Holigay Gift Guide: Gift a F*cking Book

Hey there starship troopers! It’s the holiday season and we’re here to help you get your shit together in a variety of ways: recipes, kits, gift guides, holiday how-tos and so very much more. Come along with us, won’t you, to Autostraddle Holigays 2011! FYI, if you follow the amazon links from our website when making holiday purchases, Autostraddle gets a little percentage of that money via our Amazon affiliates account, so we encourage you to do that All Season Long!! Thank you!

As you know, there is no greater gift than the gift of reading. It keeps on giving, even. Everybody you love wants a book, because if they don’t want a book, you probably don’t love then. Unless it’s your family.

I’ve arranged this epic gift list by “types of people in your neighborhood.” Your Mom isn’t on here, but she is here, and regardless; I’ve always found it funny how a bookstore recommends things “Mom will love.” Like there is absolutely no possible way that every single mother has something in common with one another besides broken hymens. Anyhow I probably did something like that here, but I really did try not to.

By the way, when I book-gift someone it’s usually Stephen Dunn New & Selected Poems or Between Angels (the latter because I like the paper the book cover is printed on), duh. I tried to focus here on gifty books — if you want general reading suggestions, check out all of these things.



Good Books For Gifting

The Children-at-Heart

Every Thing On It Shel Silverstein – Shel Silverstein, author of Where the Sidewalk Ends and a few other spectacular books, died in 1999. This is a brand-new book assembled by his longtime editor, and it contains 130 brand-new never-before-seen poems & drawings.

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes (Calvin & Hobbes) (v. 1, 2, 3) / Bill Watterson

 Marcel the Shell With Shoes On: Things About Me / Jenny Slate – Grace teampicked this back in October.



Teenage Homos

 Likewise: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag / Ariel Schrag

Keeping You a Secret / Julie Ann Peters (read about it here)

Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws / Kate Bornstein (read about it here)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower / Stephen Chbosky (listen to this with it)



Doodling Artsy Dreamers

What It Is / Lynda Barry

Drawn In: A Peek into the Inspiring Sketchbooks of 44 Fine Artists, Illustrators, Graphic Designers, and Cartoonists / Julia Rothman

The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game / Julia Rothman (Author), Jenny Volvovski (Author), Matt Lamothe (Author), Dave Eggers (Foreword)  – Each chapter of this book, in which “one hundred indie artists play an ingenious version of the Exquisite Corpse drawing game,” is an accordion pull-out wherein each artist creates a page of artwork having only seen the page of the artist immediately before them. Sometimes the story continues, sometimes it’s built upon differently.  Includes an illustrated forward by Dave Eggers.



Brand New Gays

Annie on My Mind / Nancy Garden

Rubyfruit Jungle / Rita Mae Brown

Tipping the Velvet: A Novel / Sarah Waters

(All three of these, with descriptions, are listed in Top Ten – Lesbian Literature – The Classics)


Straight Girls You Want to Fingerbang

 The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus: How to Go Down on a Woman and Give Her Exquisite Pleasure / Violet Blue with Margaret Cho

The Straight Girl’s Guide to Sleeping with Chicks / Jen Sincero

Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire / Lisa Diamond


Creative Media Aspirants

This is NPR /NPR – Alex got this for me last year because before she met me she’d never heard of NPR and I am obsessed with it.

Jim Henson: The Work / Christopher Finch

How Sassy Changed My Life / Kara Jesella and Marisa Meltzer – Reading this book got me excited for the future and making this website.

I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Revolution / Craig Marks


Girls Who Prefer Fantasy Worlds

Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey / Bob McCabe – Everyone knows that lesbians love Harry Potter.

Art of the Hobbit / Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull

The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition/ Norton Juster – The special edition includes brief essays about the book from “esteemed authors, educators, and artists,” photos of the author and illustrator, a 35th anniversary essay from Maurice Sendak and “gorgeous packaging that features the classic original art stamped and debossed on the case with a transparent acetate jacket.”



Animal Lovers

Menagerie / Sharon Montrose

ZooBorns / Andrew Bleiman & Chris Eastland

Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life / Julia Rothman – according to Brain Pickings, this book is “a charming illustrated guide to the intricate microcosm that underpins your dinner plate” which will “instill in you newfound awe and fascination with rural life.” Not for vegetarians.


Brand New Lesbian Moms

Confessions of the Other Mother: Non-Biological Lesbian Moms Tell All / edited by Harlyn Aizley – This book features a collection of funny personal stories by nonbiological lesbian moms including writers like stand-up comedian Judy Gold and psychologist and author Suzanne M. Johnson.

Mommy, Mama, and Me / Lesléa Newman (Author), Carol Thompson (Illustrator)

Design*Sponge at Home / Grace Bonney




Inferno (A Poet’s Novel) / Eileen Myles (read about it here – Book Club #1)

The Paris Review Interviews, Vols. 1-4 / The Paris Review

Poets & Writers Magazine subscription

Wreck This Box: Keri Smith Boxed Set / Keri Smith (read about it here)

344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment (Voices That Matter) / Stefan G. Bucher – This pocket-sized book features 344 questions illustrated in “Stefan Bucher’s unique, whimsical, hand-lettered style.” Bucher wants to get you thinking and having brilliant ideas, which is perfect for writers because writers need to think and have brilliant ideas.



Literary Types

1Q84 / Haruki Murakami

Blue Nights / Joan Didion

The Marriage Plot / Jeffery Eugenides



The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change / Annie Leonard

An Atlas of Radical Cartography / multiple contributors including Trevor Paglen, John Merson, Ashley Hunt, Jenny Price and Heather Rogers

WORK: capitalism. economics. resistance / the CrimeThinc Ex-Workers Collective – The CrimeThinc Ex-Workers Collective is a “decentralized anarchist collective composed of many cells which act independently in pursuit of a freer and more joyous world.” In this book they tackle problematic capitalist paradigms that have resulted in a country with heaps of technology and citizens working harder than ever. The idea is to get beyond 21st century capitalism. That sounds like a good idea.


Queer Girls Who Like To Write About Themselves on the Internet

The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir / Staceyann Chinn

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? / Jeanette Winterson

Mean Little Deaf Queer: A Memoir /  Terry Galloway – (Lambda Literary Awards Finalist 2010)



My Point… and I Do Have One / Ellen DeGeneres – I was gonna tell you to buy her new book but Jesus Christ if I don’t love My Point…and I Do Have One. This came out before she came out and I la-la-la-LOVED her sitcom and somehow managed to convince an adult to buy it for me.

Bossypants / Tina Fey – Jess says, “She has finally published a David Sedaris-esque memoir called Bossypants in which she shares stories of working the desk at a Chicago YMCA, her tale of lost virginity at 24, all the way to her crazy week of juggling of Sarah Palin rehearsals, trying to get Oprah to appear on 30 Rock, and planning her daughter’s Peter Pan-themed birthday.”

Yeah, I Said It / Wanda Sykes

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) / Mindy Kaling


Your Lover, The Lit Nerd

Violet to Vita : The Letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, 1910-1921, edited by Mitchell Leaska and John Phillips

Written on the Body / Jeanette Winterson – This sexy lesbian classic is what I imagine a teenaged lesbian’s personal blog would sound like if they were a really fucking fantastic writer like Jeanette Winterson.

The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977 / Adrienne Rich


Straight Best Friends

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) / Mindy Kaling

Self-Help / Lorrie Moore

Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found / Sophie Blackall – Rachel was really excited about this book in September, lamenting that these ephemeral missed connections had been sadly neglected until Sophie Blackall came along to “put at least some of them into a book, with BEAUTIFUL illustrations.”

And the Heart Says Whatever / Emily Gould



Word Warriors / 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution edited by Alix Olson, foreword by Eve Ensler — with Michelle Tea, Eileen Myles, Staceyann Chin and Others

Head Off & Split: Poems / Nikky Finney (African-American lesbian poet, winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry)

Not Me / Eileen Myles



Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food / Jeff Potter

The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World’s Most Consequential Trivia / David McCandless

She’s Such a Geek: Women Write About Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff / edited by Annalee Newitz

The Lego Ideas Book / Daniel Lipowitz


Your Lesbo Friends

The Girl Must Die: A Monster Girl Memoir  / Erika Lopez

The Beautiful: Collected Poems / Michelle TeaThemes include being a girl, being a queer girl, sex work, growing up, being hurt, or scared or tough or totally fucked or totally perfect for a minute; life.

The Creamsickle / Rhiannon Argo

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self / Danielle Evans – A much-acclaimed book of short stories, most of which are about teens with “disorder.”

Zipper Mouth / Laurie Weeks

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For / Alison Bechdel

Gay Genius Anthology / Edited by Annie Murphy (I Still Live) (Gay Genius is an anthology of comics and graphic storytelling by queer artists.)

Huntress / Malinda Lo – Read about this young adult fantasy novel here or read an excerpt here.

The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxed Set / Suzanne Collins – Inspired by the lively conversation on The Hunger Games trailer post, I decided to check this series out and OH MY FUCKING GOD. I cannot put it down.



Your Lesbros / Lesbian Bros

The Oxford Companion to Beer / Garret Oliver

Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside the World of ESPN / James Andrew Miller & Tom Shales

Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor /  Robert Kirkman &  Jay Bonansinga

The Daily Show with John Stewart Presents Earth / Jon Stewart



Crafty Types

The Big-Ass Book of Crafts 2 / Mark Montano

The Bust DIY Guide to Life /  Debbie Stoller & Laurie Henzel

Craft Activism: People, Ideas and Projects From the New Community of Handmade and How You Can Join In / Joan Tapper, Gale Zucker & Faythe Levine



Autostraddle Addicts

The Best American Non-Required Reading 2011 / Dave Eggers

Bitchfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine / Lisa Jervis

It Chooses You / Miranda July

The Bigger, The Better, The Tighter the Sweater: 21 Women on Beauty, Body Image and Other Hazards of Being Female / edited by Samantha Schoech and Lisa Taggart (includes an essay by Riese!)

Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism / edited by Daisy Hernandez & Ed.S. Bushra Rehman

Bad Behavior / Mary Gaitskill

Gender Outlaws / edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers / Danny Gregory

Emily Books / various authors / subscription

Autostraddle Calendar / Robin Roemer & Alex Vega

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3228 articles for us.


  1. For all the nerds/geeks out there I recommend the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R. Martin!!! Just make sure that you read em before season 2 of Game of Thrones airs on HBO so you know what’s going on!!!

  2. Great. Now I want ALL of these things. This is an uh-may-zing list. And seriously, buying someone Lorrie Moore’s “Self-Help” seems like a fail-safe way to get into their pants. She’s just too awesome. Lorrie Moore is the gift that keeps on giving.

  3. I just want them all for me. I need cooler friends who don’t have terrible taste and would actually like these awesome books so I can share these with them.

  4. hello if someone would like to buy me pretty much all these books i would not complain. isn’t it tragic i’ve never even read “my point and i do have one?”

  5. I really want to read Mindy Kaling’s book. Rachel said she and I would be friends if we ever met and I choose to hold that as truth.

    • If you are hoping it will be as great as Bossypants, like I was, prepare to be slightly disappointed. It’s a pale imitation of Tina Fey’s genius.

      • I didn’t go into it thinking like that, and I’m really enjoying it. Like, if Tina is the David Sedaris, then Mindy is the Sloane Crosley (another humorous essayist). Not the same at all, but still entertaining. Plus I find myself relating to Mindy a bit more, surprisingly, and I like her nice bite-size essays. I will say that Tina lets her ideas develop more fully, but it’s more a matter of style and not talent.

  6. I kept expecting this list to end, but my eyeballs were treated to more and more and more delicious books! I spend half my life in libraries and bookstores so believe me when I say this is an awesome list. :D

  7. This is a fucking awesome list! I’ve read a lot of these, and most of the ones I haven’t I’ve put on my Paperback Swap wishlist. Actually, ‘Tipping the Velvet’ is in the mail to me right now as I type this!

    I have a few suggestions to add:

    For Girls Who Prefer Fantasy Worlds –
    ‘The Orphan’s Tales’ duology by Catherynne Valente. These two books actually tell one complete story which is crafted from many different small stories which weave together into an exquisite tapestry.
    ‘Brown Girl in the Ring’ by Nalo Hopkinson (actually anything by Nalo Hopkinson). She tells amazing sci-fi/fantasy stories rooted in Caribbean culture. ‘Brown Girl in the Ring’ is set in a dystopian 21st century Toronto and follows a woman as she discovers the reality of Afro-Caribbean magic and fights for social justice in her community.

    Literary Types –
    ‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s a really elegant, quiet, and devastating book.

    Occupiers –
    (Warning: controversial suggestion ahead!)
    ‘Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America’ by Ward Churchill. I actually think the preface to the 2007 edition by Derrick Jensen makes the case better than Churchill does. However one feels about the subject, I think there are important ideas here that need to be discussed.

    Nerds –
    ‘Chicks Dig Timelords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It’ edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea. These essays contain a huge range of topics covering different aspects of fandom or the show itself that is especially meaningful to each author. My absolute favorite essay in the whole thing is Seanan McGuire’s. She tells the story of how a miscommunication on her mother’s part led her to believe FOR YEARS that Doctor Who was a documentary series. It’s absolutely hilarious!

    Also, Marcell the Shell With Shoes On is creepy as fuck. There. I said it.

  8. I have to add “How to be an explorer of the world” for any hipster/artsy/inner child types. Its a good gift and lots of fun for said hipster artsy girls and bois and boys.

  9. Mercedes lackey books! They are fantasy (not sci fi, but a sister genre), and they definitely have the horse thing covered (“Companions” are intelligent “horses” who communicate telepathically with each other and their bonded rider). Also if you go with the “Arrows of the Queen” trilogy (the author’s recommended starting point), the queerness is subtle. So probs the parents won’t even notice because it’s more of an innocent coming of age story about a strong, young girl (straight). There are a few characters in the book that just happen to be gay and the books do a great job of making it just that. They are “normal” people just like everybody else, they just happen to be bonded with somebody of the same gender.

    If she likes these, then she can move on to the “Last Herald Mage” series where the protagonist is a gay male. Autostraddle talked about this series in a previous article: http://www.autostraddle.com/top-ten-fantasy-novels-that-happen-to-have-gay-people-in-them-authors-110616/

    Also there are no graphic sex scenes, the author only hints at relations, so it’s totally age appropriate.

    • It’s been about a decade since I’ve read those books, but I seem to remember things getting a bit bleak in the latter parts of that original trilogy. There’s some character death. But it wasn’t, like, gore or anything.

  10. Lynda Barry is my hero. Every book by her is amazing. I recommend her books for everybody. Her stories speak to the basic human experience everyone has. What It Is, is a somewhat how to write creatively book, but most of her books are comics.

  11. That girl could have been me a decade ago! I credit Tamora Pierce’s books with why I was able to even SURVIVE coming out to myself. She’s got a good number of queer characters (more in the Circle of Magic books than the Tortall books, but there’s some in both!) and also provided a great feminist perspective. But if this kid’s mom is the anti-Harry Potter type of conservative Christian, this might work out, because the books have magic and a polytheistic religion and so on. IDK, get book covers or hide them in the Bible or something? (Oh yeah, and there are horses in them! Since you mentioned horses.)

    OH HEY ALSO Ursula K. LeGuin! The Left Hand of Darkness is AMAZING and changed my perceptions of gender and sexuality and lalala I love it so much. Although possibly recommending it to a preteen might be controversial? Since it talks pretty explicitly about sex (albeit, alien sex that doesn’t much like human-people sex, if I recall correctly…)? I think preteens can handle it, but the fundy mom might object. But LeGuin has loads of books (pretty solidly within sci-fi/fantasy genre, depending ont he book) that fit what you’re looking for pretty well.

    • I spent 70% of my preteen years expecting to become Daine one day. Those books gave me unrealistic expectations for my life.

      • Realizing I would never be able to talk to animals like Daine could was worse than when I turned 12 and still didn’t have my Hogwarts letter.

  12. Ooh, The Perks of Being A Wallflower is such a great book, even for not-teens. I’m reading it right now and it is heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measures.

  13. I love this list, there’s lots of awesome stuff, but no science fiction section? There’s so much awesome SF, including awesome gay SF. We have a science fiction group here on AS even! :(

  14. This post was amazing!! It absolutely made my day :) I kept thinking it would end, and it just kept getting better and better and even the comments all have great suggestions!
    Seeing as I work in a bookstore that looks like it’s the offspring of a massive bookstore orgy, I know I’m going to spend hours searching for every one of these titles!

  15. Thanks, Riese. I’ve been inspired to find the nearest English-language bookstore in this city and get the new eugenides!

  16. Not to be that girl but please, if you have an independent bookstore available to you support them. Do not support B&N or amazon, they are doing their level best to put the small bookstores out of business (including amazon now offering customers 5 bucks to get intel on competitors and then walk out without buying anything)

    Support your independent stores!

    • yea, but if you follow the links on this page to amazon you’ll be supporting this site as a portion of your purchase goes to their account. so it’s not ALLL going to the man.

  17. Oh my GOD totally getting The Art of the Hobbit for my sister. She will shit herself and it will be glorious.

  18. For every feminist/person:

    Half the Sky by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristoff (NY Times columnist). It is the best and most important book I have read in the past 5 years…make sure you pass it on to plenty of male friends too. Happy reading!

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