Books for Christmas: Sisters

• Dec 10, 2018 •

Wondering what to get your sister for Christmas this year? Look no further.

Six remarkable women and the food that tells their stories, the true power of women and the science that proves it, and a mesmerising novel of the most enduring cultural icon of the 20th century.

They are just a few of our top choices, but see below for more.

What She Ate by Laura Shapiro

Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt dished up Eggs Mexican (a concoction of rice, fried eggs, and bananas) in the White House?

Or that Helen Gurley Brown’s commitment to ‘having it all’ meant dining on supersized portions of diet gelatine?

In the irresistible What She Ate, Laura Shapiro examines the plates, recipe books and shopping trolleys of six extraordinary women, from Dorothy Wordsworth to Eva Braun.

Delving into diaries, newspaper articles, cook books and more, Shapiro casts a different light on the usual narratives of women’s lives. Finding meaning in every morsel, and looking through the lens of their attitudes towards food, she masterfully reveals the love and rage, desire and denial, need and pleasure, behind six remarkable appetites.

Inferior by Angela Saini 

Taking us on an eye-opening journey through science, Inferior challenges our preconceptions about men and women, investigating the ferocious gender wars that burn in biology, psychology and anthropology. Angela Saini revisits the landmark experiments that have informed our understanding, lays bare the problem of bias in research, and speaks to the scientists finally exploring the truth about the female sex.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In this personal, eloquently argued essay – adapted from her much-admired Tedx talk of the same name – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now – an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

A mesmerising novel of the most enduring cultural icon of the 20th century, Blonde is a deeply moving portrait of the woman who became Marilyn Monroe.

Who was Norma Jeane Baker?

In Blonde we are given an intimate, unsparing vision of the woman who became Marilyn Monroe like no other: the child who visits the cinema with her mother; the orphan whose mother is declared mad; the woman who changes her name to become an actress; the fated celebrity, lover, comedienne, muse and icon.

Joyce Carol Oates tells an epic American story of how a fragile, gifted young woman makes and remakes her identity, surviving against crushing odds, perpetually in conflict and intensely driven. Here is the very essence of the individual hungry and needy for love: from an elusive mother; from a mysterious, distant father and from a succession of lovers and husbands. Joyce Carol Oates sympathetically explores the inner life of the woman destined to become Hollywood’s most compelling legend. Blonde is a brilliant and deeply moving portrait of a culture hypnotised by its own myths and the shattering reality of the personal effects it had on the woman who became Marilyn Monroe.

Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiney

Maya’s dog is dying, and she is planning to leave her boyfriend. On the whole she feels worse about the dog.

Nina thought it might be difficult to summon the moral fortitude to have an extramarital affair with a Presbyterian minister living above the garbage, but she discovers that almost anything is possible.

A teenager finds an affair with her history teacher too sealed off from the rest of her life, like the last slice of cake under a glass dome.

These women are best friends, roommates and mistresses. They tipple and titillate, fantasize and fumble, worry and wander. They make poor choices in men and children’s magicians and wise choices in what to wear to meet their lovers’ wives. None of them are single (or carefree or mellow) but all are irresistible and all too familiar.

Darling by Rachel Edwards

A teenage girl clashes with her new stepmother in this debut thriller with an unforgettable twist.

‘Dark, deep, thought-provoking. What a debut! I recommend you go and read it!’ Adele Parks

‘Grips the reader with its twisty exploration of the complex relationship between step mother and step daughter’ Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat

‘Oh so good’ Elle

‘Told by two unforgettable female narrators, it’s urgent, original and genuinely unputdownable’ Clare Fisher, author of All the Good Things

‘Similar in spirit to We Need to Talk About Kevin’ Sunday Times 

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