All the inspiration, motivation and entertainment you need.
We might still be stuck at home in 2021, but at least working moms can look forward to a stellar lineup of books to keep us company. Next year’s crop of rich, relatable dramas and smart non-fiction will inspire you to lead with courage at work and parent with confidence at home–and even learn to love doing laundry. (Trust us.) Here are our faves:
1. The Family Firm by Emily Oster
Our favorite source of data-driven parenting wisdom, economist Emily Oster is back with a framework for navigating the anxiety-inducing issues of the elementary school years–from finding the right school and picking the proper extracurricular activities to getting your kids to eat their darn veggies. (Is it really worth the fight?) Merging a business approach with her trademark empowering voice, Emily dispenses the stress-less advice you actually want ($25, amazon.com).
2. Justice, Justice Thou Shalt Pursue: A Life’s Work Fighting for a More Perfect Union by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Amanda L. Tyler
Three weeks before she died, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her co-author and former law clerk, Berkeley Law Professor Amanda L. Tyler, submitted the final manuscript for this collection of the opinions, arguments, interviews and speeches that the Supreme Court justice and women’s rights icon hand-selected to best capture her legacy. We’re so glad we have this last glimpse of her groundbreaking life and work ($20, amazon.com).
3. The Push by Ashley Audrain
This dazzling debut mixes page-turning suspense with a psychological drama that dives into “the darkest nooks and crannies of motherhood,” according to author Kristin Hannah (also on our list). When new mom Blythe struggles to bond with her baby girl, her husband says the problems are in her head–but are they? ($18, amazon.com)
4. License to Parent: How My Career As a Spy Helped Me Raise Resourceful, Self-Sufficient Kids by Christina Hillsberg with Ryan Hillsberg
If Mr. and Mrs. Smith had kids and wrote a parenting book, this is what’d you get: a practical guide for how to utilize key spy tactics to teach kids important life skills–from self-defense to effective communication to conflict resolution. The authors, who have both worked for the CIA, apply their spy tradecraft to tackling one of the most difficult missions: raising confident kids ($26, amazon.com).
5. Think Like a Breadwinner: A Wealth-Building Manifesto for Women Who Want to Earn More (And Worry Less) by Jennifer Barrett
Nearly half of working women in the United States are now their household’s main breadwinner–yet we’ve been conditioned to feel reluctant and unprepared to manage the role. Not anymore. Financial expert Jennifer Barrett is here to teach you how to ditch your own biases, start building your wealth and pursuing your full earning potential ($26, amazon.com).
6. The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs
You likely know that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin all played a pivotal role in the fight for civil rights–now you can learn about the women who taught them how to survive in a society who denied them dignity from birth. This biography of their extraordinary moms, Alberta King, Louise Little and Berdis Baldwin, is both a celebration of Black motherhood and a how-to on raising resilient, visionary heroes ($29, amazon.com).
7. To Raise a Boy: Classrooms, Locker Rooms, Bedrooms, and the Hidden Struggles of American Boyhood by Emma Brown
Washington Post reporter Emma Brown was at home nursing her 6-week-old son when the #MeToo movement erupted. Fueled by the question “How will I raise my son to be better?,” she interviewed hundreds of coaches, educators, researchers, parents and boys themselves, to create this urgent, clear-eyed indictment of the ways we are failing young men–and how we can do better ($27, amazon.com).
8. That Summer by Jennifer Weiner
If you’ve ever fantasized about slipping into the life of your fabulously single friend, you’ll love Jennifer Weiner’s latest deliciously twisty beach read: Despite running a thriving cooking business, working mom Daisy Shoemaker can’t shake her restlessness. A weird coincidence introduces her to Diana Starling, a sophisticated power broker whose kid-free life seems like a glamorous reprieve. As the two become closer, they discover their connection was not completely accidental ($15, amazon.com).
9. The Working Mother Ultimate Guide to Working From Home: How to Survive in Your Job, Care for Your Kids, and Stay Sane
Pardon us for a little self-promotion, but if you’re in need of a no-nonsense guide to managing remote work while raising kids (which is a lot of us these days), then look no further than our handy how-to. It features all of the best advice from Working Mother‘s trusted team of writers and editors, including our COVID coverage that ranked in the top 20 of all lifestyle brands for engagement on Facebook ($15, amazon.com).
10. Sanctuary by Emily Rapp Black
After her first child, a boy named Ronan, died from Tay-Sachs disease before he turned 3-years-old, Emily Rapp Black penned a poignant bestselling memoir, The Still Point of the Turning World, about a mother’s journey through grief and beyond it. Now remarried and mom to a healthy daughter, Sanctuary is a raw, vulnerable examination of resilience and living with both loss and joy–a theme that will resonate with moms of rainbow babies everywhere ($27, amazon.com).
11. Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Teach Us about the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Healthy, Little Humans by Michaeleen Doucleff, Ph.D.
You’ve read books about parenting by French moms and Scandinavian moms, but have you thought about learning a few tricks from early humans? No joke. Michaeleen Doucleff, Ph.D., a correspondent for NPR’s Science Desk, thinks our ancestors may hold the answers to how to naturally master parenting where our modern theories (and frantic over-parenting) have failed ($26, amazon.com).
12. The Price You Pay for College: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make by Rob Lieber
If you have a teen headed for college in a few years, you literally can’t afford to skip this candid guide by The New York Times‘ “Your Money” columnist Ron Lieber. He grills college presidents and financial aid gatekeepers to answer all your biggest questions about the right ways to save, borrow and bargain for a better deal ($28, amazon.com).
13. Are We There Yet? By Kathleen West
Fans of Liane Moriarty of Big Little Lies fame will love Are We There Yet?, a heartfelt and thought-provoking drama about the trials and tribulations of modern suburban motherhood. Alice Sullivan thinks she’s got it all figured out until the day her middle school son is accused of bullying and then her mom unloads a long-buried family secret. Now that Alice is not the “perfect” mom, who is she? ($18, amazon.com)
14. Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore by Patric Richardson with Karin B. Miller
No one loathes laundry as much as working moms, but that doesn’t seem to make the mountains of it disappear. So we’re all for tips on saving time, fighting stains, removing wrinkles and, best of all, turning the task into an enjoyable endeavor, especially from Patric Richardson, A.K.A. the “Laundry Evangelist” ($20, amazon.com).
15. Parent Like It Matters: How to Raise Joyful, Change-Making Girls by Janice Johnson Dias, Ph.D.
Sociologist Janice Johnson Dias, Ph.D., is the mom of teen activist Marley Dias, the youngest person to appear on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list at age 13, recipient of the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award, an executive producer and the host of the Netflix series Bookmarks, and the founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks, a successful campaign to collect and donate 1,000 books that feature Black girls as the main character. (Now the goal is 1 million). So if there’s anyone we trust to teach us about raising change-making girls, it’s Janice. (Hint, Mom: It’s about finding your own joy too.) ($20, amazon.com)
16. Run to Win: Lessons in Leadership for Women Changing the World by Stephanie Schriock, with Christina Reynolds
Penned by the president of EMILY’s List, an organization that helps pro-choice Democratic women get elected, this guidebook to campaigning is about so much more than running for office (though we sincerely hope you do)–it’s also essential reading for any woman trying to succeed in a male-dominated field. If that’s not enough incentive, the foreword is written by VP-Elect Kamala Harris ($27, amazon.com).
17. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Elsa Martinelli is a mom struggling to survive in 1934 Texas during one of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, as a drought sweeps the Great Plains. She’s faced with an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves, or go west to California in search of a better life? It’s a perfect saga of determination and courage for our similarly troubled times ($26, amazon.com).
18. Power Moms: How Executive Mothers Navigate Work and Life by Joann S. Lublin
If you’ve ever wondered just how high-powered moms manage it all, Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal career columnist Joann S. Lublin interviewed more than 86 managerial mothers (including Marissa Mayer and Mindy Grossman) for this candid glimpse at their struggles, joys and regrets. She also explores what’s changed for GenXers versus Boomers, and provides plenty of insights for women at any stage of their career climb ($30, amazon.com).
19. You Look Tired: An Excruciatingly Honest Guide to New Parenthood by Jenny True
Romper advice columnist Jenny Pritchett (A.K.A. Jenny True) brings her signature mix of humor, rage, disbelief and encouragement–as well as a smidgeon of practical advice–to this laugh-out-loud look at the early parenting years ($24, amazon.com).
20. Connect: Building Exceptional Relationships with Family, Friends, and Colleagues by David Bradford, Ph.D. and Carole Robin, Ph.D.
David Bradford and Carole Robin taught interpersonal skills to M.B.A. candidates for a combined 75 years at Stanford and have coached and consulted hundreds of executives for decades. Now you can learn their research-backed methods to deal productively with conflict and cultivate fulfilling and meaningful relationships–without paying the Stanford price tag ($28, amazon.com).
21. Moms Don’t Have Time to: A Quarantine Anthology, edited by Zibby Owens
Need some motivation to make it through the last months of the pandemic? (Fingers crossed.) Check out these moving essays by mothers who struggled but eventually found time to eat, read, work out, breathe and have sex. You know, the little things! The collection is edited by mom of four Zibby Owens, host of the award-winning podcast Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books ($25, amazon.com).
All the inspiration, motivation and entertainment you need.
We checked out the best reads of 2021 and picked our faves just for working moms.