These 25 New Books Would Make The Perfect Gift

Photo: Courtesy of Doubleday.
Books are our go-to gifts for the holidays, and we'll tell you why. We all have budgets, and books don't cost a lot. We happen to still be suckers for the tactile thrill offered by physical books, which usually ring up at under $25. And if the person you're shopping for has an iPad, Kindle, or other e-reader, you're looking at 10 bucks or less.

Plus, books are very personal gifts. You really can't scoop up a title at random; choosing the right one takes a little time and thought about the receiver. There's one for everybody on your list: inspiring memoirs for your friends; sci-fi YA for your nieces and nephews; historical volumes that are the literary equivalent of a Ken Burns documentary for your parents; travel books for anyone with wanderlust; and cookbooks or self-help titles for your S.O. — a sneaky way of giving a gift to yourself without actually doing so. Oh, and lest we forget: Books are easy to wrap. (And e-books, of course, don't need any wrapping at all.) At this time of year, that counts for a lot!
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Here are 25 recently published books that we think would make awesome presents this year. Warning: We went heavy on the badass books written by and for women. Hey, nobody has to know you read it first.

No matter who you're shopping for or what your budget is, Refinery29 has all the holiday picks you need right here.
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Photo: Courtesy of Deckle Edge.
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
The authority on the modern memoir, Karr has over three decades of experience under her belt, including penning three critically acclaimed, gritty accounts of her own, and nurturing talents like her former student Cheryl Strayed. Her latest best seller is both a celebration of and blueprint for the genre, chock-full of wisdom but never condescending or dull.
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Photo: Courtesy of St. Martin's Press
Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton
Stanton dives deeper into the lives of strangers in his new volume. The photos are as moving as ever, but it’s the stories of the people in them that will stay with you. The candid conversations are as wildly diverse as the New Yorkers he interviews. You’ll be astonished at how connected you can feel to somebody you’ve never met.
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Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead Books.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
The first thing to know about the Eat, Pray, Love author’s foray into self-help is that it's not just for the artists and auteurs in your life —virtually anyone can reap priceless benefits from reading it. Gilbert’s advice strikes a balance between adult practicality and a childlike sense of wonder. She empowers you to escape the grip of your own self-doubt and fear — and revel in the big, brave magic of self-expression and creativity.
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Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead.
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
Watkins paints a terrifically haunting vision of a not-too-distant future U.S. that is marred by deadly drought and a colossal dune, the result of human recklessness. The novel crackles with fever-dream prose and is intimately narrated by a strong, flawed female lead.
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Photo: Courtesy of Random House.
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
The journalist and social justice champion takes us along on her whirlwind of a life, largely spent on the road. According to Steinem, the time she spent traveling was key to unleashing the thoughts and actions that have made her the radical thinker and activist she is. She makes a good case — it's fascinating to read about Steinem immersing herself in different cultures, experiencing discomfort, and connecting with people she never would've encountered if she stayed in one place.
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Photo: Courtesy of Spiegel & Grau.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
If you’re going to read one book on race in America this year, make it this one. Coates explores a sprawling topic of a very public discussion in a very personal way, through a letter to his son. Intelligent and thought provoking, this is in essence a nuanced meditation on the vulnerabilities and complexities of what it means to be a Black American in 2015. The revelatory volume recently took home a National Book Award.
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Photo: Courtesy of Cinder Apple Press.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 150th Anniversary: Food in Literature Edition by Lewis Carroll & Buffy Naillon
Anyone who likes a good tale, colorful art, and food will love this unusual new edition of the Lewis Carroll classic. This 150th anniversary version focuses on the fantastic food in Alice, complete with annotations to the culture of food in Victorian times, whimsical illustrations, and mouthwatering recipes. A quirky take on a timeless work.
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Photo: Courtesy of Crown.
Spinster by Kate Bolick
Bolick, fed up with all the negative connotations around the word "spinster," decided to reclaim the term and reinvent our views of singlehood. Why is it a bad thing? The book is an entertaining, personal read about Bolick's adventuresome life and her choice to be single. But she also examines the the reasons behind a social phenomenon: why millions more women are opting out of the institution of marriage than ever before.
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Photo: Courtesy of St. Martin's Press.
The Last Love Song by Tracy Daugherty
It’s hard to believe that this is the first comprehensive biography of female pioneer of New Journalism Joan Didion. The literary icon’s life story is as engaging as the work she left behind, from her California childhood to her fiery marriage/writing partnership — and both the glamor and hardship of life in the public eye.
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Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic Books.
Rarely Seen: Photographs of the Extraordinary by Susan Tyler Hitchcock
National Geographic has something of a monopoly on getting cameras in front of the most astonishing happenings in nature. This collection is full of natural wonders all over the world that most of humanity never gets to see: incredibly rare sightings, plants, events, elements, animals, and more. They range from a 50-ton crystal to uncommon desert flowers in full blossom. A coffee table stunner.
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Photo: Courtesy of Doubleday.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
You may want to include a pack of tissues with this gift: There's no getting around the fact that this wrenching masterpiece will put you through the emotional wringer. In this profound novel about four longtime friends in New York, Yanagihara paints a portrait of the complexities and challenges of lives interwoven in the 21st century. The themes range from the life-altering consequences of childhood trauma, addiction, and loss to the saving grace of friendship and finding light in the darkness. By no means an easy read, but one of the richest and most rewarding in years.
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Photo: Courtesy of Dey Street Books.
Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been blazing trails for women and civil rights for decades when she became meme-ified into an internet sensation. And while the idea of recasting an 82-year-old Jewish grandmother as a rap icon is hilarious, this biography is no joke. It's a comprehensive look at how the groundbreaking Ginsburg changed the game for women in and out of the courtroom.
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Photo: Courtesy of Artisan.
The Dogist by Elias Weiss Friedman
Based on Friedman's popular blog of the same name, this photography book will delight any dog-lover. It's full of pictures of every kind of canine imaginable. And the creatively shot portraits are alternately funny, spirited, regal, adorable, and soul-stirring.
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Photo: Courtesy of Spiegel & Grau.
Rising Strong by Brené Brown
Despite the name, Brown isn't one for the flowery, uplifting guru talk you so often find in self-help books. The renowned social scientist puts her PhD to work in this well-researched, empowering examination of how successful, happy people learn and rebound from their failures.
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Photo: Courtesy of Flatiron Books.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Lawson’s fearless memoir is a roller coaster of a read, swinging from the hilarious to the heartbreaking with the turn of a page. She stares down the demons of depression with such ferocity and transparency that you’ll be crippled with laughter and then cringing with anxiety — all in one chapter.
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Photo: Courtesy of Penguin.
Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere by Zach Klein & Steven Leckart
It's kind of just what it sounds like. What started as a scrapbook among friends has become a volume of magical forest dwellings all over the world. Looking at the quaint abodes and picture-perfect natural settings will transport you away from the chaos and babble of modern life into a quiet, serene escape. For the most stressed person you know.
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Photo: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
You wouldn't expect the queen of prime time herself — who's created some of the strongest female characters on TV, like Olivia Pope — to be shy and afraid of discomfort. But the Shondaland queen was that woman until an epiphany prompted her to embark on a year of saying "yes" to everything. This intimate, exhilarating memoir about Rhimes opening herself up to the world and finding her inner badass will inspire you to do the same.
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Photo: Courtesy of Arthur A. Levine Books
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling & Jim Kay (Illustrator)
The latest must-have addition to any true H.P. fan’s collection is this exquisitely illustrated edition of Sorcerer’s Stone. The book was first published 16 years ago by a struggling writer and single mom who had no idea her book would go on to become one of the most popular (and lucrative) franchises in history. Award-winning artist Jim Kay’s charming 100-plus illustrations add a new dimension of magic to the story that started it all.
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Photo: Courtesy of Deckle Edge.
Find a Way by Diana Nyad
The world was stunned when Nyad, 64 at the time, did what no other human ever has — and what she herself had tried and failed to do several times as a younger athlete. In 2013, Nyad swam the 111 miles of open water from Cuba to Key West in just 53 hours without a shark cage. Her memoir will remind you that you're never too old to reach for your dreams.
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Photo: Courtesy of Penguin.
Emma: 200th Anniversary Annotated Edition by Jane Austen
Jane Austen's classic story gets a little extra love in this new release. The 200th anniversary edition is thoughtfully and thoroughly annotated. It's incredible that two full centuries later, the themes in this witty read — love, independence, friendship — still resonate. And Emma remains one of the greatest heroines in literature.
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Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Press.
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari with Eric Klinenberg
It’s no shock that Aziz Ansari’s first stab at nonfiction is laugh-out-loud hilarious, but the intelligence of this broad study on millennial love will surprise you. (The fact that it’s co-written by a sociologist may have a lot to do with that.) Ansari clarifies how technology has revolutionized the culture of love and dating while riffing on the absurdities of Tinder, text breakups, and the like.
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Photo: Courtesy of Perigee.
All the Words Are Yours by Tyler Knott Gregson
Anyone who appreciates a good haiku or love poem will treasure this book. Gregson couples his love haikus — he's written one every single day for six years — with equally intimate photographs. A quiet and beautiful read, perfect for thumbing through when you need a 30-second break to relax.
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Photo: Courtesy of teNeues.
How We Live by Marcia Prentice
There is a theory that particular spaces are home to artistic vibes and that creativity can be inspired by an environment. If that sounds like bullshit to you, take a look at photographer Maria Prentice's beautiful volume. A hybrid between an interior design book and a travel journal, these pages look inside the homes of 18 people around the world. You get an intimate look at how artists live, from Marrakech to Reykjavik.

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Photo: Courtesy of Knopf.
M Train by Patti Smith
This gorgeously written autobiography takes us into the hidden Greenwich Village cafés and fabulous locales — like Frida Kahlo's famous Casa Azul — that Smith frequented to create and to play throughout her textured life. The musician often departs from the here and now — to the past, to her dreams — and touches on everything from grief to artistry. And the personal polaroids alongside her words really make it feel like a travel diary.
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Photo: Courtesy of Riverhead Books.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
If you like The Affair, you’ll love this National Book Award finalist from the best-selling Arcadia author. Love, secrecy, sex, betrayal — and indeed, fury — infuse this masterfully crafted dual-narrative of a husband and wife who experience their marriage disarmingly differently from each other.
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