The 18 Best Books to Gift, According to Best-Selling Female Authors

Gifting a book is easier said than done. The wrong pick can come across as though you were short on time—and probably ideas. You want your loved one to not only enjoy your recommendation but also feel like the book you chose was carefully selected just for them. That’s why we turned to some of our favorite of-the-moment female authors—like Ottessa Moshfegh, Casey McQuiston, and Lisa Taddeo—for their take on the best books to gift this year.

So whether you grew up acing all your Lit classes, or were too busy reading extra-curricular novels to even care, you’ll find these recommendations highly giftable. Ahead, find 18 of the best books to gift (or get for yourself).

All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What Is Retinol and How to Use It: Best Retinol Products

She also says to stick with gentle cleansers (she likes CeraVe), and to always follow your retinol with a moisturizer, especially those with hyaluronic acid and ceramides. If your skin is really irritated, you can try buffering, where you apply moisturizer before retinol to reduce side effects. Most derms also recommend easing into retinol, starting with application once a week, and working up to every other or every night, depending on how tolerant your skin is.

No matter what, “a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ should be worn religiously every day of the year, not only to prevent skin cancers, wrinkles, and sun spots, but because retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun,” says Marchbein.

When should you start using retinol?

Just because retinol is an effective ingredient for some, don’t feel like you absolutely need to use it. “Retinol is not for everyone, and it should not be considered something that is a must—some people cannot tolerate it, and some don’t want to commit to a complex skin regimen,” says Kant. “But for those who are motivated, I would say starting a retinol product in your mid- to late-20s is reasonable, as long as a daily moisturizer with sunscreen has been part of the plan since your teen years. Prevention comes first!” If you’re still new to daily skin care and sun protection, start by getting those basics in place for a few months before diving in to a more complex regimen.

How long does it take to see a difference in your skin?

Like any new skin care product, it takes a little time to see major results from retinol. Marchebin says around four to six weeks is average, and for acne, it can take up to 12 for full improvement. “When used for antiaging, in the short term, retinoids help open pores and give your skin a healthy glow by removing dead skin cells off the surface,” she says. “Over the long-term—six months and beyond—they help grow new collagen and elastin, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and lighten brown pigmentation.”

What are the best retinols to use?

Since getting the intel on retinol, I’ve begun using the stuff three times a week, and it’s now as essential to my nighttime routine as a tube of toothpaste (I stick with Shani Darden Retinol Reform, which is a godsend). After layering it on consistently for the past six months, the fine lines around my eyes have diminished, and the pesky acne spots around my cheeks and forehead have almost disappeared. Shop some of the other top-recommended retinols from experts below.

If you have sensitive skin…

CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Cream Serum

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Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil

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Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Facial Serum

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Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Rapid Renewal Retinol Treatment

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If you want to fight acne…

Kate Somerville EradiKate Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment

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Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1%

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Ole Henriksen Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum

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Herbivore Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum

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Lifetime’s Mistletoe & Menorahs Is the Jewish Holiday Movie You’ve Been Waiting For

Julianna: And what I love about Hanukkah is that Guy and I can come together for a quiet moment at the end of every single day of Hanukkah to light one candle on the menorah. It’s just nice to be able to put a pause and spend time together and celebrate this tradition that Guy has had since he was little.

Guy: There’s another bit that we put into the movie is me teaching Julianna how to do the prayers while lighting the candles on the menorah.

Julianna: In the film, Kelley [Jakle, who plays the main character, Christy] has a beautiful voice. When we were developing the script, it wasn’t initially intended to have the actor singing in that moment. It’s when we cast Kelley and we knew she’s so talented as a singer that we revised it to have her sing. It was the same with Jake. He’s a singer, too. So when “Oh Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah” comes on… we changed all of that to be included because of the actors who were cast. They’re talented in so many arenas.

Important question: fruitcake plays a big part in this movie. Was it as good as it was made out to be?

Julianna: We tried to make sure that the fruitcake wasn’t that bad because it’s definitely not a great dessert. I think part of Guys writing was to try to bring fruitcake back.

Courtesy of Marvista Entertainment.

Guy: I love fruitcake. I really do. And that is something I discovered from Christmas is how much I love fruitcake.

Julianna: Oh, I’m not a fan. But the latkes and jelly donuts were fantastic. We tried to make sure that the actors like them so that they wouldn’t have a look of of anything on their face but joy.

And what’s next? Would you like to do another film for the holidays next year?

Guy: I would like to bring a Passover movie [into the fold]. There’s holiday movies all year around…spring movies and summer movies. But as far as Hanukkah, there’s still a lot of stories out there that can be explored. Whether it’s romance stories that involve someone being Jewish or two people being Jewish or just somebody going to a Hanukkah party, [I’m interested]. When pitching season comes around, I certainly hope to have a bunch of ideas.

Mistletoe & Menorahs airs Saturday, December 7 at 6 P.M. ET on Lifetime. Jessica Radloff is the Glamour West Coast editor. Follow her on Twitter @JRadloff.

41 Thoughtful Gifts for Your Best Friend

Of all the to-dos on your holiday list, finding gifts for your best friend may be the most difficult of them all. Shopping for your best friend is like buying yourself a present—you know exactly what she likes, what she doesn’t like, and what she doesn’t need (but still really wants). So while the stakes are high, odds are if you love it, she will too.

Envious of her ear party? Add a charm to her stack. Love her perfume? Try one of this season’s most covetable fragrances. And then there are gifts that go the extra mile, like personalized forever-jewelry or luxe travel sets that take the stress out of packing. All that, and more gifts for your best friend, ahead.

All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Jennifer Beals Says the 2016 Election Ignited the L Word Reboot

I asked Beals if the press tour she’s on right now differs from that of 10 years ago—as in are she, her co-stars, and Chaiken being well-received by media? Or have they faced challenges? She believes it’s the culture, more broadly, that’s changed. “What’s different is that people are more attuned to these conversations and ready to have these conversations,” she said. “Back then, people didn’t quite even have the vocabulary to have the conversation. You know, when language is changing, when language is trying to keep up with the reality of experience, it’s a tectonic shift in the way we think, and the way we see each other, and the way we see ourselves. So, I think the conversations are different now.”

In Generation Q, Bette Porter is campaigning to be the first out lesbian mayor of Los Angeles—a fitting job for her and a fitting mayor in the cinematic universe of The L Word (and let’s be real, probably IRL too). In the pilot alone, Bette makes a series of inspiring speeches that made me remember just how special and important Ms. Porter was in the aughts, and how important Beals’s voice remains as a bullheaded ally of the LGBTQ+ community. When I asked Jennifer if she misses anything about the original show, she channeled Bette and set me straight.

“I don’t. I try to move forward. I try not to hold on,” she said. “Holding on will just lead you to nostalgia, and we don’t have time for nostalgia. We’re living in a time that requires all of us to be intensely present, because what’s interesting about these conversations about gender and sexual identity is that they also pertain to how we are on the planet, and how we are treating the planet. Both things require us to shift the paradigm, and shift absolute consciousness, and shift entire systems.”

What she said next is truly a mantra I’ll be carrying into 2020: “Holding onto the past? We don’t have time for that. I don’t have time to be nostalgic.”

The L Word: Generation Q premieres this Sunday, December 8 at 10 P.M. ET on Showtime.

Jill Gutowitz is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @jillboard.

Jennifer Beals Says the 2016 Election Ignited the Reboot of ‘The L Word’

I almost called Jennifer Beals “Bette” three times during our interview—but it’s not my fault her character from The L Word, Bette Porter, is so iconic. Plus, I’d be lying if I said Jennifer and Bette didn’t share similarities: They’re articulate, well-spoken, and fiercely opinionated, and both carry huge “step on me” energy. After a 10-year hiatus, the groundbreaking lesbian show returns to Showtime Sunday as The L Word: Generation Q, with Bette Porter—err, Jennifer Beals—at the helm.

“I’ve always loved Bette Porter,” Beals told me. “Even in her worst moments. I love her.” On the original L Word, Beals costarred with Laurel Holloman as the show’s leading lesbian couple, Bette and Tina. A decade later Bette and Tina have long split, but their child—now a vaping, class-cutting, possibly queer teen, Angie (played by newcomer Jordan Hull)—is front and center, alongside a slate of new queer cast-members and two other familiar faces. Katherine Moennig returns as lesbian legend Shane McCutcheon, and Leisha Hailey as the loquacious fan-favorite (or maybe just my favorite) Alice Pieszecki. The trio teamed up with The L Word’s trailblazing creator, Ilene Chaiken, to bring the Showtime drama back to life.

“Kate Moennig, Leisha Hailey, and I initiated the idea of the idea of the return of the show because we were really confident that something would take its place right after the show went off the air, because it was so successful,” Beals said. “But nothing did.” She added, “Certainly, shows like Orange Is the New Black,, around that time, occupied that space. But shows that we think of now, like Pose or Transparent, all came considerably after The L Word went off the air.” Beals pointed out that, when the original show was airing, things were very different for queer people; mainly, same-sex marriage wasn’t yet legal.

Jordyn Woods Responds to Fans Who Think She Shaded Khloé Kardashian Last Night

If you thought the drama between Jordyn Woods, Khloé Kardashian, and Tristan Thompson was over, think again. Almost 10 months after Woods, Kylie Jenner’s former BFF, was caught allegedly kissing Thompson (the father of Kardashian’s daughter, True) the saga continues.

On a recent episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Khloé received some expensive gifts from Thompson, now her ex, and some fans questioned why she was showing kindness and forgiveness to him, but not Woods. The reality star posted a long Instagram Story after the episode. “I don’t hold any negative or hateful feelings towards ANYONE! I mean that,” she wrote. “Life is short! We are all humans trying to figure out this thing called life … Yes, I’m allowed to feel hurt and pain. It would be unnatural for me to pretend as if I don’t. Personally, I don’t want to be carrying around a hateful heart.”

She then further clarified her message. “The reason why I decided to post my previous post is because I’m seeing a lot of back-and-forth with people asking ‘Why don’t I keep that same energy with Jordyn?’ That message is for Jordyn,” she wrote. “It’s for anyone else who has ever hurt me. For some reason people want to assume that I’m talking only about Tristan. This message applies to ALL parties involved in situations that have ever hurt me. I have moved on, found forgiveness and wish you only happiness and joy!”

Then, Jordyn Woods posted a quote that many thought was directed at Khloé Kardashian: “Someone somewhere is still discussing the old you because they don’t have access to the new you.” Woods, however, says that’s not the case. “Not every quote that is posted is a sub or a ‘clap back’ and not everything posted is directed towards one person in general. I deal with a lot of different shit daily. It’s all love. Only positive vibrations 🙏🏽♥️,” she tweeted.

So, that’s that. But what we really want to know is what Kylie thinks about these latest developments.

Romance Audiobook Narrator Andi Arndt Says Sometimes a Moan Is Required

But just because it’s a romance novel, it doesn’t need to be sexy all the time. That’s just not life. Usually contemporary romance is about a relationship in the midst of someone’s life, with characters who work, etc. So you follow the story. If there’s bubbly flirting going on, then that’s one kind of energy. If there’s that really intense intimacy, that’s another. It’s like water-skiing. The book is the boat, and I’m just being towed behind it.

On getting into the groove.

Now that I’ve done 400 books—two thirds of which are romance novels—I try to remember that every love story is unique. So it really depends on the book. I am very aware of my focus. My voice doesn’t get tired—because I’m not talking anymore strenuously than I would on the phone—so I don’t have to strain myself. But I get mentally fatigued and I notice distraction creeping in. I do everything I can to clear my mind and be ready to sit with the story for however many hours—I get paid by the finished hour—then I go for a quick walk at lunchtime. I have to eat something so my stomach’s not making noises into the microphone, then I do a couple of more hours and knock off around five. It’s a nice nine to five job, which is unusual for an actor.

On the romance stigma.

I tell people that I narrate audio books full-time and when the romance part comes up, I like to watch other people’s reactions. I like to take note of their reaction because they’re telling me about their relationship with that topic. I don’t take it as a judgment on the value of my work. Sometimes they’ll kind of get conspiratorially close to me and say, “Oh, I love those books.” Or sometimes they’ll get giggly or whatever. I just find it interesting to see what people’s relationship is to it, because frankly, I would rather talk about two people making each other feel awesome than a horror book where you’re talking about the really creative ways somebody can destroy another person’s body. I couldn’t do horror, but I love doing romance.

On embodying her characters.

I’ll do character work in the sense that I’ll look at the protagonist’s age, their background, what social class they’re in. If they are upper crust-y, they might take their time with things a little bit more. Or I just did a character last month who was an abandoned orphan as a child. So her expectation of the world was that she had to take care of herself and look out for herself. It made her harder when it came to other people. That’s a different character for me. I don’t do character voices, per se, in a cartoonish way. It’s more of how do you differentiate the men from the women, and the women from one another, in subtle ways that allow the listener to follow what’s going on, without my voice being a distraction?

On what keeps her coming back to the genre.

Everybody loves a good “how we met” story. The rush and the excitement of that. So whether you are single, or you’ve been with someone for a few years, or you’ve been married for 50 years, I think people are drawn to romance because of that rush. Those are some of the most wonderful moments of life.

One of the authors I love working with is Kylie Scott, who’s an Australian romance writer. What I love about her work is that the people are so real. They have real concerns and real bodies. She’ll write about women who are maybe not so happy with their body, and part of the excitement of the relationship is being completely accepted as beautiful—just as they are. I love her stories because they’re about two people with flaws meeting one another, right where they are, and loving each other. There’s also laughter in her romances, which I think makes things sexier because it means that the two people are really aware of what’s going on. They’re not only swept away, they’re really present with each other. I just love being a part of the story.

Samantha Leach is the associate culture editor at Glamour. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @_sleach.

Here’s Your First Glimpse of Lizzie McGuire and Ethan Craft on Screen Together

Hilary Duff and her old friends at Lizzie McGuire have been hard at work filming the beloved early aughts show’s reboot for the Disney Plus streaming platform.

But the actor/singer took some time out to meet up with Lizzie McGuire super fan Meghan Trainor to quiz her about some important facts about the show—and surprise her with everybody’s favorite crush, Ethan Craft. Well, actually the actor who played him, Clayton Snyder, but you know what we mean. He even brought out a plate of Ethan’s favorite dish: spaghetti.

Meghan, Meghan, Meghan. I hope your day is proceeding with fineness,” he says in the video by Billboard. “And if it wasn’t, here’s a plate of the best food in the world, spaghetti.” To say Trainor was surprised and thrilled would be a massive understatement. “Oh my God. It’s Hot Ethan,” she says, blushing and clutching her backpack tightly. “You’re so handsome still. You guys aged so well. You look like Hercules!”

Trainor did pretty well for herself on the quiz, as she and Duff reminisced about The Lizzie McGuire Movie. Duff said she rewatched it recently with her 7-year-old son, Luca. “I actually watched it over the weekend with my son, because I hadn’t seen it since the premiere,” she said. “That was a very big portion of my life and I was like, ‘I’m good for a minute.’”

“[Luca] was in and out, but my future husband [Matthew Koma], he loved it the most,” she continued. “I was like, ‘You’re such a nerd!’”

While we don’t have an exact release date for the Lizzie McGuire reboot yet, we do know that it will pick up with Lizzie’s life as she’s living in Brooklyn and about to turn 30.

“She’s older, she’s wiser, she has a much bigger shoe budget, which is super exciting. She has her dream job. She has kind of the perfect life right now,” Duff has said.

Taylor Swift’s New Music Video for ‘Christmas Tree Farm’ Is Filled With So Many Adorable Home Videos

Taylor Swift surprised fans this week by releasing a brand new song and music video—and a Christmas-themed one, at that.

On Thursday, Swift posted about the new music with a video asking her cats—Olivia, Meredith, and Benjamin—if she should drop the single she’d just written, instead of waiting a whole year for Christmas 2020. “When in doubt, ask the itty bitty pretty kitty committee. When they shun you with silence, ambivalence, and judgmental brush offs… just put the song out anyway. NEW XMAS SONG AND VIDEO (made from home videos 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦) OUT TONIGHT #ChristmasTreeFarm 🌲🎄🌲🎄🌲🎄🌲🎄🌲🎄🌲🎄🌲,” she wrote.

The singer also dropped a brand new music video for the song “Christmas Tree Farm,” which features a ton of adorable home video footage of Swift as a little girl with her parents and little brother, Austin. As her fans know, she did grow up on actual Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania before moving to Nashville to begin her music career, and you can see the magical spot in the video. “I actually did grow up on a Christmas tree farm. In a gingerbread house, deep within the yummy gummy gumdrop forest,” she tweeted. “Where, funnily enough, this song is their national anthem. #ChristmasTreeFarm song and video out now .”

How cute is she? I love seeing her open up what might just be her first guitar, knowing what we know now about where that gift led. The song is lovely, too though not Swift’s first foray into holiday music. In 2007, she released the album Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection, which included covers of songs like “Last Christmas” and “Santa Baby.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Taylor Swift release if her fans didn’t go deep diving for Easter eggs and clues about future projects. One fan drew attention to one of the home video’s dates. “Uhm… guys. Look at the date. November 23 1989. Taylor wasn’t born yet. 8 days until the end of the month and then 13 days later she was born… 8… 13. TS8 is coming #ChristmasTreeFarm @taylorswift13 @taylornation13,” they wrote.

Admittedly, that’s a bit of a stretch—but we do know Swift likes to hide clues in her songs and videos, so nothing is totally off the table.