Ladies, there’s no denying of the fact that winter has come upon us. Being forced to spend that bit more (or, let’s face it, all our) time inside has the lovely side-effect that we can finally catch up on the novels we didn’t manage to get through this year despite the best of intentions. There were mountains to climb, oceans to swim and kisses to blow after all. Now, here’s a bunch of last-minute titles to give to your friends and family in case they’re pressed more some Christmas pressies. Happy reading!

Soppy: A Love Letter (Philippa Rice)

Love is a weird one. We’ve grown up with the magnificent love stories of Romeo and Juliet, Angelina and Brad and Lorelai and Luke and somehow thought that it’s really like that, the drama, the dreamy breakfast in bed, the singing love songs in karaoke bars for him – and then find out that perhaps, that’s not the whole story. Soppy, a collection of illustrations describing the daily life of a couple, is an ode to the quiet moments in a relationship: the watching movies in bed together, the brushing teeth next to each other, the having lazy sushi together after work. Philippa Rice’s illustrations are delicate and bold at the same time, and they will make you cherish the little things in ❤.

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Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood (Alida Nugent)

After graduation, Alida really has no idea what she’s doing. Sound familiar? To me, Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse feels a little like looking at my own life from an outsider’s perspective and then having a jolly good laugh because all the twists and turns really are quite funny. Take paying off the student loan (or trying to), take moving back in with your parents, taking online dating (ha ha), all while trying to make sense of the world around and about what you really want from life (more cookies). Thanks for making me feel better about myself, Miss Nugent.

Love Letters to the Dead (Ava Dellaira)

What dead person would you write a letter to if you could? Laurel opts for Kurt Cobain, because her dead sister used to adore him. In between writing to other people like Heath Ledger or Amy Winehouse, she works through her own life, through the perhaps normal ups and downs of high school, her complicated family and through the abuse she suffered when her sister May didn’t look after her. By writing, she can accept her very own history and May’s real character, and comes to terms with it all, or at least with most of it, step by step.

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Every day (David Leviathan)

David Leviathan’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (the book, not the movie!) has been a constant companion when I was a teenager, and until today his Lover’s Dictionary has a very prominent spot in my bookshelf. (Here’s its beautiful Twitter account) The story surrounding A is similarly playful: Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl. A tends to wake up in a different body (Who doesn’t know that feeling?), and he’s fine with it most of the time – until he meets Rhiannon, that is. His strategy, stay off the limelight as much as you can and never ever get too attached, no longer works one bit. So, can Rhiannon really love someone who changes every single day? Can we? Can you?

Freedom from the Known (Jiddu Krishnamurti)

I had an interview recently with a wildly inspiring 76-year-old woman, who, besides giving me live and love advice in buckets (so much for separating personal and professional lives, aha), also recommended this book. I am pretty sure that I would never have gotten my hands on it in any other circumstance, but Jiddu Krishnamurti basically advocates stripping free from any habits or mindsets you’ve taken on just because they were always there. He wants you to questions your… absolutely everything and then find out who you are and what you want, minus the expectations. A massively challenging read that’ll push you to create your own path.

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Big Magic Creative Living Beyond Fear (Elizabeth Gilbert)

How do you live a creative life and preserve some of the magic from the good days? If you’re anything like me, there are quite a few bad days in between that I’d very much like to get rid of. Big Magic celebrates inspiration, unconventional ways of “getting it” if there is such thing, kick obstacles in their butt, and make use of the “strange jewels” that are inside of us. This isn’t a self-help book (Phew), but it definitely will have a therapeutic effect. And yes, it’s by the author of Eat, Pray, Love. Two other books on similar topics I’m reading at the moment are Creative Inc, and Making Ideas Happen.

A Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Didion)

Oh, Joan Didion. She is one of my favourite writers for her radical honesty. In A Year of Magical Thinking, she works and writes through the death of her husband John Gregory Dunne, who has been with her for 40 years, and their daughter’s pneumonia. The grief puts her in a state of “magical thinking” where she reflects on the different stages of mourning loss. “Marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John’s eyes. I did not age.” This is a deeply personal account of what it means to not only lose love, but to lose a big part of yourself as well.

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We are all completely beside ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler)

I’ll admit it: At first, this book only made onto my list (or Amazon wishlist, rather) simply for its title, but bear with me, the plot isn’t too shabby either: The rather dysfunctional Cook family consists of a psychologist father, her mother a non-practicing scientist and a little fragile, and three children, one of whom is Fern, a chimpanzee. Yeah, that’s right. Fern, on the other hand, believes she’s human and her sister Rosemary always unconsciously mirrors her. When they are separated, the two and their brother Lowell end up deeply traumatized. Oh, and did I mention their father specializes in animal behavior? You’re welcome!

Submission (Michel Houellebecq)

Michel Houellebecq (“Atomised“) isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. In Submission, France’s socialist parties support the Muslim Brotherhood in order to prevent the far-right party Front National from coming to power. Now, with the Front National just having won in the regional elections, the story is more timely than ever: The country’s new president sets a few changes in place, so that now only Muslims can become teachers. Caught in the middle of that is Francois, a university scholar. “There’s just one thing,” said the head of department. “You will have to convert to Islam. But it’s no real hassle and you can have as many wives as you like.” This is an incredibly sobering and pessimistic piece, that also happens to have come out in France on January 7, the day of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo.

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Modern Romance (Aziz Ansari & Eric Klinenberg)

Modern Romance is an exploration of love as we live it today. Aziz Ansari wrote together with Eric Klinenberg, who is a sociologist at New York University. While it’s an absolutely hilarious read, it’s based on extensive research, think sifting through online dating profiles, starting focus groups – and face the ever-present uncertainty and vulnerability that are always involved. Also, isn’t it funny how we can love and marry virtually anyone without having to look at economic advancements, nationality or “class”? But it’s still difficult, hey. Read. And happy Christmas. ❤

Now tell me, what books made it onto your shelfies (!) this winter? 

All photos taken by Caroline Schmitt