23 titles that are perfect gifts for the book-loving women in your life

by Kristine Cannon
Dec 9, 2016 at 3:55 p.m. ET

Sometimes books make for the most magically life-changing holiday gifts.

Originally published December 2015. Updated December 2016.

1 /23: 'Good on Paper'

1/23 :'Good on Paper'

For your BFF:

Shira Greene, a single mom living with her daughter and her gay friend, Ahmad, is lamenting the shambles of her professional life when she gets a call from a Nobel Prize-winning Italian poet who insists on hiring her. Just like that, everything changes — until she realizes her new job is not what it's cracked up to be.

Good on Paper has a lot of humor and heart and opens our eyes to all the grand possibilities that life holds.

2 /23: 'Life and Other Near-Death Experiences'

2/23 :'Life and Other Near-Death Experiences'

For your BFF:

For Libby Miller, what they say is true: when it rains, it pours. The day she receives a devastating diagnosis from her doctor is the same day Libby's husband drops a secret that could ruin their marriage, and Libby flees her Chicago life for the glittering waters of the Caribbean. But the trip could also be her last hurrah, and Libby can't outrun her problems. With the possibility of a new relationship and with her brother determined to find her on her island getaway, Libby will have to decide if the possibility of a new love and life are worth fighting for a little longer.

3 /23: 'Sounds Like Me'

3/23 :'Sounds Like Me'

For your BFF:

If you can't make it for a girls' night to see Sara Bareilles live on Broadway, her brand-new memoir is the next best thing. An inspirational account of self-acceptance, healing and growth through music, Bareilles shares the struggles and joys of being a songwriter. With five albums and over 2.5 million copies sold worldwide, you won't want to miss Bareilles' touching and hilarious confessions behind some of her hit songs and the lessons she's learned along the way.

4 /23: 'Why Not Me?'

4/23 :'Why Not Me?'

For your BFF:

If you loved Mindy Kaling's first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, then you have to grab her second book Why Not Me? — if not for yourself, then definitely for your BFF. In it, she discusses her sorority years, dating, shares confidence tips, a behind-the-scenes look at The Mindy Project and many other hilarious antics.

5 /23: 'The Word Game'

5/23 :'The Word Game'

For your mom:

The New York Times best-selling author Steena Holmes returns with an engrossing read that will have moms speeding through the pages. Helicopter parent Alyson Ward is reluctant to let her daughter Lyla attend her first slumber party at her cousin's house. But she's at ease knowing her sister Tricia is the chaperone. However, Alyson's comfort is short-lived when Lyla reveals something sinister that happened at the slumber party. Not only could this secret tear apart their family, it could tear apart the entire community. 

6 /23: 'The Hours Count'

6/23 :'The Hours Count'

For your mom:

In 1947, Millie and Ed Stein moved with their son, David, to the Lower East Side of New York, and quickly made friends with their neighbors, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. As Millie and Ethel's roles as wives, mothers and friends weave together, Millie finds herself drawn into an unimaginable situation when one normal day in 1950, Ethel leaves her own two young sons with Millie and never returns. Three years later, Ethel and Julius are executed on accusations of conspiring to commit espionage during the Cold War, and Millie must come to terms with the truth behind the relationships she trusted and loved.

7 /23: 'The Lake House'

7/23 :'The Lake House'

For your mom:

Losing a child is a mother's worst nightmare. So when the Edevanes' 11-month-old son, Theo, vanishes without a trace, it sparks a tragedy that almost tears their family apart. When Theo's older sister Alice stumbles upon their childhood estate decades later, her curiosity is reborn and she can't help but begin the search for Theo once again. 

8 /23: 'Blonde Eskimo'

8/23 :'Blonde Eskimo'

For your teen:

Neiva Ellis knows that her ancestral home of Spirit, Alaska, has secrets: she just never thought they would be anything like this. When Neiva is thrown into an alternate world during an Eskimo rite of passage, she is fascinated to watch the real world and Eskimo legends collide. But when an evil, ancient force threatens to destroy what Neiva holds dear, she must call on the support of her friends and a mysterious masked stranger to help her save Spirit, and possibly the world.

9 /23: 'Carry On'

9/23 :'Carry On'

For your teen:

Give your teen the gift of magic this Christmas with Rainbow Rowell's bestselling novel Carry On. Simon Snow is the Chosen One, but according to his vampire roommate Baz, he's the worst to ever be chosen. He can barely make his wand work, his mentors avoid him and he can't even keep a girlfriend. Oh, and did we mention the magic-eating monsters chasing him around? Carry On — The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost/love/mystery story that teens won't be able to put down.

10 /23: 'Never Said'

10/23 :'Never Said'

For your teen:

Teens will devour this page-turning twisted read. Sarah has always been out of the spotlight, with having a prettier, more social sister named Annie. It seems everyone wishes Sarah could be more like Annie, more perfect, more likable. But when Annie rebels, cuts her hair and gains weight, she continues to hold the focus, but for all the wrong reasons. Sarah begins to pick up that Annie's behavior is stemming from something more than just a need to rebel, and instead from a life-changing traumatic experience. As the two sisters get closer, they begin to unravel. One thing is for sure: they will never be the same again. 

11 /23: 'The Nightingale'

11/23 :'The Nightingale'

For your grandmother:

Set in war-torn France in 1939, The Nightingale tells the story of two very different sisters who each embark on their own dangerous path to survival during the German occupation. It's a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that captures the epic panorama of WWII and gives insight into a part of history rarely talked about: the women's war.

12 /23: 'Reading the Sweet Oak'

12/23 :'Reading the Sweet Oak'

For your grandmother:

The only family 78-year-old Ruby has left is her granddaughter, Tulsa, who Ruby is determined to show that risks are worth taking — even if the consequences are large. So when Ruby ropes the unwilling Tulsa into a romance book club with three other friends, the women explore the bonds of friendship through modern love tales.

13 /23: 'The Crescent Spy'

13/23 :'The Crescent Spy'

For your grandmother:

When Josephine Breaux is discovered writing under a man's name during the American Civil War, she is arrested and charged with treason despite claiming she is loyal to the Union. Expecting to be tried as a traitor and spy, Josephine unexpectedly finds herself in the company of President Lincoln, who has different plans for the talented reporter. Sent to New Orleans on a secret mission focused on quickening the end of the war, Josephine is faced with the hardships of war and the pain of her own buried secrets.

14 /23: 'Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind'

14/23 :'Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind'

For your grandmother:

In the 15th century, Paolo Uccello's daughter, Antonia, discovered her gift of painting, creating a masterpiece of her mother that has endured throughout history. Almost 500 years later, a painter and his teenage daughter receive permission to recreate the Italian masterpiece. Yet, as they delve into the story behind the painting, they learn of a tragic family secret that could change history. 

15 /23: 'Me Before You'

15/23 :'Me Before You'

For your sister:

The movie caught some serious heat for allegedly being insensitive to people with disabilities, but Jojo Moyes' story is a beautifully told romantic tale. Perfect for your sister, particularly if she is a fan of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars.

16 /23: 'Whistling Women'

16/23 :'Whistling Women'

For your sister:

Fifteen years ago, Addie Bates fled San Diego and the crime she committed for a life at the Sleepy Valley Nudist Colony. But the 1935 World's Fair in San Diego is beckoning to Addie's fellow residents, and Addie is faced with returning to the memories of her past, and perhaps worst of all, her estranged sister, Wavey. Then, when Wavey's daughter learns she has an aunt, the sisters are brought together and forced to face the secrets of their past.

17 /23: 'Dear Mr. You'

17/23 :'Dear Mr. You'

For your sister:

In this unconventional memoir, actress Mary-Louise Parker recounts her life through letters written to the men who shaped her character today. From the grandfather she never met to an adored childhood priest, and the uncle of her adopted infant daughter, you won't want to miss this collection of heartfelt and imaginatively written letters.

18 /23: 'Pretty Girls'

18/23 :'Pretty Girls'

For your sister:

Karin Slaughter's latest novel is a thrilling read to gift this holiday season. Sisters Claire and Lydia's lives could not be further apart. Claire's millionaire husband allows her to be a gorgeous Atlanta trophy wife while Lydia is a struggling single mother that's dating an ex-con. Claire and Lydia have not spoken for the past 20 years since the disappearance of their younger sister Julia. After Claire's husband is killed, the horrible tragedy of their past reemerges. Banding together again, the two sisters uncover the secrets of Julia's disappearance and find revenge in the last place they expect to find it. 

19 /23: 'Big Magic'

19/23 :'Big Magic'

For yourself:

Struggling to understand your own creativity? Beloved author Elizabeth Gilbert is back to share her unique perspective on creativity, perspective and wisdom. Asking her readers to let go of needless suffering to truly embrace their natural curiosity to approaches and attitudes that can be integrated into the routines of people from all walks of life, Gilbert encourages everyone to discover the “strange jewels” unique to each creative life. 

20 /23: 'Rising Strong'

20/23 :'Rising Strong'

For yourself:

Ever wonder how Fortune 500 CEOs have built their company, or how Beyoncé has managed to build herself into a global brand? Social scientist Brené Brown would say they have “recognized the power of emotion and they're not afraid to lean in to discomfort.” In her new book Rising Strong, Brown takes on the subject of vulnerability and how accepting our personal faults is the only way to rise again and lead a successful and happy life.

21 /23: 'Year of Yes'

21/23 :'Year of Yes'

For yourself:

The holidays always manage to get a little stressful with endless errands, cooking and buying presents for everyone else in your life. But this holiday season, indulge in a little gift for yourself by picking up Year of Yes by television's most powerful woman, Shonda Rhimes. This unflinchingly honest, intimate and wildly hilarious memoir explores Rhimes' brave journey of saying yes to everything that scared her. Although Rhimes undoubtedly created three of the most iconic and courageous characters on television, she found herself suffering from panic attacks before making public appearances, and hugging the walls at A-list parties. That is when she knew something had to change, so she embraced the challenge of saying yes to everything that made her uncomfortable for one year. This compulsively readable book will empower and inspire readers to applaud and love their truest self, all while saying yes.

22 /23: '13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl: Fiction'

22/23 :'13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl: Fiction'

For any woman who has ever felt she can never measure up to societal standards of beauty (so, basically, any woman):

This hilarious yet heartbreaking, award-winning novel follows the plight of Lizzie, who feels deeply uncomfortable in her own skin while growing up in her own personal suburban hell. She embarks on an obsessive calorie-counting weight loss journey and grows up to be the "skinny" girl she always wanted to be. The only problem is that she still can't see herself as anything but a fat girl. 
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl is an important and entertaining social commentary on our body image-obsessed culture that tells women they have no value outside their physical appearance.

23 /23: 'Milk and Honey'

23/23 :'Milk and Honey'

For any woman in your life:

Rupi Kaur's New York Times bestseller Milk and Honey is a gut-wrenching collection of poetry and prose about survival and the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss and femininity. Kaur aims to inspire those who have endured great struggles to turn their tragedies into sweetness.