We were ready to hang up our Ask the Editors hats, but just couldn't end the fun without answering this one from Karin:
"Having read your Ask the Editors all month and purchasing many of the book recommendations, how about some suggestions for all the moms out there that have also done the same? I noticed most of the inquiries were from women. As a mother of four children (ages 7 - 12), life can get a little stressful, especially around the holidays, when school is out and the temperature drops and everyone is indoors. Reading the newspaper and listening to the news can be a little depressing with what is going on in the world, and the sibling rivalry in the background doesn't help lift one's spirit. Any thoughts on some positive, this is why we do it books? Doesn't necessarily have to be only for moms, but women in general who are strong, caring and make a difference."
Karin, your comment spoke to a lot of us here, and a great antidote to depressing news and stir-crazy kids is a book that has you laughing out loud. With that in mind, here are some of our favorites:
- Hatched by Sloane Tanen--this is one of those books that looks a little kooky, but Tanen has a wicked sense of humor and I laugh every time I open the pages. Ali and I are both fans of David Sedaris--he's totally irreverent and mocks his family without mercy, but you know they must love him all the same. His latest book is Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, though Holidays on Ice is fun for this time of year, and Ali recommends Me Talk Pretty One Day because, "as an outsider, parenting seems a lot like landing in a foreign place and learning a new language, often incorrectly and always by trial and error." That does sound a lot like parenting...
- HY says Just Let Me Lie Downis a riot for the working mom, and I would also say When Did I Get Like This?is a good bet--short funny chapters (perfect for reading between tantrums, food prep, and laundry!) gently remind mothers to relax and enjoy the special moments.
- Miriam suggests the classic I Don't Know How She Does It and The New Yorker Book of Mom Cartoons.
- Juliet would recommend The Happiness Project to any busy mom. "It details one mom's yearlong quest to make her life happier and more fulfilling". This one also got a thumbs up from Ali, "just gave it to my overworked sister-in-law, and she loved it."
- From Tom: "It's about a dad rather than a mom, but if a mom is looking for a slapstick-hilarious story that has its dark moments but with plenty of redemption--or just wants to feel that maybe they don't have it so bad by comparison--The Lonely Polygamist, Brady Udall's novel of a man with four wives and 28 children and plenty of problems, is just the ticket (and my wife enjoyed it just as much as I did)."
- Mari offers this sanity-saver, "for any person (parental or otherwise) who's reached the end of their rope, I recommend Martha Beck's Steering by Starlight. She's Oprah's life coach, and at the risk of sounding to woo-woo, this book has been a bit of a survival bible for me during some very challenging times. Beck is also a mom, and she talks about how she worked through some really intense experiences in being a parent."
We also have some ideas for beautiful reads with strong women characters:
- The Help--definitely strong, inspiring women in this book, and every person I've given it to has loved it. In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver chronicles the year her family spends living only on what they can grow or buy locally with entertaining results, and in Half Broke Horses, plainspoken Lily perseveres and triumphs under remarkable circumstances.
- Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a 2010 favorite around here, and Juliet also recommends Gilead because it is "a beautiful and moving meditation on the love a parent has for a child." Shane seconds the recommendation for Gilead and anything by Marilynne Robinson.