The most recommended books about single mothers

Who picked these books? Meet our 90 experts.

90 authors created a book list connected to single mothers, and here are their favorite single mother books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of single mother book?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of Best Kept Secret

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor Author Of Drunk-ish: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving Alcohol

From my list on addiction books that will make you feel less alone.

Who am I?

I'm a memoir writer whose latest book, Drunk-ish, chronicles my experience getting sober. Before quitting drinking and after, I devoured all the "quit lit" books I could get my hands on despite not being entirely convinced I had an issue. I read to bond and identify with the authors, and the books I'm recommending are a few of my very favorites on the topic of addiction. On my podcast, "For Crying Out Loud," I often share about quitting drinking and addiction in general, and when I do, I find those are some of the most popular episodes. If you're sober, thinking about quitting, or even just like reading books about messed-up boozers, these books are for you.

Stefanie's book list on addiction books that will make you feel less alone

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor Why did Stefanie love this book?

You guessed it, this book is about a mom struggling with alcoholism. I read this book early in my sobriety, and I felt like I got punched in the ribs, but in a good way. It was the first time I’d heard this level of honesty from a parent about drinking, even though the book is a work of fiction.

The author is sober, so she knows what she’s talking about. After reading this book, I gobbled up everything else she’s written, and the other books don’t disappoint.

By Amy Hatvany,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A timely and captivating novel about a mother whose life spirals out of control when she descends into alcoholism, and her battle to get sober and regain custody of her beloved son.

Cadence didn’t sit down one night and decide that downing two bottles of wine was a brilliant idea.

Her drinking snuck up on her—as a way to sleep, to help her relax after a long day, to relieve some of the stress of the painful divorce that’s left her struggling to make ends meet with her five-year old son, Charlie.

It wasn’t always like this. Just a few…


Book cover of Stormy Weather

L. R. Trovillion Author Of False Gods

From my list on to satisfy your horse story cravings.

Who am I?

When I was five years old, our reward for not squirming in church was a pony ride in a small dirt ring. Although it wasn’t until I was out on my own and working before I could take riding lessons, I never forgot the joy that aged, tired pony gave me. I soon bought my first horse, eventually moved to a horse farm, and never looked back. My novels are mostly mysteries set in the equestrian world, but they focus on the healing power of horses in the lives of characters facing complex and sometimes dangerous family situations. 

L. R.'s book list on to satisfy your horse story cravings

L. R. Trovillion Why did L. R. love this book?

You know this is going to be a great book from the author who treated us to other historical adventures such as The Color of Lightning, Enemy Women, and News of the World. Jiles has the skills to recreate a period in time so tangible, the reader feels like they've been dropped through a time portal, and Stormy Weather is no exception. Set during the darkest years of the depression, a woman and her daughters battle cruel hardships alone on an abandoned farm, relying and setting their hopes on their only legacy—a dangerous, rogue racehorse named Smoky Joe. It is a story of personal strength and desperate dreams, pinned on the back of a horse. I love a story about women with grit, hope, and a tenacious will to succeed. 

By Paulette Jiles,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Stormy Weather as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Oil is king of East Texas during the darkest years of the Great Depression. The Stoddard girls—responsible Mayme, whip-smart tomboy Jeanine, and bookish Bea—know no life but an itinerant one, trailing their father from town to town as he searches for work on the pipelines and derricks. But in a year of devastating drought and dust storms, the family's fortunes sink further than they ever anticipated when a questionable "accident" leaves the girls and their mother, Elizabeth, alone to confront the cruelest hardships of these hardest of times.

Returning to their previously abandoned family farm, the resilient Stoddard women must…


Book cover of Gravity Is the Thing

Mary-Anne O'Connor Author Of Sisters of Freedom

From my list on featuring women you want as BFF’s.

Who am I?

Ever since I was a young girl, I have fallen deeply into the pages of novels that feature strong female characters, with Anne of Green Gables and Little Women capturing my imagination early. As an Australian, I’ve also always enjoyed books set here but anywhere where I can walk in a relatable character's shoes is fine by me. The magical experience of being immersed in ‘her’ world, feeling what she feels, relating to her, being frustrated with her, celebrating with her, loving with her…what are books if not gifting us such experiences? Every book I have penned has been based on this ideal, an intimate experience, a close relationship. A BFF.

Mary-Anne's book list on featuring women you want as BFF’s

Mary-Anne O'Connor Why did Mary-Anne love this book?

Yes, she is one of ‘the’ Moriartys, and this surprise shift away from her usual young adult fiction works is more than worthy of her famous surname. This book is sublime, whimsical, dreamy, chatty, fun, sad, joyous, and all with a sense of surreality that you strangely and completely enjoy. I found myself swept away as the lead character, Abigail, seeks to find answers to the tragedy that has haunted her since she was young and oh, how I walked that path with her. The strange retreat she is on will keep you guessing and the sweetness of her story will stay with you long after the final page.

By Jaclyn Moriarty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Clever and magical' - Women's Weekly

'Author Jaclyn is the sister of Liane Moriarty (Big Little Lies) and has the same talent for great plots. This unusual novel tugs at the heartstrings.' - Good Housekeeping

Twenty years ago, Abigail Sorenson's brother Robert went missing one day before her sixteenth birthday, never to be seen again. That same year, she began receiving scattered chapters in the mail from a mysterious guidebook, whose anonymous authors promised to make her life soar to heights beyond her wildest dreams.

These missives have remained a constant in Abi's life - a befuddling yet oddly comforting…


Book cover of Blackberry Summer

Who am I?

I’m a romance writer who moved around often as a child. Whenever I started a new school, I’d bring a book with me. Even now, I always run errands with a print book and my Kindle as I’m a writer, wife, and mother of four. Two of my children have medical conditions, and I’ve spent time in various doctor and hospital waiting rooms. I’ve taken books into MRI booths where I’d read while my daughter underwent an MRI. I gravitate toward emotional romances that keep me entertained while possessing a thread of humor or something unique about them so I can lose myself in their world anytime, anywhere. 

Tanya's book list on books to read anywhere, anytime (especially while waiting for your child, your parent, the person ahead of you in line)

Tanya Agler Why did Tanya love this book?

The minute I picked up this book I knew I could read it anywhere, anytime. Two of my children have medical conditions, and I’ve read books in waiting rooms, MRI booths, and parking lots. I love romance series with strong characters who find a happily ever after. RaeAnne Thayne excels at creating a sense of community and casts of characters I want to revisit. 

Claire Bradford leads a predictable life in Hope’s Crossing with no time for romance, especially when her best friend’s sexy younger brother returns as the new chief of police. But when an accident forces Claire to slow down and lean on others—especially Riley McKnight—she realizes, for the first time, that things need to change, beginning with being open to love and other possibilities.


By Raeanne Thayne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



Claire Bradford needed a wake-up call.

What she didn't need was a tragic car accident. As a single mom and the owner of a successful bead shop, Claire leads a predictable life in Hope's Crossing, Colorado. So what if she has no time for romance? At least, that's what she tells herself, especially when her best friend's sexy younger brother comes back to town as the new chief of police.

But when the accident forces Claire to slow down and lean on others—especially Riley McKnight—she realizes, for the first time, that things need to change. And not just in her…


Book cover of Belonging: A Memoir

Heidi Daniele Author Of The House Children

From my list on Irish industrial schools and mother baby homes.

Who am I?

I am first generation American - my mother is from Ireland and my father is from Germany. I’ve always had an interest in my heritage and developed a passion for genealogy. My curiosity led me to researching Industrial Schools and Mother Baby Homes in Ireland. I’ve read many books about these institutions and also wrote a book of my own based on stories of former residents of St. Joseph’s Industrial School in Ballinasloe, Galway.

Heidi's book list on Irish industrial schools and mother baby homes

Heidi Daniele Why did Heidi love this book?

In her book Belonging: A Memoir of Place, along with her personal journey, Corless shares her research and activism work towards justice for the lost babies of the Tuam Mother Baby Home. Her book is an excellent resource to learn about the institutions where unmarried mothers paid their penance and gave birth to their “illegitimate” children. Her book includes heart-wrenching accounts from former residents. 

I’ve had several exchanges with Catherine since 2010 when she responded to a query I had posted regarding the Tuam Mother Baby Home. Catherine Corless has brought worldwide attention to a scandal she uncovered: 796 missing burial records of children born in the Tuam Mother Baby Home.

By Catherine Corless,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

ONE WOMAN, THE SECRETS OF A SMALL TOWN, AND A QUEST FOR JUSTICE THAT ROCKED A NATION.

Catherine Corless could not have known where her interest in local history would lead her, as she began researching the Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Galway in 2010. Uncovering no less than 796 missing burial records of children born there, the stark truth of their place of rest became clear: a disused sewage tank on the old home site, where two boys had once stumbled upon bones.

But who were these lost children, and what had happened to them in the care…


Book cover of Simply Love

Jane B. Night Author Of Wedding the Widow

From my list on featuring a disabled character as a love interest.

Who am I?

I think it is so important for everyone to be able to see others get their happily ever after. Illness and disability doesn't mean a person can't or shouldn't find love. Everyone should be able to find love. I love seeing characters find their happily ever after even if they aren't physically perfect. 

Jane's book list on featuring a disabled character as a love interest

Jane B. Night Why did Jane love this book?

This book was my first experience with Mary Balogh and I instantly became a fan. She is now one of my favorite romance authors. This book broke my heart in the best of ways. Sydnam is injured from the war. He is missing an eye and an arm. Still, he managed to easily make me, and Anne, swoon over his artistic soul. Anne is a single mother with a background just as heartbreaking as Sydnam's but I never doubted for a moment they would end up happily ever after. I rooted for them all the way. 

By Mary Balogh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Anne Jewell is a teacher at Miss Martin's School for Girls, a genteel academy in Regency England. Now she must confront the disturbing tragedy that gave her a beautiful son but locked her heart away for many years ago. While on a summer holiday in Wales, Anne meets Sydnam Butler, a taciturn hero of the Peninsula Wars. Gentle yet courageous, he is unlike any man Anne has ever encountered. But he too carries scars of the past. When Anne returns to Miss Martin's, she makes a surprising discovery and has no choice but to test Sydnam's love. Their passion becomes…


Book cover of The School for Good Mothers

Nicole Hackett Author Of The Perfect Ones

From my list on the non-Instagrammable parts of motherhood.

Who am I?

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.

Nicole's book list on the non-Instagrammable parts of motherhood

Nicole Hackett Why did Nicole 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?

5 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?

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
AN OBAMA'S 2022 SUMMER READING PICK

'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 One Plus One

Kendra Smith Author Of Everything Has Changed

From my list on family drama and romance.

Who am I?

I have been writing about motherhood, family, love, loss, and finding yourself for over fifteen years. I have been a journalist, wife, mother-of-three-boys (yes, that’s one word), aerobics teacher, puppy wrestler, and novelist. Being a novelist is by far the hardest job but it’s the most rewarding. (OK, boys, no – motherhood is really.) I enjoy reading stories about family, love, and relationships in all their guises, good, bad, and messy, just like life – and I’m keen to write stories that readers will remember too. My latest book is about two sisters who, after a car crash, are affected differently, yet both are on a journey for the truth. 

Kendra's book list on family drama and romance

Kendra Smith Why did Kendra love this book?

I dare you not to love a Jojo Moyes book!

In this one, it’s part romance, part road trip, with a big dose of family drama... Jess is a single mum and Ed is a stranger who gives her and her two children a lift. But he doesn’t stay a stranger for long.

The characters grow on you and it’s quite a slow burn of a love story, but there are family dynamics that will have you tearing up as well as laughing out loud.

I enjoy Moyes’ more gentle writing about motherhood and love.   

By Jojo Moyes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked One Plus One as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Giver of Stars

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can't afford to pay for. That's Jess's life in a nutshell-until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess's knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has…


Book cover of All Over Creation

Fran Hawthorne Author Of I Meant to Tell You

From my list on ordinary people drawn into social activism.

Who am I?

Was it the environmental movement, which burgeoned as I was growing up? Or remnants of Sunday School teachings? For whatever reason, I deeply believe that I have a responsibility to give back to the world more than I take. There are many ways to give back, as my characters Miranda and Russ explore in my novel I Meant to Tell You. In my nonfiction, I’ve investigated the healthcare and financial industries, and also suggested steps we can take in our everyday lives as consumers, parents, and investors. When I’m not writing, I’m organizing environmental clean-ups, collecting supplies for refugees, and phoning public officials.

Fran's book list on ordinary people drawn into social activism

Fran Hawthorne Why did Fran love this book?

This novel took me into a community that I rarely read about in fiction, to show the human impact of a controversial industry—in this case, GMO agriculture and Idaho potato farmers. From my research for two of my nonfiction books, I started with some understanding of the complex debate, and I appreciate that All Over Creation branches into more subplots beyond simply Big Agriculture versus family farms. In fact, I liked Will, the well-meaning local farmer who sincerely believes that GMO potatoes will save his ailing farm, far more than Yumi, the main character, a single mom who long ago fled potato country. She seems too caught up in her resentments against her father and hometown, to care about anyone but herself. 

By Ruth Ozeki,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A warm and witty saga about agribusiness, environmental activism, and community-from the celebrated author of The Book of Form and Emptiness and A Tale for the Time Being

Yumi Fuller hasn't set foot in her hometown of Liberty Falls, Idaho-heart of the potato-farming industry-since she ran away at age fifteen. Twenty-five years later, the prodigal daughter returns to confront her dying parents, her best friend, and her conflicted past, and finds herself caught up in an altogether new drama. The post-millennial farming community has been invaded by Agribusiness forces at war with a posse of activists, the Seeds of Resistance,…


Book cover of Did I Say You Could Go

Marie Still Author Of We're All Lying

From my list on whiplash inducing twists.

Who am I?

As a reader and a writer, I am drawn to the darker side of human nature. Dysfunctional families, toxic relationships, liars, murderers, bring on the bad. An avid reader of horror and thrillers, I love a jaw-dropping twist. I aim for that feeling in my own novels, opening up reader questions and slowly delivering satisfying answers until the final big reveal. While inside my head is very dark and murdery, outside I live a very normal, law-abiding life, in Tampa with my husband, our four kids, and two dogs.  

Marie's book list on whiplash inducing twists

Marie Still Why did Marie love this book?

Ruth and Gemma are two moms with opposing lifestyles. Ruth is affluent, while Gemma is struggling to make ends meet. Shunned by the other moms, Ruth clings to Gemma, showering her with gifts and trips and the two become best frienemies. Their toxic relationship is a fun ride, and two separate incidents years apart leave both moms finding themselves on the wrong side of scandal. This book got messier and messier with each page, and I was there for it. Every time I thought I had figured out what was going on, I’d read a sentence and question everything.

By Melanie Gideon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Did I Say You Could Go as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A suspenseful, gripping novel about families and friendships torn apart at the seams by obsession, secrets, and betrayal with relentless twists and turns that hurtle forward to a shocking confrontation.

When Ruth, a wealthy divorce e, offers to host the Hillside Academy kindergarten meet-and-greet, she hopes this will be a fresh start for her and her introverted daughter, Marley. Finally, they'll be accepted into a tribe. Marley will make friends and Ruth will be welcomed by the mothers. Instead, the parents are turned off by Ruth's ostentatious wealth and before kindergarten even begins, Ruth and Marley are outcasts.

The last…