What To Get Your Book-Loving Mom For Mother’s Day

Gift Ideas For Book-Loving Moms on Mother's Day

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a decent amount of time you know that I lost my mom to brain cancer in 2006 when I just shy of 21 years old. My mom was a reader — she devoured John Grisham and just about any other mystery or thriller, memoirs of all kinds, any Oprah book club book and any sort of romance (Danielle Steele was her favorite).  I feel like I definitely got my love for reading at an early age from her. I always think about how our relationship would have changed once I became an adult (things were a bit tumultuous between us when she got sick). One of the things I often think about is if we would have talked books and given each other recommendations. I wonder if she would have branched out in her reading tastes and we could have read books together. I really would have loved to buy her books for Mother’s Day!

So I thought it might be fun to put together some books (and extra non-book goodies at the end) to help you pick out for YOUR moms for Mother’s Day! (Or for yourself, let’s be real!).

Mostly everything is going to be more recent releases in hopes that your mom hasn’t read it yet!

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On Mother’s Day (And I Swear I’m Not Going To Cry This Year)

This day. It’s always so bittersweet for me. On one hand, for weeks leading up to it with all those Mother’s Day ads all up in my face, it is just a knife to the heart. Mother’s Day before my mom passed was a perfunctory sort of thing but now what I wouldn’t give to celebrate my mom and spend some quality time with her. But on the other hand, I get to celebrate the fact that for 20-ish years of my life I had an amazing and inspiring mom — which is something I realize I was lucky to have because some people don’t ever get that. Brain cancer may have taken her away but it can’t take away those memories and the things I’ve learned from her and from losing her. It’s all shaped the person I am and I’m quite happy with that person — flaws and all…though obviously those are a work in progress.

Last year I apparently made lots of people cry with my Mother’s Day post so I vowed not to do that again. But if you want to want to hear my story + find out why I read books dealing with grief so much, read last year’s post. And then the year before I talked about being a motherless daughter on Mother’s Day.

So instead let’s do some lists?


6 Things I Will Do To Honor My Mom This Mother’s Day:



1. Drink some wine (or a daquiri if I can swing it because those were her faves).

2. Listen to some Jimmy Buffet — my mom was a huge Jimmy Buffet fan and I’m already crying (I broke my vow yeah?) as I type this but here’s a story from the day she passed on July 2, 2006. My stepdad came up to my room and told us (he’s in the medical field and knows all the things) that my mom’s breathing was really indicating she was in her final couple of days. We were shaken but we knew it was coming. He told us to still go to the pool party we were heading out to and, before we did, we spent a little extra time in the living room with her (she was not at all there at this point) talking to her and hoping she heard us which is something I didn’t always do before I left. But we did and before we left we were like, “Hey, let’s put some Jimmy Buffet on for her.” And we did. Cheeseburger in Paradise. And we kissed her and said we loved her and we left. 15 minutes later we got a call from my stepdad to come home because it wasn’t looking good. We drove home as fast as we could but we didn’t make it. But, in a way, I was okay with that. She passed with my stepdad (who is the very definition of selfless) and her mother and the sounds of Jimmy Buffet around her. We even played good ol’ Jimmy lightly in the background at her viewing because my mother would have hated the crap they were playing. So this is an important one.

3. Honor + celebrate Will’s mom (and call my stepmom) — When my mom first passed, I refused to do anything Mother’s Day related except hang with my sis and stepdad and even though that was hard for me too at first because I just really wanted to curl up in bed. Now, I’m better with it and we spend Mother’s Day with Will’s mom. I know my mom would want me to take the time to get to know Will’s mom and be thankful for the love she’s shown me. It’s really strange for me that Will never got to meet my mom but I’m happy that I get to know his. It’s a weird day for Will too because the mom I speak of is actually his stepmom that has pretty much always been his mom because his mom passed when he was 4.

4. Do something special for my sister — My sister is my best friend and it wasn’t always so. We were best friends growing up, HATED each other in high school and college and once she told me she was pregnant (with Genevieve) we became best friends again. My mom had a rocky relationship with her sister and I know it got a lot better when she got sick but she always used to tell us we were going to need each other some day. And she was right. Oh so right. My sister has her two babies but she’s also a stepmom and things have been really rough there lately so she deserves some special kindness.


5. Wear purple — My mom’s favorite color was purple. And not just like in the way that someone just says it’s their favorite color. Like with her WHOLE BEING purple was her favorite color. So many purple things in our house. Oh god, it’s kind of like me with the color yellow. I am so my mother.

6. Reach out to the other motherless daughters (and sons) in my life: Sometimes it’s hard to say everything happens for a reason but I firmly believe in doing the best I can with whatever happens. Sometimes I want to be selfish and wallow in my own sadness but through the years I’ve had this urge to show love to those who are also going through this. It’s a hard day no matter the awesome stepmoms or MILs or mother-like figures you have in your life to shower with love. My mom was always there for her people and I know she’d want me to do the same.


6 Things I Miss About My Mom

I can’t even begin to tell you all the things I miss about her that I took forgranted but here are 6 big things.

1. How she laughed — Oh my god. My mom. When she laughed, she really laughed. She would laugh reallyyyy silently and you weren’t sure if she was breathing but you saw her whole body moving. And then all of a sudden she would let out this crazy snort/wheeze thing and she would be crying. It was the kind of laugh that made the rest of us die laughing. Sometimes I had no idea what we were laughing about.

2. How she danced — My mom was the one who made me have no shame for dancing like a fool. You might think she was drunk when she was dancing (but most of the time she wasn’t) but oh my god she was always the one out on the dance floor before everyone else and the last one being dragged off. I have the BEST picture at a family friend’s wedding reception of my mom crazy dancing and some of my guy friends dancing with her. It was hilarious and when I see the one particular guy friend he always laughs about it.

3. Her crazy hair — I inherited my mother’s hair for sure although mine might be less huge? My mom had the craziest, biggest curliest hair. She was like always known for it and everyone coveted it. I was not happy with my curly hair for all my life up until the past 2 years but now I can of love it and feel a bit wild letting it go curly rather than straight. Plus, everyone keeps telling me it makes me look more like my mom.

4. How she was the most motivated person I know — My mom was determined. Sometimes maybe too much but she was. She didn’t like the situation she was in so she got out of it. She worked hard balancing work and advancing her career while being divorced from my dad. The amazing growth she had in her career is inspiring because I know how hard she worked and how determined she was to get there. My mom was working on her MBA when she got diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and told she had 6 months to live (she lived almost 2 years beyond that). What did she do? She kept going with it and she finished all her coursework — a week later she had a major seizure because of the tumor which really made things deteriorate. But she still walked across that stage to get that degree she earned with my stepdad holding her up most of the way.

5. How she was ALWAYS the life of the party — My mom and I did not really get along for most of my teenage life. Like really bad. I moved out for a month because things got so bad between us. One of those things I always thought I’d have time to fix when I “grew up.” But there was still this undeniable magic I always observed when she was with people. She always had that sparkle and mischief in her eyes, everyone wanted to talk to her and she just always was the person whose light shined the brightest and whose smile was the first one you’d see. Amidst all our struggles, I miss that about her. Even if that wasn’t always directed at me…I miss seeing it.

6. How she was SO obnoxiously passionate about her Florida Gators: Oh dear God. If you were a fan of the team playing the Gators, you would want to leave. She was a Florida girl through and through and hated living up North. Watching a sporting event with her was the greatest when it included the Gators. Especially when the Gators would play my stepdad’s team. It made football ten times more fun.


So Happy Mother’s Day to all you mommas and future mommas out there! And extra love to those without your mom’s this year or to those who aren’t on good terms with theirs. XOXO. And I’d love to hear about your mom and your relationship and anything you want to tell me about your mom because mother/daughter relationships are of so much interest to me these days.

A Motherless Daughter on Mother’s Day Part Two: Why I Read Books Dealing With Grief/Loss

Back in 2011 I wrote the post “A Motherless Daughter on Mother’s Day” in which I talked a little bit about the mother/daughter relationship and gave some recommendations for books dealing with mother/daughter relationships. I’ve been feeling like writing this post for a while and Mother’s Day seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so since it has to do with my mom — but in a different way.


I recently made a Top Ten Tuesday list in which I talked about the 10 words/topics that will automatically pick up a book. Grief was on that list. I am ridiculously called to books that deal with grief as a teen — specifically of losing a parent. I can’t help it. Sometimes you have to read what you know. Sometimes it feels like I’m a glutton for punishment as I weep along with the book and my heart just decides to replay my own story over and over again. But sometimes it is amazingly healing. No matter what, I’m always a sobby mess.

20130511-230922.jpgI think the thing that fascinates me about YA books dealing with the loss of a parent in its many stages, besides the obvious that I relate all to well to it, is that at that age nobody really thinks about death or dying; especially not in relation to a parent. Your parents are the people who are the pain in your ass but are always there taking care of you. You don’t ever expect to see them revert back to a child because cancer is eating away at their brain. You don’t ever expect that they won’t be standing over you nagging someday. They aren’t supposed to go anywhere as much as sometimes you feel like you DO want them to just leave you alone. As much as people say that teens think they are invincible, which is true a lot of the times, I also think we don’t ever see our parents dying until they are old and grey. We think they are invincible.

And that’s why I treated my relationship with my mom the way I did. As a child she was my mom and I adored her. In middle school, I got frustrated with her for normal reasons and felt “embarrassed” but I also had complicated feelings because she was moving us four hours away from our dad (they had been divorced since I was 5). In high school, we had a really, really awful relationship. Hate was thrown out on both sides. Lots of screaming. Lots of fighting. I saw her as the enemy. I even moved out for a month because it got so bad. December 2003, my senior year in high school, was when my mom got diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. They gave her 6 months to live. She lived until July 2nd of 2006. Those years were excruciating to watch her slowly die but also to deal with all of the anger and hurt from our relationship. Luckily, by the time she passed away, I really forgave her and started to understand her but it was hard.

I was 18 and all I knew was that my mom was going to die. It wasn’t “maybe someday when she was old and grey” but it was soon. And in my brain I couldn’t comprehend this. You always hear that people become best friends with their moms when they get older. It wasn’t fair. I wouldn’t get to do that. I would never get to understand my mom. If I would have known that THAT stage of my life would never get to happen maybe I would have treated her differently when I was growing up. Maybe I would have tried to learn from her, listen to her, love her, try to understand her. I think that is the hardest part of dealing with my mom’s death today — that I will never get that part of the mother/daughter relationship. I will NEVER get to be best friends with my mom. She was the superhero mom to me as a child — I experienced that nurturing. I had the fighting and slamming doors and I HATE YOU’S of a teen & their mom. But I never will get what happens when you get in your twenties and start to realize all the things your mom did and said were right; albeit sometimes misguided. When you become less selfish and start to appreciate her. The thing is I’ve realized all those things…I just can’t tell her that.

When you are 18 you never think that your mom won’t be there on your wedding day. Going through that this past August was definitely the biggest life moment where I really felt my mom’s absence. I tried to include her memory in small ways — roses on the alter and mirroring a picture I did after a really beautiful portrait of her staring out the window on her own wedding day. You never think that your parents won’t be there for your college graduation or to help you figure out what to do when your career isn’t going how you thought it would. You never, at 18, even imagine that your mom will never get to hold your child. I haven’t been through this but I felt this very strongly when my sister had Genevieve.


So why do I turn to books that deal with grief?

Because I feel like I’m not alone. They bring up things that help me work through it in ways I never could have thought without the stories these authors bring to life that make me deal with it from afar…yet so intimately. They help me to process things that I could not process as a scared 18 year old girl who part hated and part desperately loved her mother. I’ve come to be able to put these things into words and to use my experiences to be an ear for others going through the same thing that I went through. I’ve been able to talk to teens in my life and try to give them perspective about their moms.

And mostly reading YA that deal with this helps me to continue to work through it in a healthy way and to remember to not take forgranted other people in my life who I’m not guaranteed another day with. I don’t want to sit back and think I’ll have all the time in the world to have the most fulfilling relationships I can possibly have with them. I don’t think in somedays anymore. I think of now.

Now let’s get into some book recommendations — to, ya know, bring this back to books! These are books that deal with grief or a loss in different stages and different ways.

YA Books  Dealing With Grief



The obvious loss related to Mother’s Day will always be there but it is also a day to remember her, to celebrate a wonderful stepmom (and now also a mother-in-law) and to celebrate my sister who has proven already to be an amazing mom to Genevieve. There is a lot of good to this day. I’m happy to be feeling that way just by thinking about it a little differently even if that just means celebrating the people who are mom’s in my life or donating to a woman’s shelter. My mom might not be here with me but I know these things honor her memory.

Tell me about your mom! What are some of your favorite books about mothers and daughters or about grief? Are there any topics in books that you seek out because you relate all too well to it?

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