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4 Captivating Mother’s Day Reads Recommended by a Fellow Mom

by  | May 5
Book with blankets

I’m sure I’m not the only mom struggling to read a book during quarantine (other than my kids’ current favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas—a classic any time of the year!). In addition to my full-time job, my days are consumed by homeschooling, cleaning up an endless tornado of paper scraps and broken crayons, and fixing approximately 24,804,343 snacks. By the end of the day, all I want to do is curl up in the fetal position with a goblet of wine and the latest season of Married at First Sight queued up on Netflix, but if you’re a burnt-out parent looking for a book to help you forget—if only for a short while—that you have kids in these tough times, here are my picks. Maybe someday I’ll have child care again so I can re-read these stories myself!

Find out what additional books Simon & Schuster recommends for Mother’s Day on their Books to Give Mom gift guide!

Perfect Tunes

Perfect Tunes

by Emily Gould

Sweetbitter meets Gilmore Girls in this funny, relatable novel about music, motherhood, and missed opportunities. When singer-songwriter Laura becomes a single mother unexpectedly at 22, her world is turned upside down—raising an infant on her own doesn't exactly lend itself to writing songs that will change the world. Fifteen years later, her daughter, Marie, is struggling with who she is and her relationship with her mother, and asking questions about her father. She embarks on a search that reveals truths about herself and about Laura's past, and will lead any reader to wonder: Who was my mother before she had me? Like me, Emily Gould is a mom of young kids, and her writing about the oddities, frustrations, and joys of raising small humans hits as close to home for me as did her depictions of New York City's East Village in the early 2000s—a place and time I currently miss very much.

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The Turn of the Key

The Turn of the Key

by Ruth Ware

No matter where you’re spending your quarantine, it'll look downright idyllic compared to Heatherbrae House, the sprawling Victorian manor turned technology-packed modern “smart home” that provides the setting for The Turn of the Key. Rowan Caine, aimless and unemployed, is thrilled to accept a position as live-in nanny at Heatherbrae: What could go wrong living in this gorgeous house taking care of three angelic-looking little girls? As she settles into her new job and life at Heatherbrae, Rowan slowly comes to realize that her new charges have secrets as dark and disturbing as her own, and that the house’s mod-cons could turn on her at any moment. This twist-filled, terrifying, and extremely claustrophobic thriller will keep you turning the pages past midnight—and then eyeing your own children differently in the morning.

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Red, White & Royal Blue

Red, White & Royal Blue

by Casey McQuiston

Sometimes all you need to take your mind off the stresses of the world is a book that is, quite simply, delightful. Casey McQuiston’s Red, White, and Royal Blue imagines a world in which a blonde, bold Democrat wins the 2016 election and becomes the first female president of the United States. Charming but impulsive First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is thrown into the world of international politics, the perks of which include plenty of glamorous parties with heads of state from around the world. One night he meets the heir to the British throne, the pensive and droll Prince Henry, and after a series of hilarious events, PR dustups, and many emails across the pond, Alex realizes that he’s in love…with someone who can never publicly love him in return. This thoroughly modern rom-com had me hysterically laughing on one page and crying on the next. A great love story with high stakes and characters that feel like they will jump off the page at any second can always make you forget about anything happening in the real world, at least temporarily.

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The Library Book

The Library Book

by Susan Orlean

Whether she’s writing about rare orchid dealers, Rin Tin Tin, or female matadors, journalist Susan Orlean has the unique ability to transport you to new places and introduce you to characters you’d never dream of finding outside of a novel. The Library Book, selected as a pick by Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club, is ostensibly about the Los Angeles Public Library fire of April 29, 1986, the largest library fire in American history. In uncovering the events of the day and attempting to excavate clues about the origin of the fire, Orlean journeys into tangents both fascinating and surprising—the history of Los Angeles and the taming of the American West; the hidden operations of a large urban library system; and how exactly a book burns. Best of all though are the author’s memories of her childhood trips to the library with her mother, and the weight of her newly checked-out books in her lap on the drive home. A joy to read, this book made me long to escape to the library where I grew up, where I returned weekly to ask for more recommendations, and where I then spent long afternoons curled up at the foot of the stacks.

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Meredith Vilarello is the associate publisher at Avid Reader Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Her fictional heroines are Matilda Wormwood, Mallory Pike, and Daenerys Targaryen, and she spent much of her childhood reading when she was supposed to be sleeping. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children, a book-obsessed toddler and a bone-obsessed big red dog.