Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Savvy Reader Book Gift List

As I was contemplating what to buy friends and family this holiday season I realized many of my favorite reads of 2013 would make excellent gifts. Here is my hypothetical gift list:

For my friend and colleague Kate:

Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. This is the best career book I‘ve read in years and one that I wish I’d read earlier in my career. I recommend this book for any woman who is looking to re-charge her career.

As a companion read I would include:

Debora L. Spar’s Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection.Spar is the president of Barnard College and has written a book about how our culture has evolved in the last 50-years. She details how women struggled to gain power, but instead ended up caught in an endless quest for perfection. I found myself nodding in agreement as Spar describes how women today try to be the perfect wife, the perfect mother and the perfect career person. 

For my sister who is the mother of three children under the age of eight:

Crystal Ponti's The Mother of All Meltdowns: Real Stories of Moms' Finest (Worst, Completely Awful) Moments. When I saw the look on my sister’s face as her 4-year old kept insisting he wasn’t wearing pants or shoes on our outing I realized perhaps motherhood is much harder than I realized. After reading the melt-down moments the authors share in this book I hope my sister learns she is not alone and that there is no such thing as a perfect mom or child. Please see Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection from above.

For my niece who will be moving to Santa Monica by herself next year:

Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence. This book explores how fear is a gift that can be used to keep us safe and explains how we can spot even subtle signs of danger—before it’s too late. Gavin teaches us how to listen to and trust our intuition. I recommend this book to anyone who will be living on their own for the first time.

For the niece who is graduating from college this December and has nothing constructive to do until grad school begins next fall:

Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. It could be a coincidence, but after reading this book I snapped out of the funk I had been in for almost a year. I recommend this book - a compilation of Strayed’s Dear Sugar advice columns - to any young adult approaching their quarter-life crises.

For my non-fiction loving friend who read and enjoyed Robert K. Massie's Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman after learning of it from this blog post:

George Parker's The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America. I am currently reading this book and am amazed by how comprehensive it is. Packer follows the lives of several Americans over the past three decades. In doing so he describes how America which was once a super power is beginning to become undone. I recommend this book for anyone who likes to read about current events or who is interested in the increasing disparity between the rich and poor.
Please note, I am an Amazon affiliate

What was your favorite reads of the year? Would you give them as gifts?


  1. I would gift every young woman I know the book "Lean In." It's so inspirational.

  2. Ooo.. Some of these books sound really good! I may have to get a few of them for myself. :-)

  3. i saw this list of books and thought of you!

  4. There's another book I'd add that's not as well known as these but I'm on my second time through and loving called "Zero to Zillionaire" by Chellie Campbell. Some great principles outlined in there.

  5. Tiny Beautiful Things and The Unwinding are some of my favorites from this year and I've bought Tiny Beautiful Things for no less than five people since I read it. Great gift choices!

  6. My favorites of the year were Life After Life for fiction and One Thousand Gifts for nonfiction. I'd give them both as gifts! Good post!

  7. Lean In is the perfect gift for a woman - whether they are a reader or not! :D

    Great list! Thanks for linking up to the Spread the Love Linky Party! I've also pinned this!

  8. These books sound great!

  9. I can't wait to read The Unwinding. I'm a big politics buff and love the sweeping histories that make sense.

  10. Catherine,
    Agreed - it would make such a wonderful graduation gift.

  11. Susannah,
    If you do, be sure to let me know your thoughts. Thanks for stopping in.

  12. Stefanie,
    Thanks for the recommendation. I'm adding it to my reading list.

  13. Shannon,
    I am sure I discovered The Unwinding on your site. Thanks so much for blogging about it.

  14. Jennine G,
    Thanks for sharing I've heard good things about Life After Life. I'm not familiar with One Thousand Gifts, but will look into it.

  15. The Book Wheel,
    Well said. I like a good sweeping history that makes sense too. One of these days I need to spend some serious time on your website. Thanks for stopping in.