• Erin Zaranec

Best Books to Gift

I love gifting a good book. I think it’s so special and personal to give someone a book because something in it reminds you of them, or it's full of knowledge you know they’d want in on.


With the holiday season around the corner, here are a few of my best book recommendations for gift giving.This list is based on books I have personally read - if you have any go-to gifting books, let me know!


Don’t forget to shop small this holiday season! If you aren’t comfortable going back into stores just yet, you can use Bookshop.com to support local bookstores through online shopping.


For the history buff in your life


The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls tells the stories of women exposed to what was once the “wonder substance” of the times - radium. Weaving together the stories of women who were facing their own mortality after the effects of radium take over their lives, this book is a must read that shed light on history that has had a lasting impact on the world today through life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombs, and more.


Fever by Mary Beth Keane

An account of historical fiction about Typhoid Mary, the first known carrier of typhoid fever in the early twentieth century. The book is a moving account of a woman living in isolation to protect the world at large. In the world of COVID-19, it’s a bit chilling to think about how Mary’s story would have functioned in today’s society.


For your favorite the social justice warrior


Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

You may have seen the movie, but the book (as always) is just a bit better. Bryan Stevenson went from a young lawyer to one of the largest names in the social justice community by founding the Equal Justice Initiative. His journey wasn’t, and still isn’t, easy and every page sheds more light on the reasons why Stevenson’s work is so vital.


The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton

Hinton, a client of Bryan Stevenson, was arrested in 1985 and charged with two counts of capital murder in Southern Alabama. A poor black man from the south, the justice system did him no favors - even when evidence was shown that proved he could not have committed the crimes. Sentenced to death by electrocution, Hinton sat on death row until 2015 when Stevenson helped win Hinton’s release.


Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality by Debbie Cenziper

A behind-the-scenes look at Obergefell v. Hodges, the court cast that provided the fundamental right for gay couples to marry across all 50 states. This case, named the most important case for gay rights in U.S. history, formed the foundation for equal protection for same-sex couples - from parental rights to being able to be named as a partner on a death certificate. The book gives moving accounts from the families involved in the case and opens the curtain on a huge historical event.


She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

Harvey Weinstein’s longstanding history of sexual harassment and abuse hit the headlines in 2017 and two female reporters brought the story to life. This book shapes the background of those headlines - the women involved, the trust the reporters had to gain, and the story that shook the entertainment world.


For the person whose still trying to figure it all out (aka… everyone)


Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Glennon Doyle shook up her whole life to take a shot at true happiness (literally - she left her husband for a woman she had met in person only one time, but felt an undeniable spark with). She writes so powerfully of the longings many women face: to be a good daughter, a good wife, a good sister, a good employee, a good friend - and how to accomplish any of those you have to focus on what’s most important: being good to YOU.


Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who found herself in therapy. And I absolutely love that. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone isn’t a self-help book, but definitely leaves the reader with some big-picture life lessons and tips. From inside the mind of a therapist who helps clients while needing a bit of help herself, this book is one that I’ll be recommending for the foreseeable future.


No Happy Endings by Nora McInerny

Nora McInerny knows loss - in 2014, she miscarried a baby, lost her husband, and lost her father - all within six weeks. She knows loss so personally and writes about it so honestly. No Happy Endings is a book about just that - there’s no guaranteed happy ending all tied up in a bow, but there is always a new beginning. Even for readers who have not suffered great loss, McInerny puts life into a perspective that all should read.


For the badass women in your circle


The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict

Before picking up this book, I didn’t even know the name Hedy Lamarr. After reading, I was scouring the internet for any additional information I could find on her. Lamarr, a film star in the 30s, married a man who she soon discovered was working in collaboration with the Nazis. Lamarr did not sit idly by, she worked to create an invention that would aid in bringing down the Nazi troops and would have a lasting impact on society (uhm, hi Wifi!). I LOVE gifting this to the smart, strong, capable women in my life.


The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

Another historical fiction piece by Marie Benedict, this one about Mitza Maric who would become Mitza Einstein -Albert Einsten’s first wife. Mitza was a brilliant woman but her contributions to Einstein’s success have been lost throughout history. This novel brings her out of the shadows and into the spotlight she deserves.


Gifting books not your thing? No biggie - a ‘shop small’ gift guide is coming soon to help you navigate supporting local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.