It can be really hard to shop for friends around the holiday season, but a tried and true gift is a good book. What’s better than one friend giving another some wisdom or a good laugh during the holiday season? Books are companions that we carry with us for a lifetime. I'm sure we can all think of a few books that really changed our perspective and helped get us to where we are today.

Books are especially helpful in times of great need. Maybe you have a friend who is supremely stressed or down in the dumps. No matter what is going on in her life, a little extra support from a friend like you means a lot. Maybe you don’t have the right words to say, but someone else might! Here are some great books — ranging from self-help to love stories — to give to that friend who just needs a little boost this holiday season. 

Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself by Anneli Rufus

This isn’t just for any old friend. Some people might take the title of this book as a bad sign, especially when received as a gift. This is more for the friend who knows that she’s always too down about herself and wants to work on becoming better at loving herself. 

Around the Way Girl: A Memoir by Taraji P. Henson

Sometimes what we need to hear is a true success story. Taraji P. Henson is a model of success who shares stories of her journey (even failures along the way) to become the icon we all know today. 

  1. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Is there any more that needs to be said other than Beyoncé herself quoted Adichie in a song? This is great for that friend who is still exploring what it means to be a woman in society today. 

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister

You might have a friend who is always killing it in every realm except the relationship department. This book details the impact of single women on America as a whole over the course of the last 50 years. It’s so empowering that it might even have those of us who are in relationships question if we even really need to be with someone else (we don’t).

  1. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

It might not be your first instinct to give your friend a story about a dead teenager, but Ng’s book is a great account of a complicated family dynamic that resonates with anybody who has ever had to deal with race, ambition or expectations. 

  1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Honestly, sometimes the best thing we can do is have a good cry. This book (recently made into a movie) is a definite tear-jerker that will have your friend in cathartic tears by the end of it. 

  1. I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi

This book by our fave Luvvie Ajayi is a series of essays covering everything from social media and friendship to representation in media and technology. It might be just the thing your friend needs to get off the Internet and into a real book. 

Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking That Block Women’s Paths to Power by Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt

Maybe your friend is having a hard time getting ahead in the workplace. This book is guaranteed to inspire her to move up the corporate ladder.

  1. Get Your Shit Together by Sarah Knight

This is for your hot mess of a friend who doesn’t even know where to start when it comes to picking up the pieces of her life. 

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

It seems like everybody is obsessed with everything Issa Rae is doing. Not only is Insecure a hit TV show with rave reviews, but Rae’s book is also a great source of her unique humor and perspective on this world. It’ll definitely cheer up that friend who is getting over her break-up by binge-watching shows.

  1. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

In this book, Roxane Gay takes us on the path that led her to being the woman and feminist she is today. This is an empowering story for all of us still struggling to be the feminists and women that we want to be. 

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

Comedian Phoebe Robinson is fed up with being your black friend. Maybe your friend is, too. This is for all the women who’ve ever felt out of place at work or on the subway. You should also check out her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, which she co-hosts with Jessica Williams. 

  1. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Sometimes all you need is to be transported to another land and time by a great book. Zadie Smith calls it “one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century.” Give this to your friend who needs an escape and loves getting wrapped up in a good book.