As a mom of four, I was always too tired to read. Too distracted. Too overwhelmed by everything else I needed to do when I actually had the "time" to read. I could barely eke out a couple pages before passing out each night.
But I missed it. Ever since I cried my way through the end of "Charlotte's Web" at age eight, hiding out in the dark after bedtime in the tiny Jack & Jill bathroom I shared with my little brother, I've been obsessed with books. I was the girl at sleep-away camp reading "Jane Eyre" on the scratchy, wool blanket while my bunkmates strung my counselors' bras from the rafters.
Recently I started a podcast called, "Moms Don't Have Time to Read Books." I interview authors about their work for busy people—like moms!—who want to stay in-the-know. Turning my love of reading into "work" has forced me to do what I love most. (Sneaky, right?!) Over the past nine months, I've interviewed almost 100 authors.
Here are some of my favorite book picks for moms. Why? They're short. Helpful. Easy to consume late at night. Memorable. Funny. And will make any fellow mom feel understood and less alone. Listen to my podcast episodes with these authors to get a taste for their fabulous books.
These super short, tongue-in-cheek poems are easily digestible and hilarious. If you've ever wondered what your husband was doing in the shower with you, read this. John's latest novel, "Talk to Me," is a wonderful, poignant family story about social media, news, and today's society, but start with the poems.
Hillary Frank, the host of award-winning podcast, "The Longest Shortest Time," compiled these wacky, effective parenting suggestions from 300+ listeners across the country. Tips include carrying panty liners to block the automatic flushing sensors on public toilets for sound-phobic kids, "dinner in odd places" nights, and feeding peas from a Pez dispenser.
This slim debut memoir is written so beautifully that I often stopped to reread sentences just to marvel at their eloquence. Sarah's story of taking care of her mother while dealing with her own unraveling marriage should be the sandwich generation's swan song.
Jill's first novel (a Reese's Book Club pick) is easy-to-read, addictive, un-put-downable, and unforgettable. It starts on 9/11 and follows a couple's trajectory through life, marriage, separation, and more. Tearjerker. Her latest novel, "More Than Words," about a woman coping with her father's death, is also amazing and will surely be a bestseller like her first.
Dani Shapiro has been my favorite author for the past 20+ years, but her latest New York Times best-selling memoir is her best work yet. Dani's results from a random DNA kit threw her entire life into disarray and left her struggling for meaning. Raised an Orthodox Jew, her findings challenged everything she thought she knew. This book reads like an edge-of-your-seat thriller. I read it out loud to my husband and we both gasped at the end of every chapter.
KJ gets it. She knows that life with kids (we both have four) isn't all unicorns and rainbows, but she's determined to extract all the joy she can from this stage of life. Instead of just grinning and bearing it, KJ gives relatable, sage advice on how to actually enjoy it. The Introduction made me feel more understood as a parent than any other parenting book. This former editor of the Motherlode blog of the NY Times knows what she's talking about.
In a few short weeks, Nora lost her 35-year-old husband to brain cancer, lost her father, and miscarried her second child. She turned her horrific experience into a funny (yes, really), uplifting, frank, life-affirming memoir. Her second memoir, "No Happy Endings," comes out in March 2019 and is equally fantastic. For anyone who ever had a bad day, read this.
Forget slogging through self-help exercises (or even yoga) to find your own inner happiness. Ingrid's theory is that your visual environment can bring more joy than anything else. Circles. Colors. Playful objects. Being happy doesn't have to be so hard, she argues. Millions of people have watched Ingrid's TED Talk—and agree. Her advice is completely life-changing.
This beautiful children's book was a #1 New York Times best-seller. Illustrated by Peter Reynolds, "I Am Human" show kids—and parents—what it means to love, to move forward from a "blue mood," to help others, and to be connected. It's short, sweet, and so important.
My older kids are 11-year-old twins, yet the advice in this book still helps me as much as in those first bleak post-postpartum days. Lauren's book, which has truly become a movement, shines the light on being a working parent - and even being a functioning adult at all - after having kids. Her advice comes through like she's talking to you over coffee and inspires any mama to ease up on the self-doubt.
Zibby Owens (www.zibbyowens.com) is a writer and the creator/host of podcast, “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.” Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Redbook, Shape, Modern Bride, the Motherlode blog of the New York Times, Huff Post, Scary Mommy, and Kveller among others. She currently lives in New York with her husband and four children.