationship she’s ever made. "Greedy Heart" is an exciting story of a hardworking woman trying to make a name for herself.

To buy: barnesandnoble.com, $22

4. "All Adults Here" by Emma Straub

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Astrid Strick’s children have all found themselves up against issues in their adult lives. Her youngest son is having a hard time being a good father; her daughter is still living a carefree life despite the fact that she’s pregnant; her eldest son is living life on his own terms. After witnessing a school bus accident in town, Astrid begins to recall memories that she had previously locked away and with these recollections comes a feeling of failure as she begins to blame herself for the state her family is currently in. This new novel by Emma Straub reminds readers that motherhood isn’t always easy.

To buy: target.com, $17

5. "That's Not a Thing" by Jacqueline Friedland

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If the mother in your life loves a good romance novel, she’ll fall head over heels for "That’s Not a Thing." Meredith Altman has done her best to block out her engagement and relationship with Wesley Latner. Now engaged to a new man, she’s stunned when she finds out Wesley owns the restaurant where she and her fiancé are celebrating their engagement. Even more shocking is the realization that Wesley has been diagnosed with ALS. As she begins to spend time with Wesley again, she comes to learn what kind of man her fiancé really is and must decide if he’s the right person for her after all.

To buy: barnesandnoble.com, $17

6. "More Myself: A Journey" by Alicia Keys

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In Alicia Keys’ first memoir, she uncovers what it’s really like to be a woman in the spotlight. Known for her captivating music, Alicia Keys rose to fame as a young woman. But what came along with that fame was intense scrutiny, a lack of privacy and the need to please everyone around her. In "More Myself," Keys looks back at how these things shaped her as a woman and questions the type of person she is today. With excerpts from the people closest to her, this book gives readers a complete look at the life of a Grammy award-winning musician.

To buy: target.com, $21

7. "Feels Like Falling" by Kristy Woodson Harvey

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Gray Howard’s life has just been turned upside down and after getting a woman fired at her local pharmacy, guilt kicks in and she invites the woman, Diana, to stay in her guest house. Together, Gray and Diana will begin to mend their broken lives… until Diana’s first love returns and secrets from her past are brought to light. Kristin Woodson Harvey brings readers the highs and lows of one North Carolina summer in "Feels Like Falling."

To buy: target.com, $13

8. "Big Summer" by Jennifer Weiner

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The #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner returns this May with a new novel your mother will love. Daphne Berg hasn’t spoken to Drue Cavanaugh since their big fight six years ago. But now Drue wants back into Daphne’s life, showing up out of the blue and asking Daphne to be her maid-of-honor — an offer Daphne can’t refuse. Throwing herself back into Drue’s chaotic life, she can’t help but fear that she’ll get caught up in her friend’s glamorous world once again and forget all the progress she’s made in her own life.

To buy: target.com, $17

9. "Of Literature & Lattes" by Katherine Reay

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When Alyssa Harrison left her hometown behind to pursue a career in Silicon Valley, she didn’t plan on returning only three years later. Now broke and under FBI investigation after the company she worked for collapsed, the only thing she can think to do is return to Winsome, Illinois. Meanwhile, Jeremy Mitchell has just moved to Winsome to be closer to his daughter and to open the coffee shop he’s always dreamed of. But when the shop begins to fail, he finds hope in Alyssa. Working together to save the business, the two find a spark between each other that they can’t ignore.

To buy: target.com, $17

10. "Perfect Tunes" by Emily Gould

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Before giving birth to her daughter, Laura dreamed of leading a prosperous music career. After moving to New York, she found some success but soon found herself pregnant. Reeling from a tumultuous relationship, she became a mother and left her dreams behind. Fifteen years later, Laura is now raising her teenage daughter Marie and when she begins to ask questions about her father, Laura reveals information about her past. It’s then that Marie and Laura’s best friend decide that there’s still time for Laura to live her dream and accomplish everything she’s always wanted.

To buy: target.com, $18

11. "Slay Like a Mother: How to Destroy What's Holding You Back so You Can Live the Life You Want" by Katherine Wintsch

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Katherine Wintsch, the founder and CEO of The Mom Complex, knows a thing or two about being a working mother. Raising two children while growing her business, she’s seen it all and knows how easy it can be to get down on yourself when you’re juggling so much. In "Slay Like a Mother," Wintsch breaks down the ways working moms can self-sabotage and offers insightful tips that will help women everywhere lead a more fulfilling and happy life.

To buy: target.com, $12

12. "A Long Petal of the Sea" by Isabel Allende

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If your mother loves a good historical fiction novel, she’ll love Isabel Allende’s "A Long Petal of the Sea." Spain is in the midst of civil war in the 1930s and pregnant widow Roser has come to the conclusion that if she wants to stay alive, she has to leave the country. Marrying her late lover’s brother for survival, the two board a ship to Chile with the hopes that they will one day be able to return to their home country. But starting over in a new country isn’t easy and the unlikely couple will find themselves up against trial after trial.

To buy: target.com, $14

13. "Four Faces of Femininity: Heroic Women Throughout History" by Barbara McNally

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In Barbara McNally’s "Four Faces of Femininity," she tells the story of women who have made a huge impact on the world. From Tina Fey to Malala Yousafzai, this new book is dedicated to celebrating the incredible things women have achieved and separates them into four different categories: Mother, Lover, Warrior, and Sage. In addition to the compelling stories told on every page, this book also includes a guide that will help readers find their innermost strengths and learn how to use them to lead a fuller life.

To buy: target.com, $25

14. "The Book of V." by Anna Solomon

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Anna Solomon’s "The Book of V." recounts the lives of three women and their sacrifices across three centuries. Esther is an extremely independent young woman living in ancient Persia. Her life is changed forever when she makes a mistake that lands her in a lavish palace, forced to serve the King in order to save her people. A 1970’s married woman, Vivian Barr has always tried to be the perfect political wife, hanging on to her husband’s every word. But when he asks her to perform a humiliating favor, she refuses — an act that will upset her entire existence. In 2016, Lily finds herself struggling to get a handle on her sexual and intellectual desires and her obligations to her family and career force her to put her own needs on the back burner.

To buy: target.com, $28

15. "Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey" by Jo Ivester

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In Jo Ivester’s latest book, she tells the coming out story of her transgender son Jeremy and how it affected their family. Giving birth to what they thought was their daughter, it didn’t take long before Jo and her husband noticed that Jeremy enjoyed things that society views as masculine over the things society views as feminine. Through his teen years, his family often wondered about his sexuality as he showed no interest in flirting. But everything became clear when, at 23-years-old, Jeremy began his transition to become a man. In "Once a Girl, Always a Boy," Jeremy’s mother tells his courageous story and documents the special bond she and her family share with her son.

To buy: target.com, $17

16. "Glorious Boy" by Aimee Liu

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Claire and her husband Shep have built a great life for their mute four-year-old son Ty and local girl Nalia, the only person who can communicate with Ty, when they’re told that their home in the remote Andaman Islands is no longer safe. But Claire’s world is thrown into chaos when Nalia and Ty disappear on the morning the family is supposed to evacuate the island. It’ll be up to Claire, Shep, and Nalia to save Ty and get the entire family back to safety when the island falls into the hands of Japanese occupation. "Glorious Boy" tells the thrilling story of one unstoppable mother on a quest to be reunited with her family.

To buy: target.com, $19

17. "Big Wild Love: The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go" by Jill Sherer Murray

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Believing that love just wasn’t in the cards for her, Jill Sherer Murray stayed in a dead-end relationship well into her forties. It wasn’t until she finally let go of her relationship and her fears that she found the courage to pursue finding true love and happiness once again. In "Big Wild Love," Murray inspires others to chase after the love they deserve instead of the love they settle for. Through her own stories, others’ experiences, statistics and helpful exercises, this book takes an in-depth look at what it means to be in love and how freeing it can be to leave expectations behind and just live an honest life.

To buy: target.com, $17

18. "A Good Neighborhood" by Therese Anne Fowler

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Single mother Valerie Alston-Holt enjoys raising her son in her tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood. With her son beginning college in the fall, she feels extremely grateful and accomplished… until a new family moves in next door. When the Whitmans enter Valerie’s life, things quickly begin to change. What starts as a heated disagreement about a historic tree in Valerie’s yard becomes an all-out war when Valerie learns that her son has fallen for the Whitmans’ daughter. One mother will have to defend everything she’s worked for in "A Good Neighborhood."

To buy: target.com, $20

19. "Wow, No Thank You" by Samantha Irby

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In Samantha Irby’s latest New York Times bestseller, she details her most recent move from Chicago and her inability to find a place where she feels like she fits in. Having recently left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, she’s forced to re-evaluate everything about her life and where she’s going next. Through a series of hilarious and raw essays, Irby tells the story of her adult life, her career as an author, the ups and downs of Hollywood, and the unrealistic expectations we see on Instagram — a great selection for moms who wants a little humor in their next read.

To buy: target.com, $14

20. "Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982" by Cho Nam-Joo

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New mother Kim Jiyoung has just left her job to stay home and take care of her newborn — the expectation in South Korea. But things quickly fall apart as Kim begins acting strangely, impersonating women, both known and unknown to her. Frightening her husband and family, she is forced to visit a psychiatrist. It’s through the psychiatrist that she begins to tell her tale and the years of oppression she was forced to endure as a young girl and woman. It’ll be up to her psychiatrist to find a cure for Jiyoung and get her back to living a healthy life.

To buy: target.com, $14

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