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‘Tis the Season to be Bookish

Stop agonizing over that perfect present for your bestie or your sister (who is also your bestie) or your other bestie (who is actually no relation). We’ve picked out a few of this year’s most stylish and interesting books that we think will be much appreciated wrapped up and tied with a bow. (And, if you happen to pick up one or two for yourself, we won’t tell Santa.)

Alexi Lubomirski: Diverse Beauty ($50)

By Lupita Nyong’o and Alexi Lubomirski

A fashion photographer for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and GQ, Lubomirski has created a gorgeous reminder that beauty comes in every size, shape, and color--and age. Inspired by his work with the radiant Lupita Nyong’o, Lubomirski wants all women to see themselves represented in this mix.

Sweetbitter ($16.54)

By Stephanie Danler

For your friend who has a serious crush on Anthony Bourdain and always knows the latest can’t-get-in eateries: This novel is an insider view of the hot, steamy doings behind the kitchen doors of a fancy NYC restaurant. It has it all--crush-able bartenders, a love triangle, shaved truffles, and lots of fine wine. The author knows whereof she writes, having spent years at some of Manhattan’s toniest eating places.

Victoria: The Queen ($21.79)

By Julia Baird

Forget the dumpy, repressed dowager in widow’s weeds that we think of when we think of being Victorian. This portrait introduces a teenager who became queen, ruled an empire, made no secret of loving sex, and grieved deeply for her beloved prince. Her story will delight that friend who is binge-watching The Crown and can’t wait until Victoria reigns over Sunday nights in 2017, thanks to PBS Masterpiece Theater.

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners ($18.54)

By Therese Oneill

Speaking of Victoria, did you ever wonder what went on behind all those giant-yet-modest hoop skirts? The author wittily (and with utmost snark) takes us back to an era when all the underwear was crotchless and a lady would get shamed for daring to re-tie her bonnet strings in public.

Corsets and Codpieces: A Social History of Outrageous Fashion ($16.99)

By Karen Bowman

Give this to your favorite fashion plate so she (or he) can learn about the crazy things humans have worn over the years--from whoopee-cushion bustles to fire-trap crinolines. Thank your lucky stars for today’s comfy underpinnings: in Victorian times, “tight-lace liver,” an ailment caused by corsets, was a recognized cause of early death.

The Coveteur: Private Spaces, Personal Style ($22.48)

By Stephanie Mark and Jake Rosenberg

Get inside the homes of famously stylish types like Karlie Kloss, Tavi Gevinson, and Miranda Kerr in this tome from the wildly popular fashion blog. Trigger warning: Those subject to serious closet envy should avoid this book.

God’s Love We Deliver Cookbook: Nourishing Stories and Recipes from Notable Friends ($50)

By Christopher Idone and Jon Gilman

Cook well and do good with this book from the NYC nonprofit that provides meals for those too sick to cook for themselves. Recipes include Jennifer Hudson’s feta-stuffed chicken burgers (yum!), a pineapple upside down cake from Michael Kors, and roast turkey the Ina Garten way (she was a creative force on the project). All proceeds go to fund the 31-year-old group, which cooks 6,200 meals each weekday.

Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair ($22.94)

By Emma Tarlo

In writing this book, the anthropology professor author asked herself if she’d become a hair fetishist. The answer is yes, and you will be, too, once you read this fascinating exploration of the lucrative international hair trade. Follow her to a Mississippi Hair Expo and learn all about extensions and weaves or to an Indian temple, where Hindu women shave their heads as a religious offering (the hair is then sold for wigs). While reading this, every day will be a good hair day.

All the Missing Girls ($15.49)

By Megan Miranda

That person who has repeatedly read Gone Girl and Girl on the Train (and seen both movies--multiple times) will love this girls-gone-missing thriller. Told in flashback mode, it’s the story of Nicolette who comes home to look after her ailing father. Oh, but guess what? She’s just in time for the mystery of her missing high school bestie to blow up when another young woman disappears.