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ande
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#18 The Mother of all Lists: Obama, mamas and books

[ Edited ]

Hello, Book Explorers:

 

Would I be writing this today if I didn’t have a mother who read books, experimented a bit with writing, put books in front of me from the earliest age, got me a library card and made books part of the everyday landscape of our home? Hard to say, but I know this much: whenever I whined about being bored she would give me three words of advice –- read a book. And, boy did I ever. I was not born into a bookish family. My parents were first-generation Americans whose parents spoke a stew of English and languages from the old country. My generation was the first to go to college.

 

I got to thinking about all this for a couple of reasons. The first has to do with Barack Obama’s mom. If you haven’t read his autobiography, Dreams from My Father, you should. When Obama began to run for president like many I was intrigued by this man’s quilt of a childhood with pieces from Kenya, Indonesia, Kansas, Hawaii. His book helped me understand him in a way I couldn’t have otherwise. And his mother. Most of the descriptions of her in the media summed her up as a “free spirit,” “hippie” or “nomad.” She was made to sound ditzy –- not grounded by her own ideas and work and strong sense of how a mother raises a child. One of the most touching passages in the book is in the preface of the paperback edition I read. Obama poignantly writes nothing short of a love note to his mother. In retrospect he wished the book had not been so about an absent father but his very, very present mother who is responsible for what he considers his best parts.

 

The second, all too obvious one, is the Mother’s Day advertising tsunami for jewelry, lingerie, appliances, vacations and special dinners –- everything but books, it seems.

 

I can tell, Book Explorers, that you like lists since you’ve contributed so generously to the Just Read It List among others. So here’s the Mother’s Day Mother of all Lists. Let’s salute mothers (your own or someone else’s if yours has nothing to do with your best parts) and authors who write mother characters in the universe of books and make some gift suggestions, too. While we’re at it, let’s also give our favorite mothers the gift of time to slip away and read a book.

 

Most meaningful gift book:  Of course, it is Monique and the Mango Rains, Kris Holloway’s memoir of her time in the Peace Corps working with midwife in Mali. This beautiful book of two women’s friendship is filled with mothers doing their best for their babies in a part of the world where simply keeping your baby alive is fulltime work. Part of the proceeds from the book goes to Clinique Monique, a maternal and child health clinic that the author is building in honor of her friend. In addition to income from books sales readers have contributed more than $40,000 to the project. Read more about it (and contribute) at www.moniquemangorains.com.

 

Fiercest mother: Beloved

 

Models of mothering: Secret Life of Bees

 

Community of mothers: The Red Tent

 

Okay, I’ve gotten you started. Add to mine or start new categories with books that are new, old, fiction, non-fiction. Short stories, too, for those time–starved moms. Make gift suggestions and tell us: Who are your book characters picks for

 

Best mom

 

Worst mom

 

Funny mom

 

Conflicted

 

Flawed mom

 

 

Glad she’s not my mom!

 

 

Can’t wait to see your lists!

 

Ande

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Message Edited by ande on 04-29-2008 11:05 AM
Melissa_W
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Re: #18 The Mother of all Lists: Obama, mamas and books

[ Edited ]

Most meaningful gift book:  I gave my mom a children's picture book a couple of years ago for Mother's Day.  I'd ran out of ideas but the book fit what I was thinking to a "T" - it's titled No Matter What and involves a little fox asking his (presumably because they don't specify) Mommy fox if she would still love him even if he turned into a variety of nasty things.  She always says she'll love him "No matter what."

Fiercest mother: Molly Weasley, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (and any of the other six books in the series)

Models of mothering: My Mom (hey, I turned out ok)!

Community of mothers: The Red Tent (so true!)

Worst mom (ever):  Mommie Dearest, this would be my revenge gift if my childhood had been terrible (Joan Crawford gave me nightmares after I read this book)

Funny mom:  Erma Bombeck (if I ever heard my mom snickering while reading a book, it was probably one of Erma's)

Conflicted: Thursday Next (Jasper Fforde's "Thursday Next" series, which starts with The Eyre Affair); Thursday finds out she's pregnant in book #2 (Lost in a Good Book), spends all of book #3 pregnant (The Well of Lost Plots) and is a mom in books #4 and 5 (Something Rotten and First Amongst Sequels)

Flawed mom:  Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice; she's not a terrible mom but so brain dead that she's lucky only Lydia winds up a boy-crazy flirt and not all five




Message Edited by pedsphleb on 04-29-2008 01:12 PM
Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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Re: #18 The Mother of all Lists: Obama, mamas and books

Good job!
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Re: #18 The Mother of all Lists: Obama, mamas and books

Book Explorers:
 
A smart and funny guy named Jesse Kornblut offers daily recommendations of books, music and many at other things on his website/blog www.headbutler.com He writes really well, his taste is eclectic and his suggestions are never the same-old same-old. Here's what he's has to say about  Mother's Day presents:
 
My thought is not to reinvent Mom on “her” day but, when it comes to gifts, ignore the day's Hallmark aspects. That is, give her what she cares about or might --- without regard to the holiday and its unsettlingly powerful commercial pressures. Bluntly: Treat her like the person she is. She likes French novels, there you go; she collects first editions of Nora Roberts, there's your gift.

In making my list for Mother's Day, I've gathered mostly works by women. And there's an unusually large selection of serious stuff. Why? Can't really say. Maybe an abiding believe in the superiority of women. Or, at their very least, their voracious appetite for knowledge and understanding. And, of course, their interest in men, and everything that follows.

Bel-Ami
He's unspeakably handsome, marginally talented and totally amoral. In de Maupassant's great novel, how can Bel-Ami not use women to rise and rise?

Colette
Her work ranges from scandalous fiction to memoirs of country life to a novel inspired by her mother.

Epictetus
A pocket-sized guide to Stoicism that fits in a soccer mom's pocket, giving her instant protection against suburban anxiety.

Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali
This is why daughters join the Peace Corps. And their mothers cheer.

Everybody Was So Young
Ah, the glamour: the Riviera, loads of dough, the 1920s, F. Scott and Ernest. But it's not all parties....

Girls Like Us
Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon. Three singer-songwriters, their lives, their times. The brain candy book of summer, already moving up the Times list.

The Wilder Shores of Love
They were white and privileged -- and hot for the burning sand of Arabia.

C'est La Vie
Her husband died. She paid for his funeral with a credit card to get the frequent flyer miles. Then she was off to France...

Dreaming in Libro: How A Good Dog Tamed A Bad Woman
A fiercely independent New Yorker finds a male to open her heart. A male dog.

Kabul Beauty School
What can a woman from Michigan do for the women of war-torn Afghanistan? Their hair.

Life is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days
Elegant and toothsome, a collection of memories that will remind you of your great nights.

Little Heathens
The Depression years. In the Midwest. No walking to school barefoot in winter, but everything else --- including charm and wit.

My Father's Secret War
A Pultizer Prize-winner investigates what Dad did in World War II --- and learns who he really is.

My Life in France
Julia Child's memoirs. Food and marriage and culture --- she makes you wish time travel were possible.

Please Excuse My Daughter
The slacker daughter of a shopper mom tells the story of growing up overprivileged and underprepared. Funny.

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
Mom wanted you to grow up healthy and strong. Return the favor.

Park Avenue Potluck: Recipes from New York's Savviest Hostesses
Chic women, beautiful apartments, shockingly accessible recipes.

How Not to Look Old
Think twice. But if mom has vanity and talks longingly about “work”, this is the primer.

Pema Chodron
The best-known American Buddhist lays her thinking out in blunt, non-religious terms.

Ball N' Chain
Big Mama Thornton wrote “Houng Dog”. About certain men, this blues singer was an expert.

Tift Merritt
She went to Paris. She returned with songs that are part country, part Piaf.

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
The Led Zep singer and the Nashville fiddler make spooky magic.

Teddy Thompson
He's cute and full of attitude, and he's push-pull with women. And these might just be the best songs in years about all that.

Umalali: The Garifuna Women's Project
They live in Belize, speak a dying language. But their concerns are universal. And the music is beyond catchy.

Mitch Hedberg
A comic so funny he doesn't even have to work blue.

Cambodian Market Bags
Does she care about the environment? Still want to be stylish? These work on both levels

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Re: #18 The Mother of all Lists: Obama, mamas and books

James Joyce had this to say about mothers:

"Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother's love is not."

A backhanded compliment if ever there was one.

 

Some choice literary quotes:

  • Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own....Aristotle

  • No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement....Florida Scott-Maxwell

  • Good Grief, It's Mother's Day!....Charlie Brown

    IBIS

IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Re: #18 The Mother of all Lists: Obama, mamas and books

A backhanded compliment, indeed!
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Re: #18 The Mother of all Lists: Obama, mamas and books



ande wrote:
A backhanded compliment, indeed!





Russell Baker's mother, in his autobiography "Growing Up", moved me a great deal.
When I first read that book I was very impressed with her. Then, I shared the book with my father. He read the first few pages and said "Boy, does he hate his mother". I hadn't seen it but, I thought it was so interesting and true. Maybe it's part of being someone's child, that love-hate mix.
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Re: #18 The Mother of all Lists: Obama, mamas and books

I loved Growing Up, which I read many years ago. Very moving and well written and it reminds me that  I miss reading Russell Baker's columns and getting his take on things. As for his mother: I'll have to have a look at the book (it's here somewhere) since, like you, I don't remember his dislike for his mother. I do remember that life was hard.
 
Ande
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Re: #18 The Mother of all Lists: Obama, mamas and books



ande wrote:
I loved Growing Up, which I read many years ago. Very moving and well written and it reminds me that  I miss reading Russell Baker's columns and getting his take on things. As for his mother: I'll have to have a look at the book (it's here somewhere) since, like you, I don't remember his dislike for his mother. I do remember that life was hard.

 

Ande





I'm so glad that you didn't see it either. My father had a very ambitious mother, ambitious for him. He always resented her and I think he recognized that in Russell Baker's feelings for his mom. I really loved that book and saw his mother as heroic.
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Re: #18 The Mother of all Lists: Obama, mamas and books

Ain't it always that way -- or almost always that way. Most the stuff my mother advised when I was a kid that I dismissed abnd rebelled against makes a lot of sense now that I am not a kid.