By: Em Perper

This is it, folks: the final countdown. Christmas is imminent. It’s time to wrap those books. Need some last-minute inspiration? Look no further.


For the Spiritual Seeker:

And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy: Stories from the Byways of American Women and Religion by Adrian Shirk (Counterpoint/IPS, $26)
A brilliant blend of feminist religious history and memoir, contemplating the contributions of figures like Marie Laveau, Mary Eddy, Flannery O’Connor, Sojourner Truth, and many more. Named one of NPR’s best books of 2017.

The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations by Oprah Winfrey (Flatiron Books, $27.99)
Only Oprah could combine thinkers, writers, and innovators like Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hahn, Cheryl Strayed, Ariana Huffington, Shonda Rhimes, and Elizabeth Gilbert into one powerhouse of a book.

Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman (Quirk Books/PRH, $15.99)
IRL BFFs offer practical suggestions for self-care and self-improvement, with a touch of magic.

Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment by Robert Wright (Simon & Schuster, $27)
Pulitzer Prize finalist (and religious skeptic) blends psychology, philosophy, and religion in this engaging, entertaining analysis of the benefits of Buddhism.


For the Aspiring Writer:

Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living by Manjula Martin (Simon & Schuster, $16)
Roxane Gay, Jonathan Franzen, Nick Hornby, Cheryl Strayed and other prominent authors speak candidly in these interviews and essays about the gritty realities of writing for pay.

Ready, Set, Novel! by Chris Baty, Lindsey Grant, and Tavia Stewart (Chronicle Books/Hachette, $16.95)
This practical, accessible workbook includes dozens of exercises to develop plot, setting, and character, created by the minds behind National Novel Writing Month.

The Joy of Mindful Writing by Joy Kenward (Leaping Hare, $12.99)
Tips and tricks to get you past writer’s block and moving towards consistent creative flow, rooted in mindfulness practices.

My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs: The Nobel Lecture by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf/PRH, $16.95)
Ishiguro, known for his novels The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. This beautiful little blue book collects his Nobel lecture, described as “an enduring work on writing and becoming a writer.”


For the Adrenaline Junkie:

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter (Crown Archetype/PRH, $26)
From the star of Netflix’s Jessica Jones comes the story of a successful lawyer who returns to her hometown to solve a decades-long disappearance and take on a massive corporation.

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose (Viking/PRH, $26)
When runaway teen Lee takes refuge in a squatter’s society called the Crystal Castle, she starts to suspect something sinister is taking place behind the house’s façade.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (Orbit/Hachette, $26)
Six words: unspeakable horror in the Mariana Trench. Here’s a few more words: Grant blends sci-fi/fantasy, thriller, and horror in the saga of a seafaring crew looking for answers…and vengeance.

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent (Gallery/Scout Press/Simon & Schuster, $26)
After Oliver Ryan commits an atrocious act of violence against his devoted wife, his community tries to understand how such evil could lurk in their midst.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (Atlantic Monthly Press/IPS, $26)
Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, calls this haunting debut about Lizzie Borden and her disturbed family the “next great thriller.”