Posted by: Sarah | May 4, 2012

#FridayReads Tea Party: @RandomHouse Mother’s Day reads, @LitNewEngland Alcott love & a @ParnassusBooks1 rec courtesy of Ann Patchett

My mom’s birthday is within a week of Mother’s Day. Every year my brothers, husband and I debate: Do we buy her two gifts or one?

I’m not sure if expensive Mother’s Day gifts are the staple in other families, but they were not in mine growing up. One year, my younger brother and I made a colorful dessert of Play-Doh and presented it to her on a platter. She thought it marvelous. We’d just taken her out to a fancy birthday/Mother’s Day dinner at Bonanza so a nonedible masterpiece seemed perfect. Later, I remember her patiently rolling up the different colors and putting them back in their plastic jars while we ate Mother’s Day chocolate ice cream with my dad. My mom doesn’t like chocolate ice cream. She likes coconut, but that was never readily available thus… our Play-Doh dessert idea.

I feel slight guilt that my mom has never really had two distinct holidays—that the celebration of her arrival on earth, her accomplishments in each year, and who she is as a strong, inspiration woman is muddled together with the celebration of her “Mom” honorific. I think she deserves two not one. The problem is, we (her children) have never known how to make the distinction—in gifts or practice. Her birthday = honoring our mom’s arrival to the world. Mother’s Day= honoring the woman who brought us into the world.

I thought good and hard about it recently. One of those moments when you take an objective look at how you’ve always done something and contemplated change. Refreshed your mind like an Internet page. Our mom is our mom, but she stopped doting on us long ago. She treats us as respected adults and insightful friends, not as children. Doesn’t she deserve the same in return? Of course she does.

I’m making the push this year. I’m the eldest in my family so my husband and I are leading the charge for my brothers (if only either of them paid my blogs a fig of attention). We’re commemorating two distinct sides of one woman: “E” and “Mom.” I believe it’s important for all mothers to be praised for their nurturing within the home, yes, but also for the women they are apart from it: for their achievements and dreams that have nothing to do with us (their children) and everything to do with them.

So this weekend I’ll raise a toast to Eleane and next weekend to Mommacita.

In preparation of our national salute to mothers, what better gift to give than books? Random House has put together a fabulous list of Mother’s Day novel recommendations, and I’m tickled pink by one in particular. I hope you and your mothers/daughters/sisters/friends enjoy these, too!


I had the privilege of being invited on the Literary New England radio show Monday to chat about The Baker’s Daughter and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Books that share the theme of mothers, daughters and sisters. Click here to listen. It was one of my most favorite chats!

If you’re not familiar with Nashville’s Parnassus Books, I’m honored to introduce you. The incomparable authoress, bookstore owner, and patron saint of literati Ann Patchett writes the bookstore’s blog, and I consider myself a part of the growing flash mob dancing in support. As Ann poignantly explains, she’s not Amazon. She won’t compute your reading taste based on the books you’ve perused. What she will do is give her honest-to-goodness opinion on the books she’s read and liked. Ahh, what an amazing concept: An actually knowledgeable reader providing an actually astute opinion on actually worthy books. Lovely.

Based her recommendation, I picked up Penelope Lively’s How It All Began weeks back. I read the first two chapters and loved it! But I had to put it aside as I promised to read a handful of friends’ galleys. The novel is on my nightstand, beckoning.


This is one of the few times I’ll write about a tea I didn’t fancy. I don’t feel too terrible about admitting this as it’s not a traditional tea. Out of curiosity and heat-induced delirium (90+ degrees in El Paso already), I picked up a package of Nestea Diet Iced Tea from the soda aisle. It has a metallic aftertaste that I find unappealing, so I’m writing myself a mental note:

Dear Sarah, don’t be lazy. Brew the tea in the pitcher, put it in the refrigerator, and your pennies and taste buds will thank you.
Yours truly, Smarter Sarah

 Sarah’s Sipping Summary:

Given my spiel about the arrival of Ann Patchett’s refreshingly genuine opinion to the book community, I think it apropos that I don’t shirk from voicing mine on the tea. Call me old fashioned, but I like a good hearty brew that tastes like the plant it came from… not the alloy of lemon flavorings and preservatives. Same goes for my reading. Cheers, friends! 

 Yours truly, Sarah


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