Mother-Daughter Book Club: Slice of Life #sol19

I know exactly why I am a reader. Because of my mother.

When I was growing up, she read to me every night before bed (even now when I reread Bedtime for Frances, possibly my very favorite childhood book, I hear her voice telling the story). She took me to the library every week. She always found money for me to buy books from the Scholastic Book Fair. She even joined the Parents Magazine Press Book Club and had a book subscription for a period of time. (Such wonderful books came to me that way: Miss Suzy and Alexander and Mog the Forgetful Cat and Harvey’s Hideout.)

But the best thing she did to make me a reader was read herself. She seemed to be always busy and doing and making and going when I was little, yet she found time every day to sit and read. Nothing could have been more powerful than her example. Reading must be very valuable if my very active mother made time to sit down and do it every day.

Although we’re both voracious readers and share many of the same interests and concerns and tastes, our reading lives don’t overlap as much as you might think, and that’s been especially true over the past decade or so as I’ve immersed myself more and more in children’s and young adult literature. She reads an occasional picture book, middle-grade, or YA novel, but it’s not her preferred reading. She has broad reading interests–books on Buddhism and mindfulness, aging and death, quilting, gardening, raising sheep and keeping bees, World War I, women’s detective fiction–and for decades, has exclusively read women writers. I have broad reading interests too, but none of them really overlap with hers, aside from the occasional book on Buddhism.

And so while we do chat all the time about what we’re reading, we rarely read the same books.

But this year, we’re going to read together. We’ve started our very own book club of two to tackle Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. There are 24 tasks in the challenge, many of them focused on reading diversely–format, genre, author. We’ll also try to read only women authors for the challenge.

I’m open to her recommendations for each category but also hoping that I get to do the work that I love best–scouring the Internet for new-to-me titles to suggest. (Is there a job where all you do is research new books online? If so, I think I’d be really good at it.) After I narrow each category to a few titles, my mom can make the final choice. Then we read at the same time and text for our discussions.

Not at all on purpose, our first book ended up being a “historical romance by an author of color.” Visions of Sarah Plain and Tall clouding my judgment, I pushed hard for a romance about a mail-order bride who moves to Wyoming to marry the local doctor and take care of his daughter. (Readers, it is nothing, NOTHING, like Sarah Plain and Tall.) My mother found two copies at our local library, and so we were off. She’s already finished the book, while I’m stuck between two sex scenes, too frightened to keep reading. (It’s a big leap from middle-grade fiction to “throbbing manhood.”) But if she can do it, so can I. (And the parts that aren’t sex scenes are pretty decent.)

Checking in with each other about progress and responses via texting is really working for me. I like how naturally book chat fits in, interspersed with cat photos and grocery lists and health updates.

I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to think of a yearlong reading challenge with my mom, but I’m glad we’re doing it now.






11 responses to “Mother-Daughter Book Club: Slice of Life #sol19”

  1. Scott Day Avatar

    I’m a reader because of my grandmother. Whenever I visited her house she was either reading or painting. She preferred mysteries and was a member of a mystery book club. She also loved reciting (from memory) Rudyard Kipling’s L’Envoi.

  2. Juliana Ellington Avatar
    Juliana Ellington

    I’m so pleased that you decided to suggest reading together. I just noticed a package in my mailbox, and I think it may be our second book! No distressing references to throbbing male or female anatomy, I hope, I hope, lol!

  3. Trina K Haase Avatar

    I love that you are doing this with your mom! So cool! Your Read Harder Challenge sounds just like that – a challenge! Kudos to you!

  4. Lisa Corbett Avatar

    I love this! My mom is not a reader, but my grandmother was and it is her fault I am the way I am. 😉 I would love to be able to do a book club with her. She was a reader of Westerns, and I have read maybe 2 my entire life!

  5. readingteachsu Avatar

    What a gift to have a book club with your mom. I know you will have an unforgettable year.

  6. arjeha Avatar

    What a great idea starting a book club with your mom. It will be interesting to see if you both expand your book preferences over the course of the year. It will also be interesting to see if generational issues shape your perspectives on the books. Please keep us posted.

  7. Amanda Potts Avatar

    What a great idea. I can’t wait to hear how this book club progresses, and I’m wondering if my mother or aunt might be interested… Also you get serious credit for this laugh-out-loud line – as a parenthetical, no less: “(It’s a big leap from middle-grade fiction to “throbbing manhood.”)”

  8. margaretsmn Avatar

    I love this idea and look forward to your updates. My mother is an avid reader, too. I don’t think I could keep up with her, though. She has a lot more time for reading than I do.

  9. […] slice about the new book club for two that my mother and I […]

  10. Akilah Avatar


    Also, I felt this in my soul: (It’s a big leap from middle-grade fiction to “throbbing manhood.”)

    The struggle is real.

  11. […] Modern Mrs. Darcy podcast and the choice my mother and I made for the epistolary novel category of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, which we are completing together this year. I was looking for a readalike for 84 Charing Cross Road […]

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