Memoirs prove that our lives are not our lives alone. These recommended mother-focused memoirs show the influential role mothers play in molding future writers and artists.
Book of My Mother by Albert Cohen
French literary gem from the 1950s where Albert Cohen pays loving tribute, both comic and sad, to his late mother.
Daughter of the Queen of Sheba by Jacki Lyden
Black humor alternates with almost unbearable pathos in NPR journalist Jacki Lyden's memoir of her mother's manic-depressive episodes that gave an unhappy housewife a sense of power and freedom.
The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr
A darkly comic story, Karr writes with Southern charm and bare-faced frankness of her East Texas childhood with a neurotic, pill-popping and oft-wed artist for a mother.
Memory Palace by Mira Bartók
A disturbing, mesmerizing personal narrative about growing up with a brilliant but schizophrenic mother. Winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography.
Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes
Roland Barthes lived with his mother in Southern France all his life. She adored him, supported his difference, his genius. Since her death has ripped away such affecttion, he quickly diagnoses his condition: “I’m not mourning,” he writes, “I’m suffering.”
My Dark Places by James Ellroy
Ellroy's mother was found strangled to death in a schoolyard when Ellroy was only 10 years old. In this memoir, Ellroy documents his ensuing obsession with sex crimes and homicides.
Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son’s Memoir by David Rieff
In this intensely personal and candid book by Susan Sontag’s son about her life and death, fans of the literary icon won’t be disappointed — the woman is a force to be reckoned with, even in her last days.
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
Honest and compelling memoir asks what would it have meant if things had been good between the author and her adopted mother, a religious zealot.