“When I got hurt, she felt it so deeply, it was as though it were her own affliction. She was guilty only of caring too much. I realize this now, only in retrospect. No one in this world would ever love me as much as my mother, and she would never let me forget it.”
Michelle Zauner, Crying in H Mart
This selection, shared during Women’s History Month, is about what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a mother. There are many ways to do both and as you will see in this selection there is no way to be a perfect woman or mother. All of these titles have themes of being a woman, being a mother, and being a daughter. These relationships are complex and the identity of these women are complex as well. The women in these books face death, persecution, transphobia, racism, as well as societal and political pressures. These are only a handful of things women and mothers face in our society. Women are judged for having children or not having children, dressing a certain way, loving certain people, and much more. These books are a selection that highlights these issues and describe navigating them as a woman and/or a mother. I hope you enjoy exploring them.
Digital book (DB, DBC, DBG, DBF), braille (BR, BRG), and large print (LT) copies of these titles are available from the Perkins Library or the Worcester Talking Book Library. Please contact the library to order any of these books.
Prepared by Katie Means
by Leo Tolstoy
DB 72059, BR 12695, Available as BARD Download
In 1870s Russia, Anna disregards convention, preferring an adulterous affair with Count Vrónsky to her stifling marriage. Ostracized by society and separated from her beloved son, Anna gradually unravels. Tolstoy’s classic novel in a 2000 translation by the award-winning team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. 1877.
Download Anna Karenina, DB 72059
by Michelle Obama
DB 92627, DB 93194 (Spanish), DBG 18412 (Italian), BR 22497, LT 24957, Available as BARD Download
The first African American First Lady recounts her childhood in Chicago, her years balancing motherhood and her career as an executive, and her eight years in the White House. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2018.
Download Spanish, Becoming, DB 93194
Download Italian, Becoming, DBG 18412
by Toni Morrison
DB 26026, BR 7074, BR 16707, LT 30720, DB available as BARD Download
Related in kaleidoscopic fashion and set in rural Ohio during the period immediately following the Civil War, this chronicle of slavery and its aftermath traces the life of Sethe, a former slave. Sethe has a secret in her past so horrific that it has alienated the community, driven off her two sons, isolated her surviving daughter, and threatened her new, loving relationship with Paul D., also a former slave. Bestseller. 1987.
by Michelle Zauner
DB 103413, BR 24119, LT 32037, Available as BARD Download
The author reflects on her experiences growing up Korean American, struggling with expectations, meeting her husband, and losing her mother to cancer. She also discusses her journey to forge her own identity and claim the taste, language, and history left to her by her mother. Bestseller. 2021.
Download Crying in H Mart, DB 103413
by Torrey Peters
DB 101806, Available as BARD Download
Trans woman Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn’t hate. The only thing missing was a child. But when her girlfriend, Amy, detransitions and becomes Ames, everything falls apart. 2021.
by Anne Frank
DB 40424, DB 57022, DB 68986 (Spanish), DBF 158 (German), DBG 12633 (French), DB 106088 (Mandarin), BR 15076, BR 22588, LT 26169, Available as BARD Download
In a remarkable account begun on her thirteenth birthday in 1942, a Jewish girl in German-occupied Amsterdam records her hopes, fears, and growing pains during two years of close confinement with her family hiding from the Nazis in a secret apartment. Original version edited by her father. For grades 6-9 and older readers. 1947.
Download Diary of A Young Girl, DB 57022
Download Spanish, Diary of A Young Girl, DB 68986
Download German, Diary of A Young Girl, DBF 158
Download French, Diary of A Young Girl, DBG 12633
Download Mandarin, Diary of A Young Girl, DB 106088
by Betty Friedan
DB 53797, Available as BARD Download
1960s feminist discusses problems of American women. Considers a distorted image of femininity to have arrested women’s intellectual growth, hampered their sexual fulfillment, threatened their marriages, and become their major barrier to self-realization. 1963.
by Cokie Roberts
DB 58361, BR 15555, Available as BARD Download
Political commentator and news analyst examines the role of Abigail Adams, Deborah Read Franklin, Martha Washington, and other prominent colonial women in founding the United States. Discusses their work outside the domestic sphere to manage businesses, run plantations, and defend their homes in the absence of men. Bestseller. 2004.
Download Founding Mothers, DB 58361
by Bernardine Evaristo
DB 98756, Available as BARD Download
Twelve characters lead vastly different lives in modern Britain. From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, they all intersect in shared aspects of their identities, from age to race to sexuality to class. Booker Prize. 2019.
by Nora Ephron
DB 63378, BRG 2207, Available as BARD Download
In a series of humorous vignettes, author Nora Ephron obsesses about being a woman in her sixties. Discusses her expensive regimen to camouflage signs of aging, her purse and its contents, parenting, ex-husbands, and former presidents. In “Serial Monogamy: A Memoir,” Ephron admits her infatuation with famous chefs. Bestseller. 2006.
Download I Feel Bad About My Neck, DB 63378
by Mary Laura Philpott
DB 94871, Available as BARD Download
A memoir told through essays examining the conflicting pressures of modern adulthood in the early twenty-first century. Discusses anxiety, personal reinvention, satisfaction, and more. 2019.
by Jamie Ford
DB 109598 (in process), LT 32119
As Washington’s former poet laureate, Dorothy Moy breaks her own heart for a living, the way she describes channeling her dissociative episodes and mental health struggles into her art. But when her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior and begins remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy believes the past has truly come to haunt her. Through an experimental treatment designed to mitigate inherited trauma, Dorothy intimately connects with past generations of women in her family, endeavoring to break the cycle of pain and abandonment, to finally find peace for her daughter, and gain the love that has long been waiting, knowing she may pay the ultimate price. 2022.
by Amy Clipston
DB 94939, BR 22696, LT 17476, Available as BARD Download
Carolyn Lapp longs for a traditional Amish marriage but doesn’t believe she will find a man who will love both her and Ben, the child she had out of wedlock. When Carolyn meets horse breeder Joshua Glick, they have an instant attraction, but Joshua believes Ben is her nephew. 2014.
Download A Mother’s Secret, DB 94939
DB 71038, BR 18590, Available as BARD Download
Illiterate and overweight, sixteen-year-old Claireece Precious Jones is pregnant again by her abusive father. After being suspended from school, Precious finds hope in Ms. Rain’s Pre-GED reading class, where Precious begins keeping a journal. Violence, strong language, and explicit descriptions of sex. BCALA Literary Award. 1996.
by Jessamine Chan
DB 106410, LT 31069, Available as BARD Download
Set in near-future America, the School for Good Mothers is a government-run reform program where bad mothers are retrained using robot children with artificial intelligence. Single-mother Frida Liu is turned in by a neighbor and must spend a year at the newly-created institution to regain custody of her daughter. 2022.
by Grady Hendrix
DB 99550, DB 106223 (Spanish), BR 23373, Available as BARD Download
The one thing Patricia Campbell has to look forward to is her book club of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. When James Harris moves into the neighborhood and joins the club, Patricia senses there is something not right about the man. 2020.
Download The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, DB 99550
Download Spanish, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, DB 106223
Download Braille, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, BR 23373
by Margaret Atwood
DB 96649, DB 98269 (Spanish), BR 22855, LT 26776, Available as BARD Download
Fifteen years after the van door slammed on Offred’s future, three women provide testaments on life in Gilead. Sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale (DB 24695, BR 11911). Bestseller. 2019.
Download The Testaments, DB 96649
Download Spanish, The Testaments, DB 98269
by Brit Bennett
DB 99791, DB 104627 (Spanish), BR 23212, LT 28474, Available as BARD Download
Desiree Vignes and her daughter return home to Louisiana in 1968, fourteen years after Desiree and her identical twin sister Stella ran away. The sisters ended up on different paths, and as Desiree struggles with the racial tensions of her hometown, Stella lives her life passing as white. Violence, strong language, and some descriptions of sex. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. 2020.
Download The Vanishing Half, DB 99791
Download Spanish, The Vanishing Half, DB 104627
by Maxine Hong Kingston
DB 10485, DB 50624, Available as BARD Download
Girlhood recollections of a Chinese American in California, where her parents had settled and operated a laundry. Her mother’s “talk-stories” filled the girl’s head with mythic Chinese figures and traditions as she coped with daily life in America. Some strong language. Nationall Book Critics Circle Award. 1976.
by Joan Didion
DB 61740, BRG 1758, Available as BARD Download
Writer reflects on her emotional response to the unexpected death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, after a visit to their comatose daughter. Discusses the shock of suddenly facing a crisis, the memory of their time together as a family, and the meaning of marriage. National Book Award. Bestseller. 2005.
Download The Year of Magical Thinking, DB 61740