Mom: Words can indeed begin to describe you

May 09, 1999|By SUSAN REIMER

WIFE, MOTHER, sister, daughter, friend, publishing niche. The list of women's roles just got longer. Talk about your multi-tasking.

Motherhood appears to be right up there with the Bible and cookbooks as a publishing industry stalwart. Especially at this time of year.

Seems everybody buys a book for their mother for Mother's Day, proving yet again that nobody is paying any attention to her, because if they were, they would have at least a clue about what she would really like to have as a gift.

A book? How about the time to read it? How about 10 minutes to glance at the dust jacket?

Online bookseller lists 121 motherhood titles published in the first four months of 1999 alone. Just in time for Mother's Day, you'll notice.

"The parenting section of the book store has seen explosive growth," says Susan Weinberg, director of trade paperback publishing for HarperCollins in New York. "The needs, yearnings, the desires for inspiration. The psychological or philosophical or practical."

In addition, publishers and booksellers plan the launch of unrelated titles for this time of year because so many people are in the bookstores looking for a book to give their mother for Mother's Day.

"I saw one promotion that went: ' "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." If your mother doesn't have this book yet, you'd better get it for her,' " says Weinberg.

"People buy the touchy-feely sorts of books for their mothers. But they buy fiction, mysteries and biographies, too," said a spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble.

"Mother's Day sales are definitely ahead of Father's Day sales."

There are motherhood books out there to cover every acre of a woman's emotional landscape, from conception to lingering death from old age.

Here's a sampling of some of the titles out there. I am not making these up.

"How to Mother a Successful Daughter" and "Between Mothers and Sons: Women Writers Talking About Having Sons and Raising Men" and "I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids" and "And Then I Had Kids."

"Mom, I Love You" and "I'm Not Mad, I Just Hate You."

"The Tao of Motherhood" and "The Christian Mom's Answer Book."

"Guilt is Good" and "Guilt-Free Motherhood."

"Chicken Soup for a Mother's Soul" and "Chocolate for a Mother's Heart" and "First Aid for a Mother's Soul with Jewelry."

"Good Daughters: Loving Our Mothers As They Age" and "Believe It or Not, Mama Likes the Nursing Home."

"Did My Mama Like to Dance" and "The Mother Dance."

"Mother's Day 1999" and "No Time for Mother's Day."

It is not all Bible verses, inspirational poetry and gauzy photographs. Two books in particular heralded motherhood as a topic for award-winning writing.

"A Slant of Sun: One Child's Courage," by Beth Kephart, a woman's story of her learning-disabled son, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1998. And "Fruitful: A Real Mother in the Modern World," by Anne Roiphe, a polemic about what feminism has done to mothering, was a finalist in 1996.

Both were said to be well-crafted and intellectual meditations on being a mother.

I can't say. I didn't have time to read them.

Pub Date: 05/09/99

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