Happy Mother’s Day everyone!
While my mom didn’t single-handedly create my love of reading, she definitely nurtured it and helped it grow. My mom kept up-to-date on children’s books that were well-regarded, like Newbery award winners, but never forced me to read a particular type of book. My childhood was a combination of children’s classics, like The Borrowers, Dr. Doolittle, and Pippi Longstocking, fantasy series like the Prydain Chronicles and the Narnia Chronicles, and series books, including The Boxcar Children, Saddle Club, and Babysitter’s Club.
(Mom and I holding A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder‘s Tony Award for Best Musical)
My mom is the most important person in my life. She’s kind, she is always there to listen when I’m having a bad day or need help, and she’s a lot of fun to be around. We’ve traveled together to New York, taking in the sights by day and seeing some truly fabulous Broadway shows by night, we discuss television shows (Black Sails! The 100!) that we both love, and, of course, we read, often lending books to one another. So in honour of Mother’s Day and how incredibly lucky I am to have such a wonderful mom, here’s a list of the top 10 books my mom and I both loved.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
This is perhaps an obvious choice, but Harry Potter has to be on this list because it spanned the period from childhood to adulthood for me and encapsulates how the way we read changes. My mom was always on top of what was new and noteworthy in children’s literature so we started reading Harry Potter before the movies came out and before it had become the phenomenon that it is today. The first few books she read aloud, with my younger brother and I listening beside her on the couch. When new books were published in the series, my mom pre-ordered a copy that her and I took turns reading on our own, moving our bookmarks and being careful not to lose our family member’s place. For the final book, we attended a midnight release party at the bookstore and brought the last Harry Potter book home with us. Although I’m grown and have my own apartment, so our current form of book sharing usually involves one of us reading the book then lending it to the other, this is how it all started; One book, two bookmarks.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Name of the Wind was recommended to me by a few co-workers at Chapters, a bookstore chain in Canada. I loved the book and passed it on to my mom, who also loved it. Although we weren’t as impressed with the second volume in the series, we’re both eagerly awaiting a publication date for the final book in the trilogy. I had the opportunity to attend a Patrick Rothfuss reading and signing about five years ago where he spoke about a fantasy novella he was working on about a mother who goes off to have adventures after her kids are grown. He pointed out that the only times moms get to be badass or the hero is when their kids are in danger, perhaps their husband, and I thought it was really interesting that he was writing about an adventurous mother who was adventuring just for her. Sadly I don’t know what ever became of the novella, if he finished and published it or not, but I’d love to read more about moms having adventures without their kids!
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Scorpio Races is one of my favourite books, and it was recommended to me by my mom. As a girl I went through a prolonged horse phase that included three Halloweens of handmade (by my talented mom) horse-related costumes (jockey, cowgirl, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer). I even took riding lessons for a few years, although I didn’t have enough interest to continue. My mom rode into her twenties though and has an enduring love for horses as well. I don’t know if this book has the same appeal for people who don’t love horses, but for those who do it is a must-read about the friendships between horses and riders, and with a supernatural element in the wild water horses.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus grabbed my mom right away. I was in grad school and didn’t have time to read for pleasure, but she told me to put it on my tbr for when I finished, calling it the best book she had read in awhile. As usual, my mom was right. The Night Circus is enchanting with its vivid descriptions of the circus tents standing out as particularly unique and memorable. It’s not a perfect book and the romance is a little overdone, but we both adored The Night Circus.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
One of my cousins gifted The Fault in Our Stars, John Green’s tragic YA novel about Hazel, a girl with terminal cancer, and the boy she falls in love with, to my mother for Christmas. Mom loved the book, recommended it to me, and we discussed how although the subject matter is depressing, the writing style and the humour throughout keeps it from feeling overly dark. I don’t think either of us expected to enjoy the book as much as we ultimately did.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
When trying to come up with a book gift for an individual we didn’t know very well, Station Eleven was on both of our short lists. I think this is one my mom read first and recommended to me, but both of us loved this tale of hope after a pandemic wipes out most of the world’s population. Melding the past before the disease broke out, the days directly following disease, and fifteen years in the future as a travelling symphony travels a circuit through the wasteland that remains performing music and Shakespeare for the survivors, this book is beautifully written, thoughtful, and uplifting.
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Recommended to me by a friend, it was one of those books I loved so much that I
forced it upon ended up lending it to my mom, who also loved it! This fantasy novel tells the story of a half-goblin son of the emperor who has grown up in an isolated exile, but when his father and the others in line for the throne are all killed in an “accident”, the naive, but earnest Maia takes his place as the surviving rightful heir. The world-building is fabulous and the court intrigue well-written, but what really struck me was how refreshing it is, in this world of anti-heroes and dark protagonist, to have a main character who is just so *nice*. Maia’s efforts to do the right thing by everyone when he doesn’t always know what all of the rules or customs of society are, is really endearing and you root for him.
The Swan Riders by Erin Bow
I loved the first book in this YA dystopian duology, but The Swan Riders improved upon it, providing more of my favourite character, Talis, the snarky overseer AI. Some of the dialogue is laugh out loud funny, and the overall theme of what it is that makes us human and why it’s important is poignant. Since this was a quick read, I borrowed it from my local library and had time to lend it to my mom before it had to be returned, and we both really enjoyed it!
The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab
This series is such a great read. I love the relationships between characters, especially serious loyal Kell, and impulsive dangerous Lila, the imaginative settings of Red London and White London, and the way Schwab builds up an antagonist (Holland) and makes us feel pity for him. The pacing is excellent. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and I loved how the stakes are raised with each book in the trilogy. My mom’s review of the final book in the series, A Conjuring of Light, was “WOW. That is all.” I totally agree.
Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
The Six of Crows series is one that I recommend to absolutely everyone, and I think my mom had a similar reaction to it. Bardugo’s characters are flawed and real and so damn likable. The worldbuilding is gritty, the dialogue is clever, and the plot is full of twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat. I have rarely been so sorry to leave a cast of characters behind, but I loved the way it all wrapped up.
Wishing everyone a great day of reading and I hope all mothers out there have a fabulous Mother’s Day!