6 Good Books to Buy for the Women in Your Life
Photo: pinkomelet, Getty Images.
The best women to be around are readers. They’re sharp, witty, and always have fascinating conversation fodder. One way to impress the whip-smart ladies in your life is to buy them good books. Whether the women you love are family, friends, or something more, feed your favorite readers’ curiosity with these six books written by women. While you’re buying one of these thoughtful gifts for your beloved readers, pick up a second copy for yourself. (There’s no reason you can’t read them, too!) Then you’ll be able to talk about the book together. And that, gentlemen, is how you win her over.
For the woman who loves love.
How to Fall in Love With Anyone is Mandy Len Catron’s meditation on the mysterious nature of love and the stories we tell about it. She begins with a look back at the long-term relationship that eclipsed her 20s and was on the slow train to Splitsville. As Catron muddles through her decision to end the relationship, she revisits the meet-cute anecdotes of her parents and grandparents and realizes that the stories we tell ourselves about relationships don't always line up with reality. She also turns to psychology, biology, literature and history in an attempt to better understand the factors that contribute to, and erode, love. The book concludes with the now infamous tale of how she bonded with her current partner on their first date by doing a psychology experiment: ask and answer 36 increasingly intimate questions. The results formed the basis of her 2015 Modern Love column that went viral for as close to a happy ending as one can have in the digital age. Yes, this book is a love fest, but it's more skeptical than sentimental, and certainly thought-provoking.
For the monogamous type.
For Dani Shapiro, the third time was the charm—when it came to husbands anyway. Hourglass is the story of meeting, falling in love, and sticking with her war correspondent husband over two decades. The couple isn’t perfect; their habits grate on one another, they scramble to pay the bills, and the passion omnipresent when they first met has lessened. But they’re committed, and manage to clear more than one hurdle as they grow old together. This meandering and philosophical memoir will be enjoyed both by those dedicated to staying married and those wondering if they should.
For the body-conscious woman.
Few things torment a woman throughout her life like weight. Rare is the female who’s satisfied with her shape. No matter how smart or how feminist or how informed, women constantly struggle to make peace with their bodies. Roxane Gay is no exception, though she addresses these issues in her memoir Hunger in a way few writers have: with unflinching honesty. As a victim of sexual assault, Gay used food for comfort. She ate her way to 577 pounds, and has since alternately punished her body and attempted to change her relationship to food. This book will make you think about the stories beneath our skin and inspire compassion for the body battles others face.
For the highly emotive woman.
Poet Nina Riggs died from breast cancer this past February, but her words live on in The Bright Hour. Only thirty-seven years old when diagnosed, she comforted herself with the news that the cancer was just “one small spot.” Despite aggressive treatment, the diagnosis turns terminal, and Riggs must confront what little time she has left with her two young sons and her husband of 16 years. This synopsis sounds like a downer, but the book is not; Riggs finds ways to inject humor and wisdom into her experiences as her days among the living dwindle.
For the pop culture-consuming feminist.
What do Nicki Minaj, Kim Kardashian, and Hillary Clinton have in common? They’re all public figures who have been raked over the coals by the press. In Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, Buzzfeed culture writer Anne Helen Peterson tackles the perceived excesses of American celebrities over ten chapters. Minaj is “too slutty,” Kardashian “too pregnant,” Clinton “too shrill.” Peterson goes deep into the weeds in this collection of essays, analyzing words like “naked” and “bitch,” unpacking the “fuck-up freedom” of Broad City, and examining what constitutes “chick lit.” It’s a crash course in how to be more woke in all things sexism.
For the rootless millennial.
When Goodbye, Vitamin begins, 30 year-old Ruth arrives at her parents’ Los Angeles home for the holidays following a broken engagement. Upon seeing how her father’s Alzheimer’s disease has progressed, she quits her San Francisco job and moves in with the ‘rents. The father-daughter bond unexpectedly strengthens as his memory wanes and her emotions turn more complex. Thank goodness for Rachel Khong’s sardonic sense of humor or this would be a Hallmark Movie of the Week-style novel.