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Great Books for Mother's Day Gifts
Two more shopping days until Mother's Day. Do NOT panic, the Book Jam is coming to your rescue. We have some great books to give as gifts; and we suggest that the second part of the gift is some uninterrupted time for the recipients to read them. (If you are truly last, last minute, all links to the books we recommend include an e-reader edition.)
Motherhood by Shelia Heti (2019 paperback)-
Canadian author Sheila Heti is all at once a philosopher, a poet, a radical self-inquisitor, and a cultural explorer. Her introspective writing style pulls readers into her active mind, taking them on an intellectual and emotional journey to deeply examine every facet of an issue alongside her, which in this case is the loaded subject of motherhood. To be or not to be? The nameless narrator in this, her second autobiographical novel, is a woman in her late 30's. She has found a supportive mate named Miles and we meet her as she is struggling to decide whether being a mother is right for her. Reading this book is like being on a reproductive roller coaster ride strapped into the unsteady seat next to Heti: her momentary leanings, ambivalence, and vertigo induced by the idea of parenting shifting from one page to the next. Reading this, I felt torn and simultaneously exposed, pushed to re-examine with a fresh lens my own (good for me) choice to have children (twenty plus years ago), my own ongoing confusion about this role and society's expectations, my complacency being on the other side of this decision making, and my assumptions about the younger women around me. To say that Heti is a talented writer would be like saying like Georgia O'Keeffe was a talented artist. There is a quality to her genius that allows her, like O'Keeffe, to gracefully explore internal as well as external landscapes, raw femininity, gender, power, and the many colors of emotion. The question Heti poses in this work is not new, and is, in fact, more important than her ultimate answer to it, which consistently eludes her. As she reflects, "Whether I want kids is a secret I keep from myself - it is the greatest secret I keep from myself." This book is recommended for all of us surrounded by people making reproductive decisions, for those pondering the magnitude of motherhood, or simply for those with mothers and sisters on Mother's Day- and on every day of the year. A New York Times Notable Book of 2018. ~Lisa Cadow
Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis (2019) - As a woman raised in the South (Tennessee) who has now lived in New England for almost 24 years, this memoir of an Alabama belle placed/misplaced? in New York City for many years, leapt out at me from The Norwich Bookstore's shelves. The need to read it was enhanced by a glowing review from our favorite children's librarian, Ms. Beth. (Ms. Minshall - your title is coordinator so we feel OK calling Ms. Beth our favorite children's librarian.) Anyway, back to our review. Ms. Ellis insights into life as a New Yorker, wife, writer, and well, person will have you smiling throughout each of the compact essays contained in this book. You will gain insight into how to say something not-so-nice in a nice way when you can't think of anything nice to say. You will learn the art of a proper thank you note. You will receive festive hosting tips. While I did not bend over laughing as some other reviews of this book promised, my theory is that my status as a misplaced southerner myself means many of Ms. Ellis's predicaments lacked the element of surprise laughing-out-loud sometimes requires. Besides, my more subdued reaction to these essays in no way diminishes the fun readers will have with this book. It feels as if very few things of late are truly meant to just be enjoyed; I claim this book is one of them. As an NPR review stated "Ellis is fun - like the Nutter Butter snowmen she serves at her retro holiday parties". So, gift this collection to your favorite moms and then "sit a spell" with it yourself. ~ Lisa Christie
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