Angela Garbes with Jen Graves — Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change

"I have never felt more held, challenged, and called to action by a book. . . I know I will think about this book for the rest of my life—it's that important." —Lydia Kiesling


Third Place Books welcomes local author Angela Garbes—author of critically-acclaimed Like a Mother—to our Seward Park store! Garbes will discuss her latest work of nonfiction, Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change, a book that reframes mothering and contends that the labor of raising thriving children offers us the ability to create a more equitable society. Garbes will be in conversation with therapist and professor Jen Graves. This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required in advance.

Copies of Essential Labor will be available for purchase at the store. This event will include a public signing and time for audience Q&A. Sustain our author series by purchasing a copy of the featured book!

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About Like a Mother. . .

From the acclaimed author of Like a Mother comes an investigation into the current state of caregiving in America and an exploration of motherhood as a means of social change.

The Covid-19 pandemic reminded us of an overlooked truth: mothering is among the only essential work humans do. In response to the increasing weight placed on mothers and caregivers—and the lack of a social safety net to support them—Garbes penned a piece for New York Magazine, “The Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story,” which quickly went viral. 

Since then, Garbes has found herself pondering a vital question: How, under our current circumstances that leave us exhausted and depleted, might we demand more from American family life? The answer, she believes, is by doubling down on the value of mothering and its radical potential. 

In Essential Labor, Garbes builds on the ideas she presented in her viral essay, exploring our assumptions about care, deservedness, and equity. Care and Leading is a deep dive into what mothering in America is, and can be, amidst all the fear and possibility of the moment. Using her family's journey as care workers from the Philippines as a lens, she places mothering in a global context of care—the invisible economic engine that has been historically devalued and demanded of women of color. 

Garbes contends that the labor of raising thriving children offers us the ability to create a more equitable society. In Essential Labor Garbes reframes the everyday tasks that feel laborious as opportunities to teach children progressive and inclusive ways of valuing themselves and others. Social change begins in our homes. Just as Like a Mother provided a new context for understanding pregnancy, Essential Labor will give readers a thought-provoking, hopeful, and urgent consideration of the work of mothering.


Angela Garbes on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Praise for Like a Mother. . .

“Angela Garbes has given us the definitive explanation for something we all share: the sense that something is not right about our society’s treatment of parenting. Essential Labor is a beautifully written, painstakingly researched, and courageously personal book. Garbes reveals the way systems exploit caregiving and shows us how the essential work of mothering can fix not just family life, but society. A timely and unforgettable book.”
Heather McGhee, author of The Sum of Us

“Meditation, memoir, and manifesto in one, this book makes a case for the mother in all of us. It’s an expansive and intimate testament to how and why we should care for others—and ourselves.”
Ligaya Mishan, co-author of Filipinx

“You might think this is a book for parents. You're wrong. Essential Labor expands our understanding of what "mothering" can and should look like; it's a book for anyone—including and especially people who aren't parents—who wants to imagine what a more equitable and caring community could look like.”
Anne Helen Petersen, author of Out of Office and Can’t Even

"In Essential Labor, Angela Garbes defines motherhood as a form of collective labor, contemplating love as a communal act and envisioning a society in which care work is no longer considered separate from or lesser than paid work. This book is a bold and generous offering that brings us closer to a future in which the everyday labor of care is treated to the reverence and value it is truly worth."
Carvell Wallace, author of The Sixth Man

"I have never felt more held, challenged, and called to action by a book. Angela Garbes seamlessly weaves together memoir, research, and cultural analysis in a way that is expansive and profoundly intimate. She offers a path forward for family life that is simultaneously instinctive, generous, and revolutionary, sounding a note that American society badly needs to hear. I know I will think about this book for the rest of my life—it's that important."
Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State

Angela Garbes is the author of Like a Mother, an NPR Best Book of the Year and finalist for the Washington State Book Award in Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Cut, New York, Bon Appétit, and featured on NPR's Fresh Air. She also cohosts The Double Shift, an acclaimed podcast challenging the status quo of motherhood in America. She lives with her family in Seattle. (Photo credit: Elizabeth Rudge)

Jen Graves is a stepmother, a mother, a dog mother, a couples and family therapist, sometimes a professor, and—back when she and Angela Garbes both worked at The Stranger—a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism.

Want a signed edition of the featured book, but can't make it to the event? Order through our website or over the phone, and write your request for a signature or personalization in the comments field at checkout. Please call the hosting store if you're placing your order within 24 hours of the event.

Third Place Books Events Code of Conduct: Third Place Books is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of event attendees and guest authors, during both online and in-store events. By registering for this event, you are agreeing to refrain from engaging in inappropriate behavior and harassment of any kind throughout the course of this event (i.e. racial slurs, profanity, hate speech, spam comments, etc.). Please note that any participants who engage in inappropriate behavior or harassment of any kind will be immediately ejected from the event.

For media inquiries, access inquiries, or questions about our Covid-19 policies, please email or call our Lake Forest Park store at (206) 366-3311.