If you are looking for thought provoking books for Mom, shop no further. Below is a list of personal favorite titles for Mom. This isn’t a list of this year’s favorite reads, but these are the works I have loved through the years. You are sure to find a thought provoking book she will love (possibly you will find one, too!).
This list of best books is not in any particular order, but just know I love every one. They have a way of staying in my heart, and I hope you find one your Mom will enjoy.
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Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
So, this thought provoking book makes the list because it reminded me a bit of my own childhood. Fortunately mine didn’t have real tragedy.
Excerpt from Amazon for Peace Like River:
“Young Reuben Land has little doubt that miracles happen all around us, suspecting that his own father is touched by God. When his older brother flees a controversial murder charge, Reuben, along with his older sister and father, set off on a journey that will take them to the Badlands and through a landscape more extraordinary than they could have anticipated. Enger’s novel is at once a heroic quest and a haunting meditation on the possibility of magic in the everyday world.”
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
I reminisce often about this thought provoking read because it is both lovely and tragic at the same time. When should loyalty end?
The Remains of the Day excerpt from Amazon blurb:
“This is Kazuo Ishiguro’s profoundly compelling portrait of Stevens, the perfect butler, and of his fading, insular world in post-World War II England. Stevens, at the end of three decades of service at Darlington Hall, spending a day on a country drive, embarks as well on a journey through the past in an effort to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving the “great gentleman,” Lord Darlington. But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington’s “greatness,” and much graver doubts about the nature of his own life.”
The Goldfinch: A Novel by Donna Tartt
This one reminded of Charles Dickens’ style in part because The Goldfinch follows Theo from his childhood into adulthood. Some people find this longish, but it belongs on my list of thought provoking books.
The Goldfinch: A Novel‘s snippet from Amazon:
“Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.”
The Tie that Binds by Kent Haruf
I read this hauntingly lovely story years ago. It remains on my list of all-time faves, perhaps because we owe so much to farmers.
A snippet from the Amazon review of The Tie that Binds:
“Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter prairie itself. Here, Kent Haruf delivers the sweeping tale of a woman of the American High Plains, as told by her neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. As Roscoe shares what he knows, Edith’s tragedies unfold: a childhood of pre-dawn chores, a mother’s death, a violence that leaves a father dependent on his children, forever enraged. Here is the story of a woman who sacrifices her happiness in the name of family–and then, in one gesture, reclaims her freedom.”
Black River by S.M. Hulse
As far as I know, this is a first novel by a youngish man, and WOW! It’s a layered story, so we learn the backstory as we go. Definitely one of my thought provoking books!
A snippet from Amazon’s review of Black River:
“Wes Carver returns to his hometown—Black River, Montana—with two things: his wife’s ashes and a letter from the parole board. The convict who once held him hostage during a prison riot is up for release. For years, Wes earned his living as a corrections officer and found his joy playing the fiddle. But the riot shook Wes’s faith and robbed him of his music; now he must decide if his attacker should walk free. With “lovely rhythms, spare language, tenderness, and flashes of rage” (Los Angeles Review of Books), S. M. Hulse shows us the heart and darkness of an American town, and one man’s struggle to find forgiveness in the wake of evil.”
House by Tracy Kidder
This book is non-fiction, and it’s another one that stayed with me years after I read it. In fact, I read it so long ago that the cover is different. Anyway, the story follows the builder, the customer and the house designer. Utterly fascinating and my candidate for one of the best thought provoking books.
A snippet from Amazon’s review of House:
“Tracy Kidder takes readers to the heart of the American Dream: the building of a family’s first house with all its day-to-day frustrations, crises, tensions, challenges, and triumphs. “
Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr
Maybe I enjoy this one because I love Mexico. Doerr captures the Mexican respect for hard work and the harshness of the land. And love. This book is all about love. I wish they would make this one into a movie. I’d go.
Snippet from Amazon review of Stones for Ibarra:
“Richard and Sara Everton, just over and just under forty, have come to the small Mexican village of Ibarra to reopen a copper mine abandoned by Richard’s grandfather fifty years before. They have mortgaged, sold, borrowed, left friends and country, to settle in this remote spot; their plan is to live out their lives here, connected to the place and to each other.
The two Americans, the only foreigners in Ibarra, live among people who both respect and misunderstand them. And gradually the villagers–at first enigmas to the Evertons–come to teach them much about life and the relentless tide of fate.”
Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke
This wonderful Dave Robicheaux mystery stayed with me perhaps because it gives such a strong sense of place. It’s set in Louisiana, a state I lived in for several years. When I read this book, I feel the steamy heat of that beautiful state.
A snippet from Amazon about Black Cherry Blues:
“Evil crept into Dave Robicheaux’s bayou world one night and destroyed the woman he loved. Now it’s threatening the life of his innocent child.
Framed for murder, the Cajun ex-cop is traveling far from his Louisiana home to clear his name, to help a friend, to save what remains of his family—seeking justice and revenge in the Big Sky Country of Montana.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel by David Wroblewski
I just couldn’t put this down. I love stories about kids and dogs. The book is beautifully written and thus earned a place on my list of thought provoking books. Your Mom will love this.
An Amazon snippet from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel:
“Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose remarkable gift for companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar’s lifelong friend and ally. Edgar seems poised to carry on his family’s traditions, but when catastrophe strikes, he finds his once-peaceful home engulfed in turmoil.
Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the Sawtelle farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who accompany him, until the day he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.”
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr
No list of thought provoking books would be complete without All the Light We Cannot See. I didn’t want a page to end, let alone he book. It’s set in WW II, one of my favorite periods of history. Please do your Mom a favor and get this book for her.
An Amazon snippet about All the Light We Cannot See:
“From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.”