Looking for your next good fiction read? These old-fashioned, classic novels every mom should read feature strong female heroines who are an example to mothers today.
Guest post by Elsie of Tea and Ink Society
For many moms, reading is a pastime of a bygone era. We have such busy, full lives with running our homes, businesses, and caring for our families that many of us simply can’t find the time to read any more.
I firmly believe that we must make time to read. If we wait for the perfect reading time, we’ll simply never find it in the midst of our busy days. And reading time is absolutely worth carving out.
A few years after college, I found myself terribly missing books and wondering if I’d ever be a true bookworm again. I felt like something was lacking in my life. So I started watching less TV in the evenings, checked out more books, and re-discovered the soul-nourishing benefits of reading fiction.
And now? By being intentional about re-cultivating this habit, I’m reading now more than ever, in spite of being busy mom! After reviving my own reading life, I channeled my passion into a blog and community for the literary woman. I want to see women reading more!
If it’s been a while since you finished a book–and even longer since you read a good novel–let me encourage you to embrace this productive, life-giving form of self care. Here are seven novels that are perfect for moms! All of these are old-fashioned classics, although some of them are no longer well known. I love them because they transport me to another time and place…but also because they contain so much wisdom that I can actually apply to make me a better mother.
If you’re not a mom, of course you should still check these out! If a book is well written, as these are, it can speak to us at any stage of life.
So brew yourself a cup of tea, get comfy in your chair, and dive into one of these novels tonight!
7 Classic Fiction Picks for Moms
1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Did you grow up reading Little Women? If you did, I’m sure you could pick out which sister you were the most like! I thought I was Jo, but ended up being more a mix of Meg and Amy. Re-reading the novel as an adult, however, I paid a lot more attention to Marmee. Marmee is the heroine that holds all the other characters together. With her boundless wisdom and patience she’s an example not just for her daughters but for women and mothers today.
Related: If you love Little Women, you might enjoy my post on The Little Women Guide to Homemaking, and my review of the recent BBC miniseries adaptation of the book!
2. Stepping Heavenward by E. Prentiss
If you’ve ever sung the hymn “More Love to Thee, O Christ,” then you’ve already had an introduction to Elizabeth Prentiss, who penned the words in 1856. Prentiss was also a novelist, and Stepping Heavenward is her most well-known work. The novel is written as the journal of Katy Mortimer, whom we first meet at 16. We get an intimate, relatable look at Katy’s mind and heart as she struggles and matures through her teenage years and into marriage and motherhood. This is a book you’ll want to give to your daughters–and treasure on your own as well!
3. Anne of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery
Many of us know and love Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, either because we grew up with the book or we watched Kevin Sullivan’s excellent miniseries. But how well do you know Anne Blythe? Montgomery completed eight novels in the Anne series–and half of them take place after Anne’s marriage! Anne of Ingleside, book six, is a particularly lovely book to read as a mother. Anne is fully immersed in motherhood by this time. It’s delightful to watch her interactions with her family and the way she navigates her very full life in Four Winds.
Related: If you love the Anne books, you’ll love Erin’s post on What Anne of Green Gables Taught me About Being a Homemaker! Also, here’s how to be an L. M. Montgomery heroine in a 21st-century world.
4. Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Although Ma Ingalls faces very different challenges than women today, there’s a lot to emulate in how she handles them. We may not face swarms of locusts, prairie fires, and curious bears, but we can certainly adopt her ability to roll with the punches and make the best of any situation.
5. Mary Emma and Company by Ralph Moody
If you wish there were more books like Little House on the Prairie, the Little Britches series should be your next read! These autobiographical novels cover Ralph Moody’s childhood and early manhood at the start of the 1900s. Moms will especially resonate with Mary Emma and Company (book 4 in the series), when Ralph’s mother comes into her own as a character. We see her strength as a woman as she works to build a new life for her family in a new city. Mary Emma encounters numerous hardships and discouragements. Despite that, she remains an anchor for her family and an example of grit and grace.
6. Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Lillian Gilbreth was an “efficiency expert,” and one of the first female engineers to earn a Ph.D. She contributed to the scientific community in a number of ways–but perhaps her greatest achievement was raising thirteen children! This heartwarming, hilarious book will have you wishing you had an enormous family, too. Or thanking your lucky stars that you don’t! Or maybe both.
7. Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther
This vintage classic gives you a peek into British middle class life on the brink of World War II. Mrs. Miniver–who happens to be one of my favourite literary heroines–shares her reflections on daily life with plenty of wit and whimsy. Reading her first-person narrative will make you notice and appreciate your own life a little more.
The chapters originally appeared as short columns in The Times, but were published in book form in 1939. It stirred American sympathies so much that Roosevelt and Churchill both gave the book credit for hastening U.S. involvement in the war! Because of its short, episodic format, this book makes perfect pre-bed reading.
The next time you need a good book to read, I hope you’ll treat yourself to one of these. Motherhood is rewarding but hard work. Sometimes a good book is just the thing we need for refreshment! As Anne prays in Anne of Ingleside, “Dear God.…help all mothers everywhere. We need so much help, with the little sensitive, loving hearts and minds that look to us for guidance and love and understanding.” Not only do these books give us refreshment, but they supply us with practical encouragement to face our day-to-day challenges.
And that’s a beautiful legacy to take part in.
Do you make time for reading? What do you think are the novels every mom should read?
You might also enjoy these posts:
The Real Reason You’re Not Reading as Much as You Should Be (and how to read more as an adult)
How I Find Time to Read as a Busy Homemaker
Erin’s Bookshelf also contains dozens of Erin’s top book recommendations for nonfiction, memoirs, parenting, and more!
I love this list! These are some of my favorite titles. Little Women would be at the top of my list as well.
They’re books that get better with each read!
Love this, Elsie! I’ve read Little Women more than twice and I’m loving it even more 🙂 I’d keep this list and will find the other books to read.
Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome! Happy reading!
I am getting back into reading this year and loving it. I’ve read half of these, but maybe I’ll see if there’s a Kindle version of Mrs. Miniver…
That’s awesome, April! Welcome back to reading(: It was a rediscovered joy for me, too. Mrs. Miniver is such a treasure…you are in for a treat!
Thank you, Elsie! This is a great list with some I haven’t gotten to or even heard of yet. I always appreciate your recommendations.