The best books about the non-Instagrammable parts of motherhood

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was pregnant for the first time, I knew exactly the sort of mother I was going to be. I had read all the articles, bookmarked all the tastefully filtered Instagram posts. But then I had my son, and I realized almost immediately how little I knew. It turns out that while those tender Instagram moments do happen (and they truly are magic), there are just as many moments that can only be described as: WTF? My novel, The Perfect Ones, goes deep behind the screens of two Instagram influencers and their messy, conflicting, and fundamentally human feelings on motherhood. Here are five more books about the parts that don’t make the Instagram grid.

I wrote...

The Perfect Ones

By Nicole Hackett,

Book cover of The Perfect Ones

What is my book about?

Two days after embarking on a promotional trip to Iceland, Instagram influencer Alabama Wood goes missing. With no leads, the Icelandic police start their investigation by focusing on the two influencers seemingly closest to Alabama on the trip: Celeste Reed, Alabama’s best friend of ten years, and Hollie Goodwin, fitness guru, and Alabama’s unwilling idol.

As secrets are revealed and loyalties are tested, it becomes clear that both Hollie and Celeste have been lying since long before Alabama’s disappearance. It’s how they’ve adapted to a life online. The question is: do we really control our online image, or does it control us?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The School for Good Mothers

Nicole Hackett Why did I love this book?

The School for Good Mothers follows Frida, a Chinese immigrant to the US, after a “very bad day” that lands her at a state-run facility for bad mothers.

As a mom, I found much of this book difficult to read. (I’m not usually a crier, but this one got me.) And yet, despite this (or maybe because of it), it is one of my favorite books of the past few years. It forces you to consider what makes a “good mother” and whether we have created a standard that no woman can live up to.

By Jessamine Chan,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The School for Good Mothers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'A taut and propulsive take on the cult of motherhood and the notion of what makes a good mother. Destined to be feminist classic - it kept me up at night' PANDORA SYKES
'A haunting tale of identity and motherhood - as devastating as it is imaginative' AFUA HIRSCH
'Incredibly clever, funny and pertinent to the world we're living in at the moment' DAISY JOHNSON

'We have your daughter'

Frida Liu is a struggling mother. She remembers taking Harriet from her cot and changing her nappy. She remembers…

Book cover of The Husbands

Nicole Hackett Why did I love this book?

The Husbands is not marketed as a “mom book,” but as a mother of young children, I saw so much of my own life on the pages.

The story follows Nora Spangler, an overworked attorney who is pregnant with her second child, as she digs into a wrongful-death lawsuit centered on a fatal house fire. The story teems with drama between the mystery of the fire and the motives for its potential coverup, but my favorite part of the book is how Baker gives voice to the things we as mothers “aren’t supposed” to say.

By Chandler Baker,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Husbands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A howl of feminist rage, but also one that is pure fun' Stylist

The wives here are different. They are living proof that women can have it all: successful careers, loving families, beautiful homes.
Their husbands are different too. They are living proof that men can do just as much as women. They can remember the kids' schedules, use an iron and notice when the house needs dusting.
Nora thinks she's found the perfect new home for her family. But when she agrees to get involved in a wrongful death case in the neighbourhood, Nora becomes convinced that there's a…

Book cover of Apples Never Fall

Nicole Hackett Why did I love this book?

Full discloser: Liane Moriarty could write a book about lawn fertilizer, and I’d probably read it.

All of her books achieve that elusive balance between sincerity and laugh-out-loud humor, and this is no exception. The story revolves around the disappearance of Joy Delaney, a mother to four adult children and retired owner of Delaney Tennis Academy.

My favorite part of the book (and there are many!) is the glimpse into Joy’s inner life as a seasoned mother, which is different from yet fundamentally similar to my own experience as a young mom.

By Liane Moriarty,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Apples Never Fall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller

From Liane Moriarty, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers, comes Apples Never Fall, a novel that looks at marriage, siblings, and how the people we love the most can hurt us the deepest.

The Delaney family love one another dearly―it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in…

Book cover of Mom Genes: Inside the New Science of Our Ancient Maternal Instinct

Nicole Hackett Why did I love this book?

I normally gravitate toward fiction, so this one came out of left field for me.

Abigail Tucker, a correspondent for Smithsonian magazine, dives deep into the science of what makes a mother. I think I enjoyed this book so much because it almost reads like fiction between its accessible (and surprisingly funny!) tone and the stranger-than-fiction revelations about what happens to a woman’s brain when she becomes a mom.

By Abigail Tucker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mom Genes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Lion in the Living Room comes a fascinating and provocative exploration of the biology of motherhood that "is witty, reassuring, and takes motherhood out of the footnotes and places it front and center-where it belongs" (Louann Brizendine, MD, New York Times bestselling author).

Everyone knows how babies are made, but scientists are only just beginning to understand the making of a mother. Mom Genes reveals the hard science behind our tenderest maternal impulses, tackling questions such as why mothers are destined to mimic their own moms (or not), how maternal aggression…

Book cover of He Said He Would Be Late

Nicole Hackett Why did I love this book?

This novel does the very scary thing of looking postpartum directly in the eye.

It follows new mom Liz Bennet along her increasingly unhinged search for clues about her husband’s suspected infidelity. Most moms (hopefully!) won’t relate to Liz’s specific situation, but Justine Sullivan paints a terrifyingly realistic portrait of the madness of those first years of new motherhood.

By Justine Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked He Said He Would Be Late as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Liz Bennett knows that she is one of the lucky ones. Wealthy and charming, Arno is a supportive husband to Liz and a doting father to their daughter, Emma. A rising banker at a top firm in the Boston area, he is the picture of perfection, rounding off their idyllic New England life. But when Liz sees a text on Arno's phone with a kissy-face emoji, her anxiety kicks into overdrive and she begins to worry that her luck has run out.

Plagued by persistent skepticism and countless sleepless nights, Liz decides she must uncover the truth about her husband…

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Magical Disinformation

By Lachlan Page,

Book cover of Magical Disinformation

Lachlan Page Author Of Magical Disinformation

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in Latin America for six years, working as a red cross volunteer, a volcano hiking guide, a teacher, and an extra in a Russian TV series (in Panama). Having travelled throughout the region and returning regularly, I’m endlessly fascinated by the culture, history, politics, languages, and geography. Parallel to this, I enjoy reading and writing about the world of international espionage. Combining the two, and based on my own experience, I wrote my novel, Magical Disinformation, a spy novel set in Colombia. While there is not a huge depth of spy novels set in Latin America, I’ve chosen five of my favourites spy books set in the region.

Lachlan's book list on spy books set in Latin America

What is my book about?

This book is a spy novel with a satirical edge which will take you on a heart-pumping journey through the streets, mountains, jungles, and beaches of Colombia. Our Man in Havana meets A Clear and Present Danger.

Magical Disinformation

By Lachlan Page,

What is this book about?

In the era of ‘fake news’ in the land of magical realism, fiction can be just as dangerous as the truth... Discover Lachlan Page’s Magical Disinformation: a spy novel with a satirical edge set amongst the Colombian peace process. Described by one reviewer as “Our Man in Havana meets A Clear and Present Danger.”

Oliver Jardine is a spy in Colombia, enamoured with local woman Veronica Velasco.

As the Colombian government signs a peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas, Her Majesty’s Government decides a transfer is in order to focus on more pertinent theatres of operation.

In a desperate attempt…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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