The most recommended homemaker books

Who picked these books? Meet our 15 experts.

15 authors created a book list connected to homemaker, and here are their favorite homemaker books.
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What type of homemaker book?


Book cover of The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi

Coirle Mooney Author Of My Lady's Shadow: Power and intrigue in Medieval France

From the list on escape the everyday into sensuous landscapes.

Who am I?

In the Spring of 2006, I went to the south of France searching for troubadours. It was my MA year and my thesis was looking at the influence of the courtly love tradition on Chaucer’s writing. Troubadours (and the female, trobairitz) were nowhere to be found. The closest I came was a café named Le Troubadour. However, evidence of their lyrics was there in the beauty and lushness of Languedoc in spring. I'm always drawn to the poetry, landscapes, and love stories of the past and have experienced how these connections enrich my life. I've completed a PhD in seventeenth-century literature and become an historical fiction novelist and a devotee of history and historical fiction. 

Coirle's book list on escape the everyday into sensuous landscapes

Why did Coirle love this book?

This dual timeline novel is based on the transformative relationship between the 13th-century love poet, Rumi, his contemporary wandering dervish, Shams of Tabriz, and a twenty-first-century homemaker who alters her life based on their teachings and the intensity of their bond.

The author weaves these characters into a narrative that celebrates love in all its forms as the most powerful force of nature. This book features fictionalized characterisation of real personages, as well as presenting a variety of other characters representing humanity in all its greatness and ugliness. Philosophical and thought-provoking, this book deepened my life.   

By Elif Shafak,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The international bestseller from the author of the Booker-shortlisted novel, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, The Forty Rules of Love is part of our Penguin Essentials series which spotlights the very best of our modern classics

*One of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped the World'*

"Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven't loved enough..."

Ella Rubinstein has a husband, three teenage children, and a pleasant home. Everything that should make her confident and fulfilled. Yet there is…

Forever, Erma

By Erma Bombeck,

Book cover of Forever, Erma

Jeanne Skartsiaris Author Of Dance Like You Mean It

From the list on women balancing life and family.

Who am I?

Laughing through the storm, really? It sounds so romantic. Creativity beckons like a muse, I enjoy writing, painting, and daydreaming. But honestly, I imagine creativity more than actually completing the idea. Having a day job and writing novels is a bit Sisyphean. I can see the dream fulfilled at the end, but may get smushed on the way up. I’m so grateful I’ve been published but it adds another layer of worry. How do I get my book out there? What if nobody likes it? A writer puts their soul into the pages and we pray that a reader loves the story and characters as much as the writer does. 

Jeanne's book list on women balancing life and family

Why did Jeanne love this book?

Erma was a genius at tapping family emotions while making you laugh. A timeless treasure. I keep Forever, Erma near me so I can pick it up and read a few of her essays. She always makes me smile. She nails family life with humor and grace. She makes me laugh and cry. Though written many years ago, her stories are still timely.

By Erma Bombeck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A collection of newspaper columns by the late humorist, including her first and last, deal with children, marriage, food, and holiday entertaining, and are accompanied by a chapter of tributes from her friends.

Book cover of The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

Lisa Black Author Of Red Flags

From Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Nice (translation: boring) Reluctant exerciser Travel junkie Secretive

Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Lisa love this book?

This was my first Grady Hendrix, and my first "vampire book" since Anne Rice’s. It’s the story of what a genteel housewife in a proper suburb does when a man she considers dangerous moves to town.

Forget convincing her husband if she can’t even convince her best buds: the women with wildly varied personalities and wildly varied backgrounds in her book club. This book is by turns poignant, heartbreaking, terrifying, and laugh-out-loud hilarious. 

By Grady Hendrix,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This funny and fresh take on a classic tale manages to comment on gender roles, racial disparities, and white privilege all while creeping me all the way out. So good."-Zakiya Dalila Harris, author of The Other Black Girl

Now in paperback, Steel Magnolias meets Dracula in this New York Times best-selling horror novel about a women's book club that must do battle with a mysterious newcomer to their small Southern town.

Bonus features:
* Reading group guide for book clubs
* Hand-drawn map of Mt. Pleasant
* Annotated true-crime reading list by Grady Hendrix
* And more!

Patricia Campbell's life…

Forbidden Notebook

By Alba de Céspedes, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Book cover of Forbidden Notebook: A Novel

Gita Ralleigh Author Of The Destiny of Minou Moonshine

From Gita's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Poet Doctor Mother of teenagers Devoted aunty

Gita's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Gita love this book?

This is a book you will love or hate. I loved it and found it frighteningly relatable despite being originally published in Italy in the 1950s.

Forbidden Notebook, newly translated into English, is an intimate, almost claustrophobic, account of how our protagonist, Valeria, begins writing her thoughts and feelings in a notebook, which she keeps hidden. Only in the act of hiding it does she realize that she has nowhere of her own in the shared family apartment, and only by writing does she gain a sense of her own self after years devoted to her family.

To quote the poet Muriel Rukeyser, "What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open." And for Valeria, it does.

By Alba de Céspedes, Ann Goldstein (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Powerful." -The New Yorker
"Brilliant." -The Wall Street Journal
"Astounding." -NPR
"Forceful, clear and morally engaged." -The Washington Post
"Subversive." -The New York Times Book Review
"An exquisite, tormented howl." -The Financial Times
"Quick, propulsive, and addictive." -Los Angeles Review of Books
"Gripping." -Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A remarkable story." -Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
"Wrenching, sardonic." -Kirkus (starred review)
"As relevant today as it was in postwar Italy." -Shelf Awareness (starred review)

"In her diary de Cespedes confides, "I will never be a great writer." Here I take her to task for not knowing something about herself-for she was a great…

Mrs. Caliban

By Rachel Ingalls,

Book cover of Mrs. Caliban

R.H. Emmers Author Of Lynerkim's Dance and Other Stories

From the list on stories you should read (but probably haven’t).

Who am I?

I’ve always been attracted to the overlooked, the obscure, the forbidden. Maybe it’s as simple as the fact I grew up in a time when it seemed natural to rebel against norms. Or maybe it’s that I inherited an oddball gene from some ancient ancestor. Anyway, it led me to interesting adventures—hanging out with a crew of gun runners in eastern Turkey—and interesting career choices—strike organizer, private detective, etc. It also shaped my reading and my writing. I read everything, but I’m particularly drawn to the quirkyGrendel, the fiction of Christine Rivera Garza for instance. And in my writing too: Lynerkim, the protagonist of my novella, is undoubtedly an odd duck.

R.H.'s book list on stories you should read (but probably haven’t)

Why did R.H. love this book?

And speaking of whacky, we come now to this 40-year-old story of a lonely suburban housewife, Dorothy, who undertakes a romance with a sea monster named Larry, an escapee from a research institute who shows up in her kitchen one day. That sounds like the plot of a weird B-movie, but in fact the novella is a work of feminist literature while also being a heartbreaking story of two characters who find themselves unable to escape their pasts but manage to achieve a species of healing. The writing is straightforward but conceals a great deal, an important lesson for me when I first read this.

By Rachel Ingalls,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the quiet suburbs, while Dorothy is doing chores and waiting for her husband to come home from work, not in the least anticipating romance, she hears a strange radio announcement about a monster who has just escaped from the Institute for Oceanographic Research... Reviewers have compared Rachel Ingalls's Mrs. Caliban to King Kong, Edgar Allan Poe's stories, the films of David Lynch, Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, E.T., Richard Yates's domestic realism, B-horror movies, and the fairy tales of Angela Carter-how such a short novel could contain all of these disparate elements is a testament to…


By Judy Blume,

Book cover of Wifey

Debby Dodds Author Of Amish Guys Don't Call

From the list on serious subjects that are also hilariously funny.

Who am I?

In my first career as an actress, I often got cast as the “comic relief” in more serious films and plays. I cut my acting chops on improv comedy before getting my BFA in drama from NYU and performing in everything from Shakespeare to Seinfeld. I wrote and performed in stage shows at Disneyland and Disney World and screamed myself hoarse in B-horror films. As an author, I like to write about serious topics but I just can’t help being funny. I received my MFA from Antioch University and have had over 30 short stories and essays published. While I read voraciously (and genre-indiscriminately), my favorite books are often “darkly comedic” or “funny yet poignant.”

Debby's book list on serious subjects that are also hilariously funny

Why did Debby love this book?

I first came across this book when babysitting at a neighbor’s house as a young teen. I was a giant Judy Blume fangirl and I was confused. I thought I’d read all of her novels. When I picked this one up, I managed to find a “dirty part” quite quickly while flipping through it and I stole the book to show that passage to all my friends. Scandalous! When I was out of college, I actually read the whole book and found it a poignant, but still funny, look at dreams deferred, marriage, motherhood, and sex.

By Judy Blume,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With more than four million copies sold, Wifey is Judy Blume's hilarious, moving tale of a woman who trades in her conventional wifely duties for her wildest fantasies-and learns a lot about life along the way.

Sandy Pressman is a nice suburban wife whose boredom is getting the best of her. She could be making friends at the club, like her husband keeps encouraging her to do. Or working on her golf game. Or getting her hair done.

But for some reason, these things don't interest her as much as the naked man on the motorcycle...

Book cover of The Obituary Writer

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer Author Of Bear Medicine

From the list on bad ass women in historical fiction.

Who am I?

Landscape is always important in my writing, and Yellowstone, which I’ve visited numerous times, is such a special place, rich with geodiversity and teeming with danger, that it kind of demanded to be a setting for my novel. I’ve also always been kind of obsessed with bears, and Yellowstone is grizzly country. But I didn’t want to write the stereotypical “man against nature” book. I’m too much of a feminist for that. 

G.'s book list on bad ass women in historical fiction

Why did G. love this book?

I love how, as with my novel, the writer weaves together the stories of two women who lived in entirely different eras. I also appreciate how she brought real-world people and events, like JFK and the 1906 earthquake, into her fictional world. But what I found most evocative about The Obituary Writer were the author’s portrayal of the institution of marriage and how her “older” protagonist—the one dating further back in history—dedicated her life to helping others deal with grief and loss. This altruistic passion was similar to one that my historical protagonist discovered on her journey of personal growth.

By Ann Hood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Obituary Writer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the day John F. Kennedy is inaugurated, Claire, obsessed with the glamour of Jackie O, struggles over the decision of whether to stay in a loveless marriage or follow the man she loves and whose baby she may be carrying. Decades earlier, in 1919, Vivien Lowe, an obituary writer, is searching for her lover who disappeared in the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. By telling the stories of the dead, Vivien not only helps others cope with their grief but also begins to understand the devastation of her own terrible loss. The surprising connection between Claire and Vivien will…

More Work for Mother

By Ruth Schwartz Cowan,

Book cover of More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave

Carroll Pursell Author Of The Machine in America: A Social History of Technology

From the list on technology interacting with American society.

Who am I?

I've been teaching and writing in the field of the history of technology for over six decades, and it's not too much to say that the field and my professional career grew up together. The Society for the History of Technology began in 1958, and its journal, Technology and Culture, first appeared the following year. I've watched, and helped encourage, a broadening of the subject from a rather internal concentration on machines and engineering to a widening interest in technology as a social activity with cultural and political, as well as economic, outcomes. In my classes I always assigned not only original documents and scholarly monographs but also memoirs, literature, and films.

Carroll's book list on technology interacting with American society

Why did Carroll love this book?

It is hardly news that housework is gendered. But in this classic study Cowan, by taking housewifery seriously as work and kitchen utensils and appliances seriously as technologies, opens up the whole panorama of production and consumption in a domestic setting. The influx of new appliances, and in a more convenient form old materials (such as powdered soap) in the early decades of the 20th century worked to, in a sense, “industrialize” the home. Unlike factory workers, however, housewives were unpaid, isolated, and unspecialized. Their managerial role shrank (hired help disappeared from most homes)  and rather than being drained of meaning, like the work of factory hands, theirs became burdened with portentous implications of love, devotion, and creativity. Finally, as housework became “easy,” standards rose. At one time changing the bed might have amounted to putting the bottom sheet in the wash and the top sheet on the bottom,…

By Ruth Schwartz Cowan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked More Work for Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic work of women's history (winner of the 1984 Dexter Prize from the Society for the History of Technology), Ruth Schwartz Cowan shows how and why modern women devote as much time to housework as did their colonial sisters. In lively and provocative prose, Cowan explains how the modern conveniences,washing machines, white flour, vacuums, commercial cotton,seemed at first to offer working-class women middle-class standards of comfort. Over time, however, it became clear that these gadgets and gizmos mainly replaced work previously conducted by men, children, and servants. Instead of living lives of leisure, middle-class women found themselves struggling…

Politics of the Pantry

By Emily E. LB. Twarog,

Book cover of Politics of the Pantry: Housewives, Food, and Consumer Protest in Twentieth-Century America

Allyson Brantley Author Of Brewing a Boycott: How a Grassroots Coalition Fought Coors and Remade American Consumer Activism

From the list on boycotts & consumer activism.

Who am I?

I’m a Colorado-raised and California-based historian, professor, and writer. I recently published my first book, Brewing a Boycott: How a Grassroots Coalition Fought Coors and Remade American Consumer Activism, which explores the history of one of the longest-running consumer boycotts in American history – the boycott of Coors beer. In telling this particular history, I became fascinated with the boycott as a tool of protest and activism. The boycott is an iconic and regular feature of American politics and history, but it is often dismissed as ineffective or passive. The books on this list (as well as many others) have helped to convince me that the boycott and consumer activism can be powerful forms of solidarity-building and protest.

Allyson's book list on boycotts & consumer activism

Why did Allyson love this book?

Women – and housewives – have long done most of a household’s shopping, making them the arbiters of family consumer habits. But as Twarog details in this fascinating book, many working-class American women have used their status as housewives to engage in protest and build power. Politics of the Pantry focuses particularly on battles over the cost of food – especially meat – in the 20th century. Women-led meat boycotts occurred in 1935, 1966, 1969, and 1973, for example. This slim volume is readable, engaging, and highlights the important role that women have played in consumer politics.

By Emily E. LB. Twarog,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Politics of the Pantry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of women's involvement in politics has focused most heavily on electoral politics, but throughout the twentieth century a far wider range of women has engaged in political activity when they found it increasingly challenging to feed their families and balance their household ledgers. The Politics of the Pantry examines the rise and fall of the American housewife as a political constituency group. It examines how working- and middle-class housewives'
relationship with the state evolved over the course of the century. Shifting the focus away from the workplace as a site of protest, it looks to the homefront as…

My Year of Meats

By Ruth Ozeki,

Book cover of My Year of Meats

J.M. Donellan Author Of Killing Adonis

From the list on reminding us why we should eat the rich.

Who am I?

We live in a bizarre era of Elon Musk stans who seem certain that if you work hard you’ll be rewarded not only with ‘fuck you’ money, but ‘fuck everyone’ money. I think any writer worth their salt should at some point tackle the issues of their age in their writing. In our era racism, sexism, climate change, and a range of other social justice issues are all exacerbated through the improper distribution of wealth. You could give a man a fish, and he might eat for a day. Or you could eviscerate the rich, share their wealth, and throw the whole world a parade! 

J.M.'s book list on reminding us why we should eat the rich

Why did J.M. love this book?

While I enjoyed this book while I was reading it, it was only after I’d digested it (pun intended) that I really came to appreciate its value. I think one of the real measures of an artwork is how much it sits with you in the months and years after the initial read/watch/listen, and this is one I think about often. The story follows a documentarian attempting to serve the corporate hierarchy and produce an asinine show about American wives and the meat-filled dinners they serve their husbands, but the novel gradually unfolds as a complex critique of misogyny, corporate control, Japanese and American culture, and the brutal nature of the modern livestock industry. 

By Ruth Ozeki,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Year of Meats as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


In a single eye-opening year, two women, worlds apart, experience parallel awakenings.

In New York, Jane Takagi-Little has landed a job producing Japanese docu-soap My American Wife! But as she researches the consumption of meat in the American home, she begins to realize that her ruthless search for a story is deeply compromising her morals.

Meanwhile, in Tokyo, housewife Akiko Ueno diligently prepares the recipes from Jane's programme. Struggling to please her husband, she increasingly doubts her commitment to the life she has fallen into.

As Jane and…

Book cover of Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Rob Shapiro Author Of The Book of Sam

From Rob's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Dad Obsessive movie watcher Avid reader Toronto sports Fan

Rob's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Rob love this book?

Recipe for a Perfect Wife is elegant and intriguing and hits on many of the character and thematic notes that I look for. The relationship between the main character, Alice, and the house that she moves to and comes to resent is palpable and relatable.

I was all in from the moment Alice finds a mysterious cookbook in the house, waiting for her next move and for Brown to reveal more about Alice and what makes her tick.

The best compliment I can pay to any novel is that I was sad when it ended. I don’t know how to explain that feeling, but I know it when I feel it. 

By Karma Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Recipe for a Perfect Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*LJ-"Brown kills it, a captivating winner" BL-"The pacing is brisk, the characters are appealing, and both time lines are equally well realized. Thoughtful, clever" Kirkus-"engaging and suspenseful."