How to Accessorize
It happens to the best of us: we collect a treasure trove of accessories, then leave them tucked away in a drawer because we’re just not sure how to stack those bracelets—and what’s the word on mixed metals, again? Enter Micaela Erlanger, the fashion aficionado who dresses celebs for the red carpet. In this gorgeously illustrated how-to, she sets the record straight and reveals accessorizing secrets, from identifying the perfect shape of sunglasses to compiling the right ingredients for your “accessory recipe.” Yes, please!
Giada De Laurentiis
America’s most beloved Italian chef—bringing us lighter takes on classic Italian foods we crave—takes us on a tour around her native Rome in this stunning collection of recipes, family stories, and cooking tips. From the festive (Fennel Upside Down Cake) to the elegant (Grilled Swordfish with Candied Lemon Salad), this cookbook is as helpful as it is a sheer pleasure to thumb through. Bonus points: cook one of Giada’s meals together, or—better yet!—prepare it for your loved one while she puts her feet up.
Eat a Little Better
You don’t have to go fully local and organic to benefit your family and the environment—so says Sam Kass, former chef to the Obamas and White House food policy advisor. You just have to eat, well, a little better. On top of 90 tasty and doable recipes, he offers new ways to think about grocery shopping and meal prep, carefully avoiding that inevitable overwhelm that comes with thinking about overhauling your lifestyle. A great pick for anyone ready to take some baby steps toward healthier living.
Portugal’s capital city is often overlooked in terms of cuisine, but that won’t be the case for much longer thanks to Nuno Mendes, internationally renowned chef and Lisbon native. In this can’t-be-missed cookbook, he shares the food he grew up on: sizzling squid, orange-rub pork belly, salt cod fritters flavored with almonds (Mendes’s twist), paired with essays about his memories of the region. If an exotic night is called for, My Lisbon is an excellent bet.
The Language of Kindness
If you’re also lucky enough to have a nurse or two in the family, let them know you see their compassion and hard work by giving them Christie Watson’s collection of medical essays, The Language of Kindness. Watson, a nurse herself for 20 years, guides readers through cancer wards and pediatric units, telling the stories of vulnerable and unforgettable patients and the nurses who cared for them. Nursing is often an emotionally exhausting and invisible job, but this book will help the caregivers in your life feel seen and appreciated.
Healthy skin, important as it is, doesn’t just happen—particularly when you’re busy being a power wom. Fortunately, Tatcha Skin Care founder Vicky Tsai created a guide featuring generations-old Japanese skincare traditions that are actually obtainable, using everyday ingredients unique to each reader and only two minutes to run through the routine. On top of daily enhancements, Tsai also talks lifestyle—diet and sleep, for starters—for longer-lasting healthy skin. Gift it to the woman in your life who deserves a little pampering (which is—hint, hint—all of them).
The Plantpower Way: Italia
Think going vegan means giving up your favorite Italian food? Think again. Julie Piatt and Rich Roll are experts at living a plant-fueled lifestyle, and their latest inventive and stunning collection features 125 plant-based recipes for Italy’s best and most-loved dishes. From a simple blackberry kale salad to a decadent eggplant parmesan, there’s a delicious, sustainable meal for every occasion.
Perfect Is Boring
Perfection is nothing to get worked up about, and Tyra Banks and her mom, Carolyn, know it. In this hilarious and motivational co-written memoir, the mother-daughter duo gets real about imperfection caught on camera, body-shaming, sex, and how to be a boss—all lessons they’ve gathered from Tyra’s life journey and Carolyn’s tough love along the way. An ode to all the no-nonsense, supportive mamas out there, it’ll impart new mottos to live by (my favorite: “Fix It or Flaunt It”).
I still remember baking with my mom as a kid, and for good reason. Take it from artist Maira Kalman and food writer Barbara Scott-Goodman: cake isn’t just cake. Cakes are memories. You remember baking them; you remember eating them; you remember presenting them, candles alight, to people you love. With Maira’s whimsical illustrations and Scott-Goodman’s perfect recipes, this is a total treat of a book. Scoop it up, and get to memory-making.
The Female Persuasion
She’s most certainly heard about it—and it’s almost certainly on her TBR list—so surprise her with a shiny new copy of Meg Wolitzer’s latest hit, The Female Persuasion. Shy, college freshman Greer Kadesky is singled out and mentored by the dazzling, Gloria Steinem-like Faith Frank, and swept up into a world of women’s empowerment and ambition. But Greer starts to realize that her feminism might look different than Faith’s, and she has to figure out how to make her own way, while also acknowledging the woman who helped her along. Sure to ignite conversation, why not buy two copies and make a book club of it?
Sarah Winman knows how to write characters that jump off the page. In Tin Man, those characters are Ellis and Michael, young boys and best friends growing up in tumultuous households in Oxford. As they grow, so do their feelings for one another—but then the story jumps ahead a decade to find Ellis married to Annie, and Michael gone. In a haunting story of love, loss, and the power of kindness, Winman reminds us what truly matters in life. Gift it to the mom who could use a day to ignore her to-do list and lose herself in a story she won’t soon forget.
Other People's Houses
Sometimes the cul-de-sac gets…complicated. When Frances Bloom accidentally witnesses her neighbor’s affair, she swears not to get involved—but the indiscretion has a wider reach throughout her community than Frances could have imagined, and before she knows it, her own marriage is on the ropes. Both hilariously irreverent and reverberating with real stakes, Other People’s Houses upends the classic suburban tale. Pair it with a bottle of wine and gift hours of entertainment.
The Moth Presents All These Wonders
If she’s not already an enthusiastic devotee to The Moth, the storytelling sensation celebrating its 20th anniversary of live stories, she will be after reading this collection. With a foreword from Neil Gaiman and 45 of the most memorable stories told over the past two decades—from familiar names like Meg Wolitzer alongside stories from a neuroscientist, one-hit wonder hip-hop star, and refugee, among others—she’ll love the passion and surprise on every page.
Tiny Beautiful Things
Look, I’m not saying the letters to and from Cheryl Strayed (AKA “Sugar”) in this collection will be tear-inducing, soul-stirring, and a balm to past hurts, but I’d put money on one out of three. Every time I’ve spotted this book on a loved one’s shelf, the covers are inevitably worn, and multiple pages dog-eared; I find myself regularly referring to it in heart-to-hearts. The best part is that once Mom’s done with it, the two of you can listen to the Dear Sugar podcast together for weekly doses of comfort.
South and West
She hasn’t read all of Didion until she’s read this: two excerpts from never-before-seen notebooks written by New Journalism pioneer and patron saint of cool customers. As always, Didion’s work is heavily influenced by place—“Notes on the South” follows a road trip she took through Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi in 1970, and “California Notes” began as a piece on the Patty Hearst trial and morphed into a reflection about growing up in Sacramento. Add it to—or start!—her Didion collection.
Particularly for my fellow Midwesterners, this book will hit home (no pun intended). Sarah Menkedick was a world-traveler before moving into a tiny cabin on her family’s Ohio farm and having her first baby. Exploring this new version of herself in the months leading up to and immediately after giving birth, she writes about her grandmother, a single mother who took up traveling later in life; her undeniable Midwestern roots; and the tensions (or lack thereof) between motherhood and creativity. A moving account of the early stages of parenting that’s sure to resound for many.
I Feel Bad About My Neck
Who doesn’t need a little Nora Ephron in their life? Ephron’s delightfully charming and deadpan humor—about menopause, empty-nesting, and (gasp!) topics that aren’t even related to aging—is the perfect gift for a mom who appreciates a good laugh. Bonus points: pair it with a Nora Ephron movie night (best of luck narrowing down your favorites).
The Best Cook in the World
Southern food: may we know it, may we enjoy it, may we make it. The bestselling author of All Over But the Shoutin’ is back with this food-memoir-meets-cookbook-meets-loving-tribute to the woman who raised him. Margaret Bragg doesn’t own a cookbook herself, but she can tell you the secret to the perfect mashed potatoes, butter rolls, and pinto beans with hambone—74 recipes in all, passed down between generations, some as far back as pre-Civil War. Replete with stories of his mother’s lifetime, Rick Bragg’s latest is nourishing in more ways than one.
If you, like me, were so bewildered by this on-again-off-again “spring” that you felt—to put it mildly—totally shocked by the Mother’s Day endcaps popping up all over town, don’t sweat it. We’ve compiled 20 gifts to suit any mom, auntie, grandma, and not-quite-related-but-might-as-well-be maternal figure in your life. You can’t go wrong with any of these bookish gifts, so skip the stress and get to celebrating the women you love.
Featured Image: Klaus Vedfelt