I always hesitate when it comes to giving a book as a gift, especially one I loved, for fear that the person receiving it will think it’s terrible – this is especially true when I’m choosing something for my sister as we’re so close – I particularly want to give her a story she’ll resonate with. It’s tricky territory, but whether you’ve a younger or older sister to pick for, my advice would always be to go with your gut – if you enjoyed it, and it kept you turning pages, you’re on to a good one. Here are five reads we’re betting she’d love to see under the tree this Christmas:
PAULINA & FRAN BY RACHEL B. GLASER
I read this in one sitting, and though the novel goes into the well-worn territory of love, sex, female friendship (and curly hair), the writing feels fresh, and it’s extremely visual and witty. The title characters Paulina, and Fran (neither hugely likeable) are two American art students who form a brief friendship that defines their early life. You’ll find yourself enticed into their world. An engaging read that I couldn’t put down.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Novelist and hiker extraordinaire Cheryl Strayed embarked on an amazing 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in the United Sates in 1995 as a journey of self-discovery following her mother’s death, and this had a profound effect on her life. Her experience formed the basis of a best-selling novel and film Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. While the film was a good effort, it doesn’t compare to Strayed’s writing which is raw, brilliant and emotive. She’s at a crossroads; distraught and looking to start again as she begins her redemptive trek and by the end of it all, her life outlook has completely changed. It’s a gorgeous, riveting, and open-hearted read.
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
This is a gripping Young Adult novel which looks at how society’s attitudes towards young women today might pan out in a dystopian future. We follow best friends Freida and Isabel as they venture into their 16th year where selection as a “companion” for a male is a growing concern – the alternative is too harrowing to contemplate. It may be YA (and the Margret Atwood comparisons have been noted by almost everyone), but it’s a compelling, beautiful read from a brilliant writer; everyone I recommended it to devoured it.
Sex Object: A Memoir by Jessica Valenti
Jessica Valenti, a US blogger, and writer is easily one of the most recognisable feminists of her generation, and her memoir, Sex Objects, is a funny, sometimes heartbreaking look at her life and her daily experiences with sexism and misogyny. It’s one to read and enjoy over the festive break and any Lena Dunham fan will love it.
The Girls by Emma Cline
This one is everywhere but believe the hype; it is simply brilliant. The year is 1969 and unsure Evie is fascinated and slowly lured in by members of a mysterious cult and its enigmatic yet creepy leader, Russell. She’s lonely, she’s enthralled, she yearns to fit in. Based on Charles Manson and the infamous gruesome murders of the late sixties, Cline’s focus is on the impulses that drove his female acolytes to their dark and drastic actions.