A recent Saturday Night Live skit with guest host Emma Stone features a 90s-style music video making fun of the “the gift of having a gift to give away.” In this case, it’s an impersonal, peach-colored candle that you can pull out of your purse and re-gift on a whim.

By contrast, real gifts require forethought, careful attention, and personal knowledge of the recipient. A good book is particularly special. In anticipation of Christmas, we asked CT Women writers to report on the one book they’d recommend as a gift. From memoirs to “anti-devotionals,” old Russian classics to new releases, here are their favorites.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

By Rachel Ignotofsky

I love finding books that inspire younger women with real-life role models, and this one was the perfect choice for the 10-year-old super girl on my Christmas list. Ignotofsky profiles 50 women of science—from an entomologist to a renowned mathematician— that hail from diverse countries. Their profiles are paired with whimsical illustrations. The book is as brainy as it is charming and perfect for mothers and daughters, or maybe aunts and nieces (in my case), to read together. Made me proud to be a girl! —Jamie Janosz

SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully

By Jane McGonigal

I can't say enough good things about this research-based self-help book. McGonigal, a game designer and PhD, breaks down the science behind video games and explains how the concepts of gamification apply to real life. This book helped me rethink my approach to a lot of difficult situations this year and also provided a framework from which to rethink my approach to self-care and post-traumatic growth. This will ...

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