Local Author Reading List: Susanne Kerns


It’s hard enough for us parents to find time to read, let alone to decide what to read. Head to the library and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the stacks upon stacks of interesting-sounding titles (who can blame us for judging a book by its cover?). Just keeping up with book lists can seem like a chore. That’s why we here at LiveMom are introducing you to local authors, who will be giving you the skinny on what’s on their reading lists…because who better than a writer to turn you on to new and interesting books?!

One of the local bloggers that’s left me cackling on various occasions is Susanne Kerns, who started her blog, The Dusty Parachute, just over a year ago. Before kids, Susanne was a Senior Account Director at an advertising agency. Susanne traded in her corporate life for life as a stay at home mom nine years ago to raise her two kids. The Dusty Parachute was her way of refreshing her job skills and starting to look for a job again. One of my favorite posts of her this summer was her account of a suburban moms’ night out gone wrong (including a headlock) here. Somehow, I wasn’t able to convince any of my friends to go see the movie with me after that!

susanne kerns headshot close up

Susanne’s essays have been featured in Scary Mommy, BonBon Break and Redbook and she is also a contributor in It’s Really 10 Months, Special Delivery and Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?! You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

it's really 10 months book1      martinis and motherhood cover

Given Susanne’s hilarious reflections on parenting, it’s no surprise that she decided to recommend five books that deal with the challenges of being a parent. Here are some of her favorites, and why she chose them:

where'd you go bernadette

Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel by Maria Semple

I love this book so much that I would try to find a way to justify adding it to any ‘recommended book list’ regardless of the theme. I lived in Seattle for 15 years before moving to Austin and Maria Semple perfectly captures some of the quirkier elements of life in Seattle (yes, the blackberry bushes are that bad.) If you have ever rolled your eyes at an email from a class room parent about a politically-correct-themed holiday party (no more “Halloween” parties, now they’re “Fall Celebrations!”) then you will appreciate Bernadette’s overall outlook on life. It’s also a great book for those of us who hate to leave the house and have considered outsourcing all of our daily household management activities to a virtual assistant in India.

animal vegetable

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
AdvertisementWarning: This book will make you want to put a chicken coop in your back yard and start making your own cheese. As parents, we all want to make the right decisions about what to feed our kids and how we care for the earth for future generations. Barbara Kingsolver took on the daunting challenge of starting a farm in Virginia with her family and only eating food that they grew themselves or could obtain locally. It’s informative without being too preachy and an entertaining read that I still find myself quoting on a regular basis, (especially when my kids ask for a third helping of some ‘nacho-explosion’ flavor-boosted crackers.)


Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay

We all want to protect our kids from harm, but would you protect your child if they were the one who potentially harmed someone else? In Defending Jacob, a couple is faced with the unimaginable agony of discovering that their son is a prime suspect in the murder of a classmate. Reading it as a parent, you’ll find yourself asking, “would I try to overlook that potentially incriminating piece of evidence?” Or even worse, “would I destroy that piece of evidence?” This one had our book club talking for hours, especially about the ending.


Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel  by Kimberly McCreight

I’m continuing my ‘nightmare-inducing books about parenting’ sub-theme with Reconstructing Amelia. As the mom of a 10 year old girl, this one absolutely horrified me (but in a really entertaining way!) After Kate’s 15 year old daughter, Amelia is found dead, Kate begins digging through all of Amelia’s texts, emails and Facebook posts only to discover how little she truly knew about her own daughter. This story of teenage secrets and cyberbullying will make you never want to let your child use an iAnything again.

ramona and her mother

Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

On a lighter note, here’s a fun parenting book (that doesn’t involve any courtroom drama,) that you can read with your child. I love how this sweet story of childhood captures many parenting challenges from the point of view of a child. Many of us can relate with balancing budgets due to money being tight or the challenges of going back to work after being a stay at home parent. Beverly Cleary does a beautiful job of helping us see those serious situations through the eyes of a child while still being lighthearted and fun. But it was the scene when the mom leaves the meat in the crock-pot all day and forgets to plug it in that made me say, “you get me….you really, really get me.”

Looking for more ideas on what to read? Take a look at our past Reading Mama Recommendations here.

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About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".