Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen
You might not have heard of Olsen, but her 1961 story collection Tell Me a Riddle was one of the first to intimately chronicle the lives of working-class women. One entry is plainly titled “I Stand Here Ironing,” and chronicles a mother’s regrets with wisdom, bravery, and not an ounce of self-pity. Olsen opened a window onto a world not often seen before in American literature and influenced a generation of women writers, including Margaret Atwood, Sandra Cisneros, and Alice Walker. Here are some great books for mothers and daughters to read together.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
You might’ve been assigned the tale of Pip the ambitious orphan in school. But we promise Great Expectations is a good book to read as an adult, because the humor that sailed over your head as a kid will be evident now—and besides, you won’t need to write a paper about it. Dickens, in his time, was as famous as a rock star (or, a Kardashian) because his novels were written as page-turners, with whip-smart observations about ambition and human nature.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Marie Remarque
Remarque’s searing war-is-hell novel gave millions of readers their first view of the suffering of ordinary German soldiers and civilians during WW1. All Quiet on the Western Front serves as a reminder of the real people on the other side of any battle. Here are some more books to make you cry.