15 Powerful Memoirs By and About Mothers

May 3 2016
Share 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.

Bettyville
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?

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Bettyville
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?

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

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Elsewhere
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.

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Elsewhere
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.

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Close
Unforgettable
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.

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Unforgettable
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.

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Close
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.

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Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant
Roz Chast

In her first memoir, beloved New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast addresses what it’s like being the only child of aging parents—and coping the best she can. Filled with her signature wit, this National Book Award Winner showcases the full range of Chast’s talent as a cartoonist and storyteller.

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Close
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.

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All Over but the Shoutin'
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.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

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By Alice Martin | September 13, 2021

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Close
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.

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The End of Your Life Book Club
Will Schwalbe

Will Schwalbe’s frank and moving memoir documents how he and his mother formed an informal book club of two while she underwent treatment for cancer. It is a testament to the closeness between mother and son, and a loving tribute to the joy and comfort found in a good book.

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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.

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Welcome to My Breakdown
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.

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MENTIONED IN:

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Close
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.

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Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
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.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

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Close
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.

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Lies My Mother Never Told Me
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.

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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.

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The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
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.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo

MENTIONED IN:

My 8 Favorite Audiobook Listens of 2021 (So Far)

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My Book Haul: 9 Shiny New Additions to My Shelf

By Sharon Van Meter | September 16, 2021

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By Off the Shelf Staff | September 15, 2021

8 Stirring Historical Reads for Fans of The Alice Network

By Karen Bellovich | September 14, 2021

New in Paperback: 9 September Releases We Need ASAP

By Alice Martin | September 13, 2021

Book Club Favorites: 6 True Stories Primed for Meaningful Discussions

By Holly Claytor | September 10, 2021

Close
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.

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Carrie and Me
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.

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MENTIONED IN:

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Close
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.

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Her Last Death
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.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo

MENTIONED IN:

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Close
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.

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Are You My Mother?
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.

Amazon logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

My 8 Favorite Audiobook Listens of 2021 (So Far)

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Close
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.

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Chanel Bonfire
Wendy Lawless

In her stunning memoir, Wendy Lawless tells the often heartbreaking tale of 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.

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MENTIONED IN:

My 8 Favorite Audiobook Listens of 2021 (So Far)

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By Off the Shelf Staff | September 15, 2021

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New in Paperback: 9 September Releases We Need ASAP

By Alice Martin | September 13, 2021

Book Club Favorites: 6 True Stories Primed for Meaningful Discussions

By Holly Claytor | September 10, 2021

Close
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.

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Angela's Ashes
Frank McCourt

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy -- exasperating, irresponsible and beguiling-- does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father's tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies. Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors--yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness. Angela's Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.

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MENTIONED IN:

My 8 Favorite Audiobook Listens of 2021 (So Far)

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By Alice Martin | September 13, 2021

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