15 Powerful Memoirs By and About Mothers

In anticipation of Mother’s Day, we’ve collected fifteen powerful memoirs by, for, and about moms. This collection of books celebrates the diversity of mothers and all of the heartwarming, challenging, and character-building lessons they teach.

by George Hodgman

George Hodgman’s humorous and moving memoir chronicles his struggles to care for his stubborn, aging mother Betty. Will he move her to assisted living? Will she accept that he is gay? Will they have the courage to say what is in their hearts?

by Richard Russo

Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Richard Russo turns to memoir in this hilarious and bittersweet account of his lifelong bond with his high-strung, spirited mother—and the small town she spent her life trying to escape.

by Scott Simon

When NPR’s Scott Simon began tweeting from his mother’s hospital room in July 2013, he didn’t know that his missives would soon spread well beyond his Twitter followers. These tweets became the foundation of a heart-wrenching memoir about their relationship that is laced with humor and resilience.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant
by Roz Chast

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Chast’s graphic memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.

All Over but the Shoutin’
by Rick Bragg

Rick Bragg grew up dirt poor in northeastern Alabama and was seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, but because of his mother’s dedication and sacrifice, he instead became a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for The New York Times.

The End of Your Life Book Club
by Will Schwalbe

During her treatment for cancer, Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son, Will, spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms together discussing the books they were reading. Once, by chance, they read the same book at the same time—and an informal book club of two was born.

Welcome to My Breakdown
by Benilde Little

Benilde Little is a bestselling novelist and former magazine editor with a strong marriage and handsome family—but the stress of caring for her aging parents sent her into a downward spiral. WELCOME TO MY BREAKDOWN is her candid, intimate journey through—and beyond—clinical depression.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
by Jeanette Winterson

A witty and fierce memoir about a life’s work to find happiness, love, identity, home, and a mother. WHY BE HAPPY WHEN YOU CAN BE NORMAL? is a book full of stories about how a painful past, which Winterson thought she had buried, rose to haunt her later in life when she began searching for her biological mother.

Lies My Mother Never Told Me
by Kaylie Jones

Kaylie Jones tells the poignant story of her relationship with her famous father, author James Jones (FROM HERE TO ETERNITY), and her alcoholic mother, and of her own struggles with the disease. A story of privilege, loss, and self-discovery, this is an unforgettable account of a life defined by literature and alcohol.

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
by Terry Ryan

In this warmhearted memoir, Terry Ryan details how her mother made ends meet to support her ten children in the 1950s and ‘60s. By entering—and winning—countless contests with her clever jingles and poetic essay submissions, she took home cash and prizes from Dial soap, Lipton soup, and much more.

Carrie and Me
by Carol Burnett

This memoir is Carol Burnett’s loving tribute to her relationship with her eldest daughter, Carrie Hamilton, who publicly struggled with drug addiction as a teenager but grew up to live a successful, happy, and sober life.

Her Last Death
by Susanna Sonnenberg

A compulsively readable memoir by a daughter who forged her own identity in the face of a charismatic mother addicted to sex, drugs, and lying.

Are You My Mother?
by Alison Bechdel

From the bestselling author of FUN HOME, Alison Bechdel tells the story of her mother, a voracious reader, music lover, and passionate amateur actor who was unhappily married to a closeted gay man. This brilliantly told graphic memoir is a thrilling tale of seeking answers to why there was an abrupt divide between this mother and daughter.

Chanel Bonfire
by Wendy Lawless

Wendy Lawless recounts her unconventional upbringing with an unstable alcoholic and suicidal mother—a real-life Holly Golightly turned Mommie Dearest—and the uncommon sense of resilience that allowed her to rise above it all.

Angela’s Ashes
by Frank McCourt

ANGELA’S ASHES is Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer Prize–winning memoir about his childhood in the slums of Limerick, Ireland, and his mother, Angela, during the Depression era. Enduring poverty, near-starvation, and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors—Frank lived to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.