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  • Heidi Fiedler 3:40 pm on 2017/04/10 Permalink
    Tags: , family book club, , ,   

    33 Books to Read with Your Mother 

    Whether your mom is just upstairs or thousands of miles away, reading a book together is a wonderful way to connect. You can introduce her to your favorite characters, learn something new, or just escape into a dreamy world of happy endings. The books on this list are sure to make you feel closer and more connected. Pick up two copies, one for you and one for her, and enjoy!

    My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
    Reading this phenomenal series is a highbrow but thoroughly enjoyable way to celebrate friendship between women, whether those women are neighbors, sisters, or mothers. (You can also trade notes on what pen name you would use if you were to become an international bestselling author.)

    Bad Girls Throughout History, by Ann Shen
    What if mothers and daughters traded biographical tidbits about accomplished women the way sports fans trade stats? This collection of 100 profiles of revolutionary women includes pirates, scientists, spies, and other ladies who ditch ideas of “ladylike” and are sure to inspire you and your mother to live boldly and have some fabulously naughty conversations.

    Just Between Us, by Meredith and Sofie Jacobs
    Girl’s Life Magazine says this is the perfect gift for Mother’s Day, and we agree. The prompts in this shared journal will help you get to know everything from your mom’s guilty pleasure to her favorite thing about you. And if you don’t tear up writing about your favorite memory of your mom, you’re probably doing it wrong.

    Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist
    When Brené Brown says read a book, you read the book. This collection of essays is all about slowing down, simplifying, stepping away from worry, and doing what matters—like spending time with your mom. If you’re craving a deeper relationship with your mother or simply looking to feel more present, this book will stay with you for years to come.

    The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
    If you want to start your own private book club à deux, this World War II novel about two sisters is a lovely place to start. With strong themes of loyalty, courage, and family, this tearjerker will leave you wanting nothing more than to give your mom a big hug, open a bottle of wine, and talk about this story.

    Other Minds, by Peter Godfrey-Smith
    If your relationship with your mom is less a meeting of the minds and more a battle against misunderstanding, contemplating the vast differences between humans and animals may help put it all in perspective. Written by a philosopher, this book examines how cephalopods think. Discussing animals that are highly intelligent but as alien as can be here on Earth, this book shines a light on the consciousness we share with other creatures—including our own mothers.

    The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
    See life through the eyes of a young girl who’s figuring out what it means to be a Latina woman in America, and join the many readers who have fallen in love with this book, including Maxine Hong Kingston and Julia Alvarez. For maximum enjoyment, we recommend reading this classic coming of age story with your mama over some mango with a little chili powder, lemon, and salt.

    White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
    If you can’t travel around the world with your mom, people watching together and listening to her commentary, this novel is the next best thing. Set in London, it follows a Muslim family and a Jamaican family as their stories intersect with vibrantly detailed characters and the full force of history.

    Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born, by Tina Cassidy
    This book looks at the natural birth process from a cultural perspective and encourages readers to move away from false assumptions about how “it’s always been this way,” to how and why women give birth in so many different ways around the world and throughout history. This fascinating read is sure to inspire questions about your own birth, and moving answers.

    The Magnolia Story, by Chip and Joanna Gaines
    For those who love nothing more than to binge Fixer Upper with their moms, reading this memoir from the stars of the dreamy TV show is a total pleasure. Daydream about being friends with Joanna, learn how the Gaines’ couple got engaged, and laugh at Chip’s many schemes (that are actually pretty brilliant). Then debrief with your mom when you’re in between seasons of your favorite home reno show.

    Women in Science, by Rachel Ignotofsky
    Geek out over 50 women who have made the world a better place through science, technology, engineering, and math. Illustrated biographies and infographics are filled with fun facts you’ll want to swap with each other. Both you and mom are sure to finish this book feeling inspired. And bonus, you can send each other book reports via the matching postcards—or just say I love you from afar.

    Notorious RBG, by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
    Take a deep dive on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with this biography that’s one part history book, one part annotated legal brief, and one part irreverent visual ode to this feminist pioneer. With interviews from friends, family, colleagues, and the Justice herself, this book will prompt your mom to tell stories about the way things used to be, and you’ll be in awe of all that has changed. The perfect book to read when you’re both worried about how much further we have to go.

    The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
    This classic novel is told from the perspective of Chinese mothers and daughters. Readers experience the way their stories echo, overlap, and diverge through the generations. Filled with complex characters and poetic language, this is a book you’ll be talking about together for many years to come.

    Hidden Figures, by Margo Lee Shetterly
    Whether you watched the movie or not, you’ll want to share this book with your mom. It tells the true story of the African American women who worked at NASA in the ’50s and ’60s and played an integral role in making the space program successful. It’s a painful history to read, but sure to leave you feeling proud to be a woman.

    The Whole 30, by Melissa Hartwig
    Whether you’re trying to lose weight, investigating allergies, or just trying to have more energy, if you’re doing your first Whole 30, you’ll want to grab a buddy. Read the book with your mom, and soon you’ll be bonding over almond flour and grass-fed buffalo jerky. There’s nothing sweeter than finishing a Whole 30, having a cocktail, and toasting your accomplishment with your favorite person in the whole world.

    Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
    Grab this book to prepare yourself, so you can swoop in if Tina Fey ever stops being Amy Poehler’s BFF—or just look for ways you can make your relationship with your mom funnier, sassier, and more positive. This collection of essays, poems, mantras, photographs, and lists tackles everything from plastic surgery to viewing your career as a nasty boyfriend. Smart advice from Amy Poehler? Yes, please!

    Caraval, by Stephanie Garber
    If you just want a flat-out juicy read, this novel about a fantastical performance that only happens once a year delivers. Love, betrayal, and magic all play a role in weaving a spell that leaves readers eager to share the experience with besties, book clubs, and moms who are ready to debate the meaning of the tagline “Remember, it’s only a game.”

    Rad American Women A-Z, by Kate Schatz
    Get inspired with this children’s book that includes short biographies and bright graphic illustrations. Patti Smith, Rachel Carson, first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation Willa Mankiller, and more are all introduced in A to Z fashion. Compare notes with your mom when you reach X “is for the women whose names we don’t know.” There’s sure to be a woman you want to add to this list.

    I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai
    Travel around the world, experience life under the Taliban, and learn what it means to live in a culture that believes girls shouldn’t go to school. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai encourages readers to stand up in big and small ways for women everywhere, and her memoir is sure to leave you and your mother inspired to work together to help women around the world.

    Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    This classic historical novel is as much about the powerful bond between mothers and daughters as it is about slavery. An unforgettable read, this moving story will have you and your mom crying, hugging, and asking deep questions about what it means to truly be free.

    Talking as Fast as I Can, by Lauren Graham
    Until there’s a new Gilmore Girls season (maybe…hopefully…there’s gotta be!), you can share your love of all things Gilmore with Lauren Graham’s collection of essays. Written in the same smart, funny voice we love to watch on TV, Graham tells stories about living on a houseboat, dating in Hollywood, and developing the craft that has made so many mothers and daughters fall in love with her character.

    Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
    An idiosyncratic relationship between a precocious teenager and a childlike mother lies at the center of this hilarious and wise novel. Told through emails, letters, bills, FBI reports, and more, it will have readers examining their own relationships with tenderness and affection.

    Bringing Up Bébé, by Pamela Druckerman
    Debate whether the French have it all figured out, or if they know more about croissants than childcare, as you read this modern guide to parenting. Ask your mom when you started sleeping through the night, share a laugh over the curse words French children are allowed to say, and reassure your maman that you love her despite her provincial American parenting ways.

    Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
    Cheryl Strayed’s deep grief following her mother’s death is one of the tragedies that leads her to hike the grueling Pacific Crest Trail. But her mother’s love and wisdom also gives Strayed strength as she journeys away from addiction and a broken marriage, toward self-awareness and hope. This memoir is sure to leave you treasuring your own mother.

    Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
    Keep your mother-daughter book club going strong with this Oprah-endorsed bestseller. Elizabeth Gilbert is a joy to read, and this memoir about her time recovering from heartache and depression in Italy, India, and Indonesia transformed the lives of readers around the world. If you’re hoping to book a trip with your mom anytime soon, this is the perfect book to get you both inspired.

    Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child
    Start your own Julia and Julia project by working your way through over 500 recipes with your (hopefully patient) mom. Gasp as your soufflé falls, admire Julia’s clear instructions, and toast your own success whenever your results are edible. By the end of Volume II, you’ll surely have sharpened your knife skills, expanded your tastes, and enjoyed some good meals together.

    Cleopatra, by Stacy Schiff
    Travel back in time with your mom to explore the life of one of history’s most famous women. Thoroughly researched and laced with sensuous details, this biography captures the queen’s mystique and celebrates her power. Just remember who the real royalty in your relationship is—mom!

    The Beauty and The Beast, by Gabrielle-Suzanna Barbot de Villenueve
    Indulge your bedtime fairytale fantasies with this 3D interactive book. With over 200 pages, there’s a foldout map of the Beast’s castle, a punch-out rose, and, of course, the beloved story. Relive tuck-ins with this magical tale that’s old as time.

    Becoming Wise, by Krista Tippett
    My mom wants to be friends with Krista Tippet, and I’m sure she’s not the only one. After interviewing so many deep thinkers, Tippet has put down her own wise words in a book that offers insights on how to live a meaningful life. Read it together, then talk about the big and small ways you can make the world, or simply the hours you spend together, a better place.

    The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
    You can’t go wrong reading Joan Didion, and this title is one of her masterpieces. Written after her husband and daughter died in quick succession, in it Didion describes the brutal, crazy nature of grief in a way that will make you grateful to be alive and able to share this “one wild and precious life” with your mother.

    The House of Spirits, by Isabel Allende
    Discover the love, pain, and spirits that weave through the lives of three generations. A phenomenal example of magical realism, this literary classic will remind you of your own family, while at the same time transporting you to a world only a master storyteller like Allende could invent. The perfect book to read when you’ve been itching to ask your mom about your great-great-grandparents.

    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
    Head off an extensive clean-out session when your parents downsize with Marie Kondo’s approach to sorting, discarding, and organizing everything from books to clothes. Reading this together is a gift for your future self. And when your parents open the garage and find there’s plenty of room for their car, they’ll thank you, too.

    Hallelujah, Anyway, by Anne Lamott
    Whatever your relationship with your mother, forgiveness will go a long way in keeping it healthy. Wise writer Anne Lamott helps readers understand how to invite mercy into their relationships with family, friends and not friends, and even themselves. Read this with your mom, and you’ll soon experience more kindness and gentle grace during your time together. Hallelujah!

    The post 33 Books to Read with Your Mother appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Diana Biller 7:30 pm on 2016/02/16 Permalink
    Tags: families that read together, family book club,   

    5 Reasons to Start a Family Book Club (and 10 Recommendations to Get You Started) 

    An admission: I’m not a very nice board game player. As a child I sulked when I lost, crowed when I won, and cheated when I could, and as an adult I just barely manage to slap a thin veneer of politeness and fair play over the savage brat within. So when I hear families talk about that gold standard of quality family time, Family Game Night, I’m always puzzled. Do they want to re-create Lord of the Flies every night in their living room? Is it fun for them, watching their children descend into a state of nature, red in tooth and claw?

    Perhaps it is, but for the family who prefers to avoid reenacting Gladiator every third Wednesday of the month, I have a (to my mind) much more civilized alternative: the family book club. Below are five reasons to start one immediately, and ten recommendations to get you started.

    1. Because book clubs are awesome, and even more awesome when you don’t have to leave your living room.
    My monthly book club is a highlight of my social calendar (okay, it is my social calendar). It’s amazing how different other people’s perspectives on a book can be, which means that by the end of the evening you’ll frequently walk away with a much broader, more well-rounded understanding of whatever you read. And what could be better than getting all that great discussion without even having to change out of your comfy pants?

    The conversational nature of a book club also means they’re very well suited to including faraway family members—perfect for families who are scattered around the world. Just dial them up on Skype, position the laptop in a convenient location, and start chatting.

    2. Because books provide fantastic dinner conversation, whether that’s for daily family dinner or tense Thanksgivings when you’re desperate to find something to talk about that’s not politics or religion.
    You may not all support the same primary candidate, but surely everyone agrees Rainbow Rowell is a national treasure (if they don’t, disown them immediately. Some things can’t be gotten over).

    3. Because if you have younger children it’s a great way to show them how fun reading and talking about books can be, and if you have (or are) an older child, it’s a great way to bond as adults.
    Helping a child find a love of reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, and if your children are already grown, or if you’re a grown child looking for a way to stay close with your parents, books are a wonderful excuse to get together once a month and really talk.

    4. Because it’s a low-cost way to entertain an entire family.
    In the city I live in, an evening out to the movies for a family of four could easily run over forty dollars for tickets alone. Add in even very conservative refreshments and suddenly you’re looking at a sixty dollar price tag for two to three hours of entertainment. Getting a couple of books to share between you won’t break the bank. Even a quite lavish affair with a special dessert could cost less than half what a movie would.

    5. Because it’s an opportunity to learn something new about each other.
    The greatest thing about any book club is not the opportunity to talk, it’s the opportunity to listen—and what family couldn’t use a little more of that? You might be surprised by the stories and experiences you learn about, even from your nearest and dearest.

    Convinced? Of course you are. But how to pick that all-important first book? Here are ten great books that offer more than enough material to talk about.

    For the Family That Wants to Embrace the Classics

    Fiction: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    It’s an obvious choice, but given that this month will see the movie release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it seems like a good time to make sure everyone you love has read this biting, hilarious, and romantic novel.

    Nonfiction: So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures, by Maureen Corrigan
    Before The Great Gatsby was on every high school sophomore’s reading list, it spent years languishing in the literary wilds, having received mixed reviews and even lower sales upon its debut. So how did a little-read and almost forgotten book become one of the most important American novels of all time? What informed its creation? And what can we still learn from it today? Corrigan sets out to answer these questions in a witty, accessible book that will delight just as it informs.

    For the Family That Loves Politics

    Fiction: Washington, D.C, by Gore Vidal
    Most of the books from Vidal’s Narratives of Empire series would make for interesting book club discussion, but Washington, D.C., the first published and the sixth in the series, is a particularly fascinating one. Stretching from the New Deal to the McCarthy era, the novel follows several major political players—a congressman, a newspaper tycoon, and a congressional aide—as they attempt to follow the twisted path to power. Frequently named one of the great novels about American politics, it’s also enjoyable and highly readable.

    Nonfiction: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, by Jane Mayer
    In this fascinating, intensively researched book, the best-selling author of The Dark Side turns her attention to the financial side of politics. Relying on five years of interviews, Mayer paints a picture of a libertarian political network, funded by some of the country’s richest people (most prominently Charles and David Koch), that has, over the past several decades, slowly gained control over many of the nation’s most significant institutions, from universities to Congress. Including interviews with sources within the network, Dark Money raises important questions about reform and politics in America today. It’s also been creating quite a stir since its release last month, making it perfect material for your first book club meeting.

    For the Family That Loves the Movies

    Fiction: Moving Pictures, by Terry Pratchett
    Alternate filing: “For the Family That Likes Hilarious Amazing Things.” When movie magic descends on Discworld things start to get even weirder than usual, in this extremely funny satirical take on the golden age of Hollywood (the book is set in a place called Holy Wood and stars a wizard turned extra and a talking dog). Moving Pictures is the tenth book in Pratchett’s beloved Discworld series, but it’s also fairly easy to read as a standalone, so on the off chance you or your family haven’t yet been introduced to the delight that is the Discworld universe it’s an okay place to start (here’s a primer on the series to give you some background).

    Nonfiction: The Dream Life: Movies, Media, And The Mythology Of The Sixties, by J. Hoberman
    This well-reviewed book from film critic Hoberman takes the reader back to the point in time where, he argues, “movies might be political events, and political events were experienced as movies.” Easily interweaving movies, wars, pop culture, and history, Hoberman looks at the way politics and film became entangled in a book that’s as much about culture, history, and politics as it is about movies. A good choice for any family interested in movies, political culture, or the 1960’s.

    Also, I think it’s out of print, but if you ever come across a used copy of Irene Mayer Selznick’s autobiography, A Private View, pick it up. It’s one of the most delicious accounts of Hollywood inside baseball I’ve ever read (as hinted at by her name—yes, it’s that Mayer and that Selznick).

    For the Family with High-Schoolers

    Fiction: Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
    This kind, funny, occasionally tear-inducing book is one of the best young adult novels I’ve ever read, period. Set in 1986 (with all the cool retro pop-culture you could want), it follows Eleanor, a girl with wild red hair and a sharp sense of humor who has to deal with an abusive home life (Eleanor & Park is also one of the best books about abuse that I’ve ever read) as she falls in love with Park, a thoughtful, empathetic half-Korean boy from a good home. A must-read.

    Nonfiction: Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    Written from a father to his son, Coates’s latest is a deeply moving and profoundly important book about race, violence, and the United States of America, both past and present. Short, beautifully written, and accessible while still being enormously challenging, Between the World and Me debuted to rave reviews and created an immediate sensation (Toni Morrison called it “required reading” and John Greene said it was the book he was most grateful for in 2015).

    For the Family with Middle-Schoolers

    Fiction: Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones
    It’s my impression that a lot more people know about the charmingly disturbing Miyazaki film based on this book than about the book itself, which is really a shame. Diana Wynne Jones, who died in 2011, wrote some of the funniest, most imaginative children’s books I know of, and it’s my profound hope that today’s children will continue to enjoy her. Howl’s Moving Castle follows Sophie, a hat-maker who talks to her hats. When the hats begin to listen, she accidentally attracts the attention of the Witch of the Waste, who gets mad and turns her into an old woman. This is, unfortunately for Sophie, only the start of her adventures: once she meets the vain wizard Howl, things get infinitely more difficult.

    Non-fiction: Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
    This beautiful book of verse poetry contains Woodson’s reflections on being an African American child in the 1960’s and 70’s, on growing up in New York and South Carolina in a turbulent time for civil rights, and on the comfort of her family and the wonder of childhood. A winner of the National Book Award and accessible to children and adults alike, Brown Girl Dreaming is an especially good book to read together.

    What book will kick off your family book club?

  • Jeff Somers 7:30 pm on 2015/10/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , family book club,   

    6 Grown-up Books You Can Totally Read to Your Kids 

    Reading stories to children before bedtime is a hallowed tradition that encourages a love of reading and improved literacy. But just because you’re reading to kids doesn’t mean you have to read kids’ books. Reading adult novels to a child sounds like bad news (you don’t want to create a Bart Simpson “can’t sleep, clown will eat me” moment), but reading more advanced novels aloud can have real benefits: better reading comprehension, a larger vocabulary, and an expanded worldview. Here are six novels that aren’t “kids’ books” that you can totally read to your kids before bedtime.

    Animal Farm, by George Orwell
    Orwell’s classic deals with a lot of heavy, adult issues—but it does so in the guise of a children’s book about animals, making it the ideal gateway drug to turn your kids on to critical thinking. Yes, there’s some dark stuff in here, but it’s hidden by fairy tale-esque style and imagery. And most fairy tales are pretty dark, too, if you think about it.

    To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Lee’s classic novel also trades in dark themes, but the awesome, incredibly authentic voice of young Scout Finch makes it a novel kids will enjoy for the minor adventures she gets into throughout the larger story. It’s also an ideal book to begin teaching kids about struggles our society is still dealing with, without resorting to a boring lecture or history lesson.

    The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Tolkien’s first novel set in Middle Earth was intended to be a children’s book, but revisions over the years to bring it more in line with his darker The Lord of the Rings have made it more sophisticated without robbing it of its sense of “adventure!” with an exclamation mark, making it a wonderful story for kids. Hobbits, dwarves, elves, and an evil dragon? They’ll love it, and the moral quandaries at the heart of the story will teach fundamental lessons even as it thrills them.

    Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
    Some adults might worry Alcott’s beloved novel is a bit outdated in terms of gender roles and social rules—and it is—but the charming language is fun to read and to listen to, and there is literally no human being yet born who will not become emotionally entangled in the affairs of the March sisters within just a few pages. The story contains just the right medicinal amount of sadness and struggle, but is ultimately heartwarming—and will stick with kids throughout their lifetimes.

    Tom Brown’s School Days, by Thomas Hughes
    Another dated story that tells the story of Tom Brown at school, but its universal themes of childhood and the intimidating, exciting moment when you take those first steps towards independence and adulthood still resonate, as do the episodes of impish pranks and adventures (including the occasional dorm room explosion). Most importantly, the book will inspire a curiosity about others that will serve kids well when they head off on their own adventures.

    Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
    If you want to instill a love of language in your kids, read them anything by Jonathan Swift. Gulliver’s Travels dresses his incredible verbiage with a romp of a plot that follows Gulliver to the sort of magical lands that literally no child could resist. Sure, kids won’t get the things Swift was satirizing, but they’ll love the Lilliputians and the many other adventures Gulliver experiences, expanding their vocabularies and imaginations along the way.

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