6 Books That Will Help You Discover the Meaning of Legacy

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There are a lot of different ways we can define "Legacy" when we're looking at it from an outside perspective. Because Legacy has no cookie-cutter formula. It's a multifaceted, pluridimensional spiderweb of relationships, memories and circumstances. These books help paint a broader picture of what legacy can mean to different families, some through humor, others through tugging at your heartstrings. But no matter which book you pick up, these reads are sure to make those late-night feedings just a bit more enjoyable. 

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

The big family secret is revealed almost immediately in The Most Fun We Ever Had, which connects four decades in the lives of the Sorensons of Oak Park, Chicago. But all the small secrets—from misremembered slights to misplaced bedsheets—are uncovered patiently, skillfully, precisely, in service of the novel’s central mystery: How do you love?

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

A liberal and a conservative family clash in this transatlantic comic saga by Zadie Smith. This quick read follows two families, the Belseys and the Kipps, both headed by an academic patriarch who is the other’s professional rival. When the Kipps family moves to the Belseys’ home own of Wellington in the U.S., tensions between the families rise as some members become friends, and others become even more bitter enemies.

What We Carry: A Memoir by Maya Shanbhag Lang

As a new mother in an unfamiliar city, Lang suffers from a severe case of postpartum depression and seeks advice from her own mother, an Indian immigrant and psychiatrist. But when her mother refuses to provide emotional support when Lang needs it most, Lang begins to ask larger questions about their long shared history, female identity, family, and the power of stories handed down through generations.

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

In Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt, five generations of mothers and daughters fight to stay afloat. Though “there are no real rules that govern why some are born in turmoil and others never know a single day in which the next seems an ill-considered bet,” the forces that shape these families are unmistakably patriarchal, capitalist and colonial. Against these tides of injustice, mothers and daughters fight to stay afloat, clinging to the wisdom that “we are more than we think we are.”

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

If you read only one book from this list, let it be this one. Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into the Fante and Asante tribes of 18th century Ghana. The book follows their families, with successive chapters mining stories from each lineage. Effia's descendents remain in Africa, warring and intermarrying with members of different tribes. Esi is enslaved by an American planter. The contrapuntal lives of the African and African-American progeny shape the novel's compelling narrative arc. It's sweeping, incredible and stays with you long after you've finished the book. 

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin

The People We Keep is not a book to pick up lightly—it will make you fall in love with the characters, it will break your heart, it will make you laugh and cry and feel all the emotions. At its core, this book is about a girl finding her place in the world. It’s about creating a family for yourself when your own family has failed you. It’s about learning to accept the love you never thought you deserved. And it’s worth every gut-wrenching turn along the way.


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