We know you love to read (you told us so in our recent survey), and here we give you our recommendations for the best books to give as gifts—many of them written by women over 50. We always like to support NextTribe-aged women, and (no surprise!) they are killing it, writing some of the most magical and important books this year. Happy reading to you and those on your gift list.
For Your Pal Who Loves a Juicy Historical Drama
Another Side of Paradise (Harper) by Sally Koslow
Set against the glamour of 1930’s Hollywood, Koslow’s delicious novel illuminates the real-life love affair between F. Scott Fitzgerald and the legendary gossip columnist Sheilah Graham.
The Latecomers (Little, Brown) by Helen Klein Ross
Family secrets, forbidden love, and the inescapability of the past are deftly entwined in this compelling tale of five generations of an Irish-American family.
For the Person Who Likes to Be Up All Night Turning Pages
Transcription (Little, Brown) by Kate Atkinson
In 1940, a British girl named Juliet Armstrong is recruited for WWII espionage; 10 years later, she’s forced to confront some unexpected consequences. This thinking person’s spy novel has the added pleasure of sly literary references (starting with the name Juliet).
Only to Sleep: A Philip Marlowe Novel (Hogarth) by Lawrence Osborne,
Alas, Raymond Chandler is dead, but not to fear—Lawrence Osborne channels the late, great master, bringing back the iconic private investigator for one last elegant outing.
For Anyone Needing a Shot of Inspiration
Becoming (Crown) by Michelle Obama
The former first lady’s blockbuster memoir is packed with wisdom, including an honest look inside a good marriage.
Educated (Random House) by Tara Westover
Born into a survivalist family in Idaho, the author overcame all odds to earn a PhD from Cambridge. Hers is a story of extraordinary resilience and grit. If you loved Glass Castle, you’ll love this one, too.
In Pieces (Grand Central Publishing) by Sally Field
A sweetheart of our generation, Field painstakingly wrote this memoir herself, without sugar-coating or the de rigeuer help of a celebrity ghostwriter. She pulls back the curtain on her Hollywood life and shows us her evolution as a flesh-and-blood woman.
For Your Favorite Badass
To Throw Away Unopened: A Memoir (Faber & Faber) by Viv Albertine
A former punk rocker (the guitarist for The Slits) writes unflinchingly about life in her 50s, complete with explosive family feuds. Call it a feminist howl.
For the Reader Who Likes Her (or His) Fiction Socially Aware
The Incendiaries (Riverhead) by R.O. Kw0n
One of the buzziest books of the year, Kwon’s debut is about a campus cult—a dangerous cocktail of love and religion. For fans of Donna Tartt’s Secret History, though slimmer at 224 pages.
The Mercy Seat (Grove) Elizabeth Winthrop
Based on a true case, Winthrop’s deeply moving novel of a wrongly convicted black man in the Jim Crow South has a surprising twist at the end.
His Favorites (Scribner) by Kate Walbert
Set in the 1970s, decades before the #MeToo movement, a teenager is preyed on by her charismatic teacher. Walbert tells a story all too familiar to our generation, one that continues to resonate.
For the Person in Search of a Gutsy Heroine
Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen (St. Martin’s Press) by Sarah Bird
Cathy Williams, a freed slave, disguised herself as a man to become the only woman to serve with the legendary Buffalo Soldiers. This richly imagined novel brings a long-forgotten trailblazer to life.
For the History Buff
The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles (Crown) by Gary Krist
Ever wonder how an iconic city is born? Krist focuses his perceptive history of La-La-Land on three visionary individuals—an engineer, a moviemaker, and an evangelist—who were pivotal to L.A.’s identity.
The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Doctor Saved Thousands of American Babies (Blue Rider Press) by Dawn Raffel
In the early 20th century, a wily showman became the improbable savior of premature babies—by placing them in incubator sideshows and funding their care by charging admission. While the medical establishment deemed these children hopeless, Couney insisted they deserved a chance.
For Your Seriously Literary Friend
The Friend (Riverhead) by Sigrid Nunez
Nunez took home this year’s National Book Award for her novel about a middle-aged writer who loses a friend and gains a dog. It’s as much about the art and solace of writing as it is about friendship, loss, and, well, that pooch.
For the Person Who Fears Everything’s Going to Hell in a Handbasket
Field of Blood: Violence and Congress in Civil War (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by Joanne B. Freeman
If you think Congress is contentious now, you won’t believe what happened prior to the Civil War. Fisticuffs, drawn pistols, and even a deadly duel took place between elected officials. John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and more are cast in a new light, and our current political upheaval can be seen as just possibly survivable.
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (Viking) by Stephen Pinker
A professor of psychology at Harvard, Pinker makes a compelling argument—complete with 75 graphs—that life is indeed getting better, despite all the depressing headlines. He also offers a roadmap for moving forward.
For Someone Dealing with Loss
The Baltimore Book of the Dead (Counterpoint) by Marion Winik
No one makes it to midlife without loss, yet Winik contends that grief might be our last social taboo. Her crystalline remembrances of people who’ve passed (most of them personally known to her, a few celebs) are fleetingly brief yet speak volumes. Most importantly, they serve as encouragement to honor and remember our own dead, weaving our losses into the fabric of life.
For a Newly Retired Person Who Needs a New Obsession
The Witch Elm (Viking) by Tana French
French’s smart, twisty mysteries have an impassioned following. This latest installment clocks in at 528 pages, but it’s hard to stop at just one.
For the Bookworm
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters (W.W. Norton) by Anne Boyd Rioux
Millions of us have read and loved the story of the March sisters. Here, Rioux offers an intimate portrait of their creator Louisa May Alcott (who based them on her own family) and explains why Little Women still has legs.
Yes, you. Don’t forget to put yourself on your gift list!
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