There may appear to be some unusual recommendations among these selections, but every book will grant insight into your child and into yourself as a mother, often from seemingly unrelated, though compelling, material.
Books Every Mother Should Read:
Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin
Although primarily about animals, very helpful in understanding the human mind.
NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson
Until NurtureShock, I'd gotten my best parenting insights from the All Creatures Great and Small series (by James Herriot) and various, random old ladies.
The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night's Sleep by William C. Dement
Sleep is a great mystery. We all need it and long for it. My birth family harbored a nest of sleep disorders, so naturally, my children partook in the family tradition - hence my interest. This book is big, fat, and far more interesting than a novel. Of particular note, was the information on infant sleep cycles, as well as how to reset the sleep-clock for someone whose circadian rhythms are out of sync with everyone else. The most interesting part, however, and of no particular use, was why so many people think they have been abducted by aliens. Fascinating read!
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Hidden within this book is a thought provoking analysis of parenting styles. We seem to have reared ours with an ethos equal parts "Cracker" and "Harvard". Oh, well. . .
Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer and Deirdre Ducker
An inspirational conception of the family as a work of art, using a mobile as metaphor. Some excellent practical insights, too.
Tiffany's Table Manners for Teenagers by Walter Hoving
If the "Golden Rule" is the Cliff Notes on ethics, this little book is the Cliff Notes on etiquette.
Especially for Mothers of Boys:
Black Beauty (Unabridged) by Anna Sewell
And how is rearing a boy like rearing a high-spirited thoroughbred? Bit of a cautionary tale, so prepare to cry and repent.
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales
Best to deal with your fears now. You can ruin a boy by holding him too tightly.
Especially for Mothers of Girls:
Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
DVDs Every Mother Should See:
Body Story (Discovery); available through Netflix
Even though it made us feel like the ignorant cave dwellers we probably are, this documentary cleared up a lot of mysteries about health and healing; plus, we finally found out how people just die of old age.
Books Every Wife Should Read:
The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Laura Schlessinger
I know Dr. Laura has made a trip or two to the woodshed lately, but she makes some important and valid points on how you can ruin a marriage by holding a man too tightly.
War by Sebastian Junger:
The ultimate peek into the male world. The subject is set in the farthest reaches of the war in Afghanistan and, therefore, the circumstance is extreme. Book contains an overlay of social-biology and new science on how the male-mind functions. Ever wondered why men do the things they do? Ever wondered what an all-male society might look like? Ever admired their courage and sacrificial will to duty? This powerful book shows men as immensely human and radiantly beautiful - all at once.
Solomon on Sex by Joseph C. Dillow
His Needs, Her Needs - Building an Affair-proof Marriage by Willard F. Harley Jr.
The originator of the "emotional bank account" concept (so good you could just work with that!) lists the 5 things each gender chronically complains about in counseling sessions. Caution: If you are a woman, never, ever, read the "Her Needs" part. It will just stimulate emotional scab-picking. Only read the "His Needs" section. (And vice versa for men.) You can only change yourself, not your spouse.