It’s December, which means that students are a) stressing out about finals and b) stressing out about what gifts to get for their family and friends. I mean, what do you even give to someone who means the world to you? How can you find a gift that expresses just how much you appreciate their existence?
I still haven’t figured that out myself, but in the meantime I think books are a pretty good option. I looked through the lists of books my friends and I have enjoyed over the past couple of years and settled on seven books that would make good gifts for the book-loving collegiette in your life. All are about women in some way, and most of them were written by women, too!
It’s All Absolutely Fine: Life Is Complicated So I’ve Drawn It Instead by Ruby Elliot
I’ve been a big fan of Ruby Elliot’s art for the past few years now. You may have seen her Rubyetc comic strips on Tumblr or Facebook! It’s All Absolutely Fine has something for everyone, as she muses upon everything from mental health and body positivity to friendships and adulting. Her drawings are simplistic, yet hilarious and endlessly expressive. I majorly related to just about everything discussed in it, either the comics themselves or the short, chatty essays that appear between sections. If you’ve been feeling like older adults just don’t understand what you’re going through or just need some comfort to get through the weird, weird time known as your early twenties, this is definitely the book to go for.
Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood by Brian Azzarello
Who here has seen the new Wonder Woman movie?! (Um, it better be all of you. If not, make some popcorn and get watching ASAP.) While there are a ton of comic books about her, Azzarello’s series is the one the film was primarily based upon. With strong female friendships, a massive and quirky cast of characters that includes Greek gods and goddesses, and incredibly kickass full-page drawings of our favorite superheroine, this first volume is a super quick read and, for those who haven’t read many comics, a good introduction to the genre!
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Perhaps you watched the HBO miniseries based on this book. Why not give the original a try? Unlike the show, which is set in California, the book takes place in Australia, which for me was one of the best parts: I feel like there just aren’t that many bestsellers set there! All three narrators are women (and mothers) and I thought Moriarty captured the complexities and joys of female friendship very accurately. Although Big Little Lies is about a small-town murder and the mysterious circumstances surrounding it, I laughed out loud many times while reading it because the characters are so petty and always dreaming up ridiculous ways to get revenge for perceived wrongs.
Why I March: Images from the Women’s March Around the World by Samantha Weiner
Are photo essays more your thing? This slim book features images from every continent -yes, that includes Antarctica- taken during the protest marches that happened on January 21st of this year. The solidarity between women (and people in general) shown in these photographs is reassuring; even though I was at the March on Washington, months later it’s still hard to wrap my mind around how so many people came together to support one cause.
Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History… and Our Future! by Kate Schatz
Are you in need of more role models? Yes. Yes, you are. Rad American Women A-Z was a fun way to learn a little more about history since it is, well, a little book. Just the sight of an enormous history textbook makes me want to take a nap, so if you’re in the same boat but want a better understanding of women’s history and feminist icons, this is a good alternative.
The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure by Caroline Paul
Especially around this time of year, our ordinary lives can feel a bit stifling. We could all use more adventure in our day! Through a combination of stories about the author’s own experiences (which include climbing the Golden Gate Bridge and becoming one of the first female firefighters), as well as suggested activities to make you more confident and self-reliant, such as exploring or positive self-talk. The Gutsy Girl encourages us to expand our boundaries just a little further in order to lead a more fulfilling life.
Now Go Out There (And Get Curious) by Mary Karr
Containing the text of a 2015 commencement address at Syracuse University, Now Go Out There would be a wonderful book to dive into as this year comes to an end and another one begins. It’s safe and easy to withdraw into ourselves when the going gets rough, but Mary Karr gently yet firmly insists that we can’t let that happen. Just a few of her topics include how to cope with setbacks, how to stop categorizing experiences as entirely bad or entirely good, and how to handle having your heart broken.
Happy holidays, collegiettes! In between writing papers and studying for finals, I hope you remember to make time for yourself and your personal needs, because de-stressing is essential for good mental health. Whether or not your go-to method of relaxing is reading, it can’t hurt to try one of the books on this list- or to give one to a collegiette who might appreciate curling up with a good book!