The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off!
If you send inspirational Instagrams in group chats, enjoy sharing the quotable wisdom of feminist activist Gloria Steinem. Artist Samantha Dion Baker illustrates everything from the titular rallying cry to life advice (“Many are looking for the right person. Too few are trying to be the right person”), to contributions from Michelle Obama and bell hooks.
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
Linking 2017’s #MeToo revelations with Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony in 2018, journalists Kantor and Twohey draw a line from the harrowing process of breaking the Harvey Weinstein story (with insight into sources, sabotage, and stumbles) with the forces that brought Ford forward to tell her own story—not a “he said, she said,” but solely a “she said.”
Red at the Bone
Mothers and daughters alike will gravitate to this multigenerational tale about the parents of a pair of teenagers who get pregnant, and their offspring’s own coming-of-age. Though the story begins with 16-year-old Melody, Woodson’s prose traces back to Iris—abandoning teen motherhood for college dreams—and to the traumas that shaped Melody’s grandmother Sabe.
Evvie Drake Starts Over
A widow who doesn’t mourn her husband meets a baseball player with the yips in a squee-worthy romance that’s also about two individuals learning how to move on. For her debut novel, Pop Culture Happy Hour host Linda Holmes decided she would write the kind of book she wanted to read and the result is divine.
In the style of Patti Smith’s memoir-in-essays M Train, beloved singer-songwriter Liz Phair recounts the moments in her life that haunt her—an ill-advised affair with an attached bandmate, playing bystander to a passed-out girl in a bathroom, watching her grandmother fade, her aborted collaboration with Ryan Adams—with bracing honesty.
Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur
Of a Kind co-founders Cerulo and Mazur’s joint memoir draws upon nearly two decades of friendship and their relationship as work wives. What’s more, it features interviews with other female duos or groups across pop culture and sports, from the Call Your Girlfriend podcast co-hosts to Olympic volleyball legends Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings.
A New England prep school in 2009 is the backdrop for this pre-#MeToo thriller depicting “boys will be boys” traditions and tensions. At Stonebridge Academy, the discovery of the Darkroom, an online forum in which Stonebridge’s boys mercilessly critique their sexual conquests, spurs female students and faculty into vengeful action and uprising.
Widow, single mother, and ambitious career lawyer Kate thought she gave her three children the best possible life following their father’s death. But in just one summer, Tamara, Anthony, and Claire shock their mother with a broken engagement, an affair, and a baby out of wedlock—and the humbling knowledge that Mom doesn’t always know what’s best.
Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault
Those missing the “AACK!” of Guisewite’s Cathy comic strip will feel like they’re greeting an old friend. The famously vulnerable cartoonist ended her strip in 2010 after 34 years in order to be a better mother and daughter, only to see everything change without her permission. She’s returned to sharing her relatable insecurities, this time in an essay collection.
The Unwinding of the Miracle
Yip-Williams’ posthumous memoir begins with what should have been her death at two months old and unfolds into a joyous account of the life no one thought she’d have, ultimately cut short at 42 by metastatic colon cancer. In self-reflective essays and heart-clenching letters to her daughters, Yip-Williams faces her mortality with honest anger and courageous humor.
Mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, girlfriends, wives, work wives, mentors, mentees—every woman you know contains multitudes. For your holiday shopping, you need a gift guide that reflects that. Perhaps the perfect book bridges intergenerational feminism ranging from Gloria Steinem’s speeches to the investigative journalism that broke #MeToo, or it’s a novel about reinvention and reconciliation. Maybe the best way to wrap up 2019 is with self-reflection in the form of candid memoirs from singer-songwriter Liz Phair, the creator of the Cathy comic strip, or the courageous late writer Julie Yip-Williams. Whoever you’re shopping for, you’ll find an unforgettable voice for her to connect to in this list.
Featured Photo by Jinny Kwon and Abbe Wright