20 books to get your mom on Mother's Day
Books make great gifts. From history to fantasy and everything in between, here are some suggestions for your mom on Mother's Day.
If your mother likes mother/daughter stories, try My Mother's Daughter by Perdita Felicien
Perdita Felicien's mom Catherine was a poor young woman in St. Lucia when she was given a seemingly random, but ultimately life-changing, opportunity: to come to Canada with a wealthy white family and become their nanny. But when she gets to Canada, life is tougher than she expected, as she endures poverty, domestic violence and even homelessness. However, she still encouraged and supported her youngest daughter's athletic dreams. Felicien would go on to be a world-class hurdler and one of Canada's greatest track athletes. My Mother's Daughter is the story of these two women, and how their love for each other got them through difficult times and changed their lives.
Felicien was a 10-time national champion, a two-time Olympian and became the first Canadian woman to win a gold medal at a world championships. She now works as a sports broadcaster and is part of CBC's team covering the Olympics. My Mother's Daughter is her first book.
If your mother admires strong women, try Women of the Pandemic by Lauren McKeon
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a story of women. It's a story of women leaders, in political office, medical fields and in public health. But it's also a story of how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women: taking them out of the workforce, putting them in charge of virtual or homeschooling and making them the primary providers of childcare and elder care. Women of the Pandemic is the portrait of several women during the early months of the pandemic and how their resilience, perseverance and creativity can serve as inspiration for future challenges.
If your mother enjoys a triumph of the human spirit story, try Crossroads by Kaleb Dahlgren
On April 6, 2018, the news of a bus crash sent shock waves through Canada and around the world. The Humboldt Broncos, a junior hockey team, were travelling to an away game when a semi-truck missed a stop sign and the bus carrying the team crashed right into it. Sixteen people on board the bus were killed. Kaleb Dahlgren, the assistant captain of the team at the time, was one of the crash's 13 survivors. He shared his story of recovery, and eventually went on to study — and play hockey again — at York University. It's been three years since the crash and Dahlgren is now sharing his story in a memoir, Crossroads.
Dahlgren is a student at York University, where he plays on the varsity hockey team. Crossroads is his first book.
If your mother appreciates solitude, try In Praise of Retreat by Kirsteen MacLeod
In Praise of Retreat is an exploration and celebration of solitude, of disconnection, of finding quiet — of retreats and retreating. Yoga teacher and writer Kirsteen MacLeod looks at the history of retreats and explores how the practice of retreat can enhance contemporary life.
MacLeod is a writer and yoga teacher from Ontario. She is also the author of the short story collection The Animal Game. She was a former finalist for the CBC Nonfiction Prize.
If your mother loves outdoor adventures, try This One Wild Life by Angie Abdou
This One Wild Life is the story of a mother and daughter bonding over hiking. When Angie Abdou sees her daughter becoming more introverted, she decides to give both of them a challenge one summer: to hike a different peak near their Fernie, B.C., home each week. This One Wild Life is the story of this summer, and how this goal changed their relationship and helped her daughter become more confident and more comfortable with who she is.
Abdou is a teacher, writer and frequent columnist for The Next Chapter. Her first novel, The Bone Cage, was championed by Georges Laraque on Canada Reads 2011. Her other books include the novels The Canterbury Trail, Between and In Case I Go and the nonfiction book Home Ice.
If your mother likes to laugh, try Indians on Vacation by Thomas King
Indians on Vacation is about a couple named Bird and Mimi. They decide to travel through Europe after discovering postcards from Mimi's long-lost Uncle Leroy. Leroy had sent them while on his own European adventure almost 100 years ago.
Indians on Vacation is currently on the shortlist for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour and the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. It was shortlisted for the 2020 Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Thomas King is a Canadian-American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry. His books include Truth & Bright Water, The Inconvenient Indian, Green Grass, Running Water and The Back of the Turtle. He also writes the DreadfulWater mystery series.
If your mother loves romance, try Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
Hana Khan Carries On is a romantic comedy from Uzma Jalaluddin. In Hana Khan Carries On, Hana is an aspiring radio host who is working at her family's halal restaurant. When her aunt and a cousin come to town, and a rival restaurant opens in their neighbourhood, Hana's life is upended and family secrets are revealed. Fighting for her family is a big battle, one that will put all of Hana's skills to the test. It's a battle that gets more complicated by Hana's growing attraction to the rival restaurant's attractive owner, Aydin.
Jalaluddin is a teacher, parenting columnist and author based in Ontario. She is also the author of the novel Ayesha At Last.
If your mother enjoys poetry, try home body by Rupi Kaur
home body is the third collection from bestselling poet Rupi Kaur. home body, which also features illustrations by Kaur, explores the concept of self and reflects on home, mental health, love and acceptance.
Kaur is a poet and artist from Brampton, Ont. She currently has more than 4 million Instagram followers. At the beginning of 2020, she was named the writer of the decade by U.S. publication The New Republic. Her other poetry collections are milk and honey and the sun and her flowers, which both made the New York Times bestseller list.
If your mother is into thrillers, try The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Newfound freedom, insecurity, sexual competition — these are the elements Laurie Elizabeth Flynn mixes together in her psychological thriller, The Girls Are All So Nice Here. The book is about two former best friends, Ambrosia and Sloane, who return to their college reunion to learn that they have been targeted by someone who wants revenge for what they did 10 years before.
- Laurie Elizabeth Flynn's suspense novel The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a tale of toxic friendship
Flynn is a novelist based in London, Ont. She is also the author of the YA novels Firsts, All Eyes on Her and Last Girl Lied To.
If your mother is a history buff, try The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell
The Bomber Mafia is an exploration of the relationship between technology and ideology and how they come together during times of war. Malcolm Gladwell uses a range of anecdotes and stories to examine how societal structures shape human behaviour, decision-making and the spread of ideas. The Bomber Mafia looks at the deadliest night during the Second World War, and how it was caused by the collision of different approaches and beliefs about air bombing. The book builds on themes that Gladwell explored in a 2020 episode of his podcast, Revisionist History.
Gladwell is a bestselling author, journalist and staff writer at the New Yorker. His books include The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw and David and Goliath. His previous book, Talking to Strangers, was one of the top 10 bestselling Canadian books of 2019.
If your mother likes historical fiction, try Letters Across the Sea by Genevieve Graham
Letters Across the Sea is the story of a Protestant girl and her Jewish neighbour in Toronto, against the backdrop of the Depression. Their lives are forever changed living through the rise of Adolf Hitler, the Nazis and a wave of hate that would ignite the Second World War.
If your mother likes Bridgerton, try The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk
In The Midnight Bargain, Beatrice is about to make her debut at "bargaining season" — an annual event where wealthy young men and women gather from all over the world to make advantageous marriages. But she harbours secret plans that will upend society. Rather than get married, Beatrice plans to bind a greater spirit and become a full magician. Performing the secret ritual goes against the rules of her world, which prohibits women from practicing magic while they can still bear children. With the help of the wealthy Lavan siblings, fiery Ysbeta and her handsome brother Ianthe, Beatrice searches for a way to change old patriarchal traditions.
- C.L. Polk's fantasy novel The Midnight Bargain is about feminism, identity, capitalism, magic & adventure
C.L. Polk concocts a page-turning fantasy with love, magic and rebellion swirling at the centre. The Calgary writer's previous books include the award-winning novel Witchmark and its sequel Stormsong.
If your mother is always losing things, try The Finder by Will Ferguson
The Finder is an adventure novel about finding things that are lost in the world. The story takes readers to Japan, Australia and New Zealand as Interpol agent Gaddy Rhodes, photographer Tamsin Greene and travel writer Thomas Rafferty unexpectedly cross paths as they track "The Finder" — a mysterious figure who believes they can find history's lost objects, such as the missing Romanov Fabergé eggs and Muhammad Ali's Olympic gold medal
Will Ferguson has written humour, travel books and fiction. He won the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his thriller 419. He has won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour three times: for his novel Generica (now titled Happiness), his Canadian travel book Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw and his travel memoir Beyond Belfast. He currently lives in Calgary.
If your mother likes being in nature, try Two Trees Make a Forest by Jessica J. Lee
Two Trees Make a Forest is a nonfiction book that explores how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories. A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she traces his story while growing closer to the land he knew. Throughout her adventures, Lee uncovers surprising parallels between nature and human stories that shaped her family and their beloved island. In the memoir, she also turns a critical eye on colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, and both relied on and often erased the labour and knowledge of local communities.
- In Taiwan's lush landscape, Jessica J. Lee found a deeper understanding of her family's turbulent history
Lee is a British Canadian Taiwanese author and environmental historian. She won the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Author Award in 2019. Her first book, Turning, was longlisted for the Frank Hegyi Award for Emerging Authors. Lee has a PhD in environmental history and aesthetics, and currently lives in London.
If your mother likes superheroes, try Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots
Hench is the story of a woman who pays the bills by doing administrative work for villains. But then an incident involving the world's most popular superhero leaves her injured and gets her fired. She ends up realizing what happened to her isn't unique — and she might have the means to take down the so-called hero who hurt her. How? With every office workers's secret weapon: data.
Natalie Zina Walschots is a writer and journalist from Toronto. She is also the author of the poetry collections DOOM: Love Poems for Supervillains and Thumbscrews.
If your mother likes Jane Austen, try The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
The Jane Austen Society is a novel about an unexpected community, and the quiet triumph and tragedies of everyday life in post-Second World War Britain. In Chawton, an English village that was the last home of iconic novelist Jane Austen, a small group of locals decide to do what they can to preserve Austen's home and legacy, and hopefully revitalize the town in the process. The group comes together in surprising ways and, despite being very different, unite through their common goal.
Natalie Jenner is a novelist based in Oakville, Ont. The Jane Austen Society is her first book.
If your mother cares about the environment, try Not on My Watch by Alexandra Morton
Alexandra Morton is a biologist and activist with a mission: to save British Columbia's wild salmon. She's been dedicated to this cause for 30 years. Not on My Watch chronicles this long fight, but also provides a roadmap for those who want to take up the cause and protect other natural habitats themselves.
Morton is a biologist and activist known for her research on ocean-based salmon farming. She has authored more than 20 scientific papers on the impact of salmon farming. Not on My Watch is her first book.
If your mother likes powerful stories about family, try Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi
Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel about twin sisters, Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi believes she was a spirit who was supposed to die as a small child. By staying alive, she is cursing her family — a fear that appears to come true when Kehinde experiences something that tears the family apart, and divides the twins for years. But when the three women connect years later, they must confront their past and find forgiveness.
Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer, filmmaker and visual artist. Her writing has appeared in the Malahat Review, Guts and Brittle Paper, and she was longlisted for the 2019 Journey Prize. Butter Honey Pig Bread is her first book.
If your moms wants her spirits lifted, try Love After the End, edited by Joshua Whitehead
Love after the End is an anthology of speculative fiction that imagines a utopian future for LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people, curated and edited by poet and novelist Joshua Whitehead.
Contributors include Nathan Adler, Darcie Little Badger, Gabriel Castilloux Calderon, Adam Garnet Jones, Mari Kurisato, Kai Minosh Pyle, David Alexander Robertson, jaye simpson and Nazbah Tom.
Whitehead is an Oji-nêhiyaw, two-spirit writer, poet and Indigiqueer scholar from Peguis First Nation. His book, full-metal indigiqueer, is a collection of experimental poems that aim to provoke discussion and debate. Jonny Appleseed, his debut novel, is about a two-spirit person trying to put his life back together following the death of his stepfather.
If your mom is creative, try The Age of Creativity by Emily Urquhart
Emily Urquhart is the daughter of writer Jane Urquhart and artist Tony Urquhart. When the family was celebrating her father's 80th birthday, Emily was struck by how her father has continued his daily artistic practice into his old age, and was even trying new forms and styles. The Age of Creativity is Urquhart's exploration into later-in-life creativity, blending the story of her father with research and the stories of other seniors finding new and dynamic creative outlets later in life.
Urquhart is a writer and folklorist currently living in Kitchener, Ont. She is also the author of the memoir Beyond the Pale.