Life of the Party
Long-time fans of poetry know just how amazing Olivia Gatwood is, but even if you rarely read poems, this collection is worth picking up. Gatwood’s poems are about femininity and sexuality, as well as those who would take advantage of that. They are blistering and raw and will stay with you for a long time.
The story of two different people, this novel is about where you go in life and what you leave behind. Connor is a star at his high school, while Marianne doesn’t fit in. But when they arrive at the same college, the situation is reversed. Over their schooling, they weave in and out of one another’s lives as they try to find a place for themselves—and their place with each other.
In this collection of letters to her two daughters, comedian Ali Wong tackles different life lessons, from being single in New York City to the horrors—and wonders—of being a parent. They are, of course, witty and funny, but these letters are also beautiful, thoughtful, and will absolutely move you to tears. They’re perfect for sharing with any friend who has a daughter.
This gorgeous saga transports readers to 1960s New York, where two families joined by marriage must make their way through turbulent times. When Rufus Vincent, an Irish-American, marries Claudia Christie, a young Black woman, they and their families must make sense of this new union that crosses racial lines. The book goes back and forth between different family members, telling the story of not just one group of people but an entire generation.
This bestselling YA novel, billed as a female Lord of the Flies, is one you’ll want to talk about with all your friends. When a devastating plague hits, the Raxter School for Girls is put under quarantine—no one in and no one out. Eighteen months later, they’re still waiting for a cure. When Hetty’s best friend, Byatt, goes missing in the dark and dangerous woods surrounding the school, she decides to brave what’s out there to find her friend—and maybe she’ll find some answers along the way.
More Than Enough
Good friends constantly remind us that we’re enough just as we are, and that’s what Elaine Welteroth’s memoir underlines. Welteroth was constantly underestimated and treated as inferior as a Black woman trying to make her way up the ranks in the fashion industry. This mix of memoir and self-help from the woman who reinvented the magazine Teen Vogue is the perfect gift for any friend who might need some motivation and inspiration.
The Reckless Oath We Made
Zee doesn’t think she’s beautiful but shy, autistic Gentry would disagree. Listening to the voices in his head, he keeps watch over her while Zee tries to take care of her household despite the constant pain from her hip problems. But when the unthinkable happens and Zee needs help, she turns to the unlikeliest person: Gentry. From then on, the two are bound together in an unlikely and beautiful way.
Martha Hall Kelly
Years ago, Eliza Ferriday traveled through Russia with her friend Sofya, a cousin to the Romanovs, and got to see the splendors of the czars. Soon after, though, the Romanov dynasty fell. Still, Eliza has received regular letters from Sofya, assuring her safety—but now, those letters have stopped, causing Eliza to fear the worst. Now, Eliza must decide how far she’s willing to go to find out what might have happened to her friend.
Ellie and the Harpmaker
Dan doesn’t always understand the niceties of social convention, which is why he’s happy to live alone in the woods and carve harps in the English countryside. When Ellie Jacobs, who is mourning her father, comes across his studio, she’s intrigued. She begins making regular visits to Dan, charmed by his personality quirks, and she learns that his quiet way of doing things might just be ideal.
The Sweetest Fruits
The Sweetest Fruits follows a writer named Lafcadio Hearn, who travels around the world to learn different women’s stories in the mid-to-late 1800s. He meets three different women, one in Europe, one in America, and one in Asia, and affects each of their lives in different ways. Through their differing portraits of him, readers are able to get a sense of who Hearn was—but also who these unsung women were.
Fleishman Is in Trouble
Fleishman is in Trouble has been everywhere this year, and for good reason. Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s debut novel about New York City doctor Toby Fleishman’s separation from his wife and his thoughts on what might have gone wrong is a sharp and witty reflection on interpersonal dynamics and relationships. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and above all, you’ll be thoroughly entertained.
To many people, books are a form of love, which is why they can be such a deep and personal gift. Books are an extension of who we are, and by giving one to someone, we’re telling them about what we think of them, while also giving them a window into ourselves. Books are perfect gifts for your best friend: you can share a book you loved and want to discuss or one that helped you through a difficult time. All the books on this list would make thoughtful, well-considered gifts for a good friend.
Featured Photo by Jinny Kwon and Abbe Wright