I’m not much for labeling books for Ladies or Dudes. In fact, my husband loved two of these five books quite a lot, and after 23 years of marriage, I can attest to his Dude-ish literary tastes. But the fact of the matter is that some books seem to appeal to women and I’m willing to bet you’ll score a hit with ladies with one or more of these books.
How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran - For that sassy sister or sister–in-law who shares advice on all things womanly. The one you who knows all your embarrassing secrets. They’ll fall in love with Caitlin Moran’s honest and hilarious recounting of her journey to womanhood and the constant upkeep required in mind and spirit. This is a salty feminist manifesto for your friends who are too tired to read Shulamith Firestone and who love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Protip: Have Kleenex handy – you’ll laugh until you cry.
The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon - Does your best friend need a little romance in her life? An escape from dirty diapers or that horrid boss? Give her the gift of James Alexander Malcom Mackenzie Fraser. She will thank you for it. Epic historical fiction with a twist of fantasy and generous dollop of true love, as an English nurse from 1945 falls through standing stones to 1743 to confront the Jacobite uprising and the person of Jamie, the Highlander of your dreams. These books (seven in the series, soon to be eight) inspire a rabid fandom and will give your friend re-read material for the ages.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell - Do you remember that feeling of falling in love, where every aching second of holding someone’s hand is an eternity? Every glance, song lyric, accidently shoulder rub could sustain or torture you for days? No? I didn’t either, but it all came back to me when I read Eleanor and Park, and beautiful (and heartbreaking) tale of first love. Great dialogue and emotional pacing.
Longbourn by Jo Baker - Does your wife make you watch Pride and Prejudice at least once a year? Not the wimpy two hour version, but the entire BBC version with a dripping wet Colin Firth? Call off the hounds – the search for her gift is over. Many Pride and Prejudice sequels, updates and parodies have been written, but Loungourn stands out as an actual winner. Jo Baker’s novel follows the life of the “downstairs” inhabitants of the Bennett estate, Mrs. Hill the Housekeeper and especial Sarah, one of the maids. Austen fans should love this book, but it could also stand alone.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker - Not a new book, but a gorgeous book about the strength of women, the limits of the human spirit and the pain and pleasure of the individual lives of women. Watching Celie and awaken to herself and claim her voice changed my life, so it always makes it onto my “what to read” list.