Great Memoirs for New Moms

shelved under Parenting and Expert Opinions

These are the books I’d give a woman at her first child’s baby shower. They’re the ones I passed on to my sister and best friend when they got pregnant. These are the books that most helped me transition from fabulous single gal to Mommy.


Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood

by Naomi Wolf

This book is on the only one to appear on both my memoirs list and my “essential reading for pregnancy” list. It starts with the story of Wolf’s own pregnancy, the birth of her daughter, and her early days as a mom... interwoven with her tale are the stories of her friends and colleagues, and a lot of research about modern birth practices, parenting habits and marriage. It’s a rich read. There are days when I think this book saved my marriage by warning me about some of the bumps in the road ahead.


Atlas of the Human Heart: A Memoir

by Ariel Gore

Gore, the author the Hip Mama zine and books, is probably my favorite writer on parenting. In this book-length memoir, she movingly shares the tale of her own wild youth, her surprise pregnancy and her decision to become a single mom at 18. It’s as wonderful as Gore’s writing always is.


The Mother Trip: Hip Mama's Guide to Staying Sane in the Chaos of Motherhood

by Ariel Gore, illustrated by Ellen Forney

Because I love her so much, I had to put one more of Gore’s books on this list. The Mother Trip is a collection of bite-size essays on topics ranging from how to stay politically active while raising a kid to Gore’s realization that a housekeeper would do her more good than a therapist. I kept this book on the nightstand next to my bed during my first year of motherhood so I could flip through it while nursing, and it was a lifesaver.


Guarding the Moon: A Mother's First Year

by Francesca Lia Block

I admit half the reason I love this book is because I’ve loved Block’s writing since I was a kid reading Weetzie Bat in the stacks at the local library. The other half is that her memoir is a sweet, lyrical gem of a mother’s first year. That time can be like a drop of water on a rose petal, and Block captures it on the page.


A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother

by Rachel Cusk

Where “Guarding the Moon” is a love song, Cusk’s book is more of a cry for help. It’s also an incredible relief for a new mother going through the flashes of agony, anger and confusion new moms almost invariably go through. Cusk puts the hard parts of the journey into words, and does so with grace, humor and strength.


Lessons in Taxidermy: A Compendium of Safety and Danger

by Bee Lavender

This memoir of her accidental pregnancy and decision to raise a daughter alone stands out for its candor, clarity and refusal to play into stereotypes. Lavender, who publishes the HipMama website, is a quirky, unusual woman, and her book stands out for being as original as she is.


Giving Birth: A Journey Into the World of Mothers and Midwives

by Catherine Taylor

Like “Misconceptions”, Taylor’s book blends research with personal memoir. Taylor focuses entirely on her quest to learn more about midwifery care, and in the process her own pregnancy and home birth. It’s a must-read for anyone planning a home birth, and a fascinating, personal look into the birth industry.


Gift from the Sea

by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Written late in her life, when her five living children were grown, Lindbergh’s memories of raising a family transcend the stuff of “mommy memoirs.” This short, simple book drips with wisdom and quiet grace. It’s a wonderful book to read, and re-read, when the first rushing tide of motherhood has passed out and in the quiet that follows you realize this tiny person is there to stay.