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PASSIONISTAS GIFT GUIDE: Radiant Reads: The 10 Best Books Celebrating the Strength of Women


'Tis the season to spread some literary cheer! Wrap up the magic of captivating tales spun by incredible women authors. Whether you're diving into the adventures of hilarious comedians or immersing yourself in the incredible strength of those tackling life's toughest hurdles, our holiday guide has the perfect page-turner for every mood. These stories aren't just gifts; they're invitations to laugh, reflect and celebrate the wonderful tapestry of human experiences together. Unwrap the joy of triumph, resilience and growth with our specially chosen selection below.


Note: The following are affiliate links. The Passionistas Project will receive affiliate income if you purchase through this link, at no cost to you. We only recommend products that we believe in from women we know or trusted brands we’ve discovered.














1. "HOME BAKED: MY MOM, MARIJUANA, AND THE STONING OF SAN FRANCISCO" by ALIA VOLZ

"Home Baked" tells the unbelievable true-life story of Alia Volz's mother who ran Sticky Fingers Brownies, a pioneering underground bakery that delivered ten thousand marijuana edibles per month to a city in the throes of change — from the joyous upheavals of gay liberation to the tragedy of the Peoples Temple. Dressed in elaborate costumes, Alia’s parents hid in plain sight, parading through the city’s circus-like atmosphere with the goods tucked into her stroller in the 1970s, when cannabis was as illicit as heroin. When HIV/AIDS swept San Francisco in the 1980s, Alia’s mom turned from dealer into healer, providing soothing edibles to those fighting for their lives at the dawn of medical marijuana. By turns heartbreaking, exhilarating and laugh-out-loud funny, "Home Baked" celebrates an eccentric and remarkable extended family, taking us through love, loss, and finding home.


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2. "THE OFFICER'S DAUGHTER: A MEMOIR OF FAMILY AND FORGIVENESS" by ELLE JOHNSON

Elle Johnson has had a long and illustrious career as a television writer and producer who brings a true sense of realism to crime shows like "CSI: Miami," "Law & Order" and "Bosch." Once you read her memoir, "The Officer's Daughter," you understand why. Elle’s father was a highly protective, at times overbearing, parole officer and her uncle was a homicide detective. But it's a terrible tragedy involving the murder of her cousin that forever altered the fabric of her family in this remarkable memoir, a heart-wrenching story of love, violence, coming of age, secrets, justice and forgiveness. This book has all the twists and turns of the best television drama tackling the unflinching honesty of what parents can and cannot do to protect their children, the reverberations of violence on survivors’ lives and the overwhelming power of forgiveness, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy.


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3. "FOREVER 51" by PAMELA SKJOLSVIK

We know you think you've read every take on vampires possible. But author Pamela Skjolsvik breathes a whole new life into the vampire trope by exploring what would happen if a woman gets turned in the throws of menopause. In Pamela's tale, Veronica is eternally fifty-one years old with a proclivity for problematic drinking. Like most hormonally challenged women negotiating the change of life, she is a hot mess. To retain her sanity, she attends weekly AA meetings and adheres to a strict diet of organic, locally-sourced, (mostly) cruelty-free human blood from the hospice facility where she works. Her life stopped being fun about a hundred years ago, right about the time her teenage daughter stole her soul and took off for California with a hot, older guy. These days, Veronica’s existence is just that – an existence, as flat and empty as her own non-reflection in the bathroom mirror. Fans of Alice Hoffman ("Practical Magic") and Grady Hendrix ("Horrorstör") will love the snarky and supernatural storytelling found in "Forever 51."


Get the latest price and buy now HERE.













4. "JANIS: HER LIFE AND MUSIC" by HOLLY GEORGE WARREN

Holly George-Warren is a two-time Grammy nominee and the award-winning author of sixteen books, including her latest, "Janis: Her Life and Music." This blazingly intimate biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock & Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was. Janis might be the Queen of Rock & Roll but Holly is certainly the Queen of Rock & Roll Authors as proven in this most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin’s family, friends, band mates, archives and long-lost interviews, "Janis" is a complex, rewarding portrait of a remarkable artist finally getting her due.


Get the latest price and buy now HERE.













5. "I HAVE CHOSEN TO STAY AND FIGHT" by MARGARET CHO

This is the perfect holiday present for the activist in your life who could use a good laugh — and really, couldn't we all right about now? Comedienne and activist, Margaret Cho, shares her experiences and misadventures in political advocacy for such causes as the freedom of expression, gay rights, racial discrimination and capital punishment, in an account that makes humorous recommendations for surviving in a rocky political landscape.

Get the latest price and buy now HERE.














6. "STUTTERER INTERRUPTED: THE COMEDIAN WHO ALMOST DIDN’T HAPPEN" by NINA G

Step into the world of Nina G, "The San Francisco Bay Area’s Only Female Stuttering Comedian." Laugh along as she confronts societal perceptions of stuttering, on and off the stage. Nina's memoir reflects the experience of people with disabilities, emphasizing the need for an accessible and inclusive society.


Get the latest price and buy now HERE.














7. "THE BOOK OF HOPE: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR TRYING TIMES" by DR. JANE GOODALL

Anyone who knows us is aware that Dr. Jane Goodall is our lifelong hero. We were honored to welcome her into the Passionistas fold when she accepted our Passionistas Persist Icon Award in 2022. Our one burning question when talking with her during the ceremony was, "Dr. Goodall, what is your message of hope?" Needless to say, it's a concept she's spoken and written about for decades. And her survival guide touches on vital questions, including: How do we stay hopeful when everything seems hopeless? How do we cultivate hope in our children? What is the relationship between hope and action? Filled with moving and inspirational stories and photographs from Jane’s remarkable career, “The Book of Hope” is a deeply personal conversation with one of the most beloved figures in the world today. It's a must read for all the Passionistas on your list as we enter into the New Year.


Get the latest price and buy now HERE.













8. "I COULD BE WRONG: 50+ BLOG POSTS, SHORT READS, BIG LAUGHS, WIT & WISDOM" by BILLIE BEST

Being a woman over 50 can we so challenging that sometimes you've just got to laugh. So laugh! Love! Listen! Billie’s relatable point of view will have you doing all three as she shares the everyday truths of life beyond 60 in this collection of essays and short stories originally published on her blog at billiebest.com. Easy reading meant to be consumed in bite-sized chunks, these three-minute riffs offer a mini vacation for your mind with bursts of gut punching humor, insightful observations and colorful characters. Just what you need to age fearlessly. You’ll be validated, inspired and amused.


Get the latest price and buy now HERE.













9. "DARKNESS WAS MY CANDLE: AN ODYSSEY OF SURVIVAL AND GRACE" by LORA DEVORE

In the memoir "Darkness Was My Candle: An Odyssey of Survival and Grace," Lora DeVore fearlessly shares her experiences battling poverty and violence as a young girl. Her early trauma led to her institutionalization soon after she started college, an incarceration she would not have survived but for a courageous nurse who fought for her release. Fifty years later, with an advanced degree in clinical psychology, a long career as a successful mental health professional, a leading educator and sought-after public speaker, Lora revisited the grounds of the Illinois state mental hospital where she was once kept in inhumane, degrading and life-threatening circumstances. This profound and compelling memoir traces her life as a survivor of child abuse, sex trafficking, illegal pharmacological drug research and institutional abuse. Lora's experiences illuminate and validate the power of love and the strength of the indomitable human spirit that lives within each one of us. This is her story.

Get the latest price and buy now HERE.














10. "MAY YOU LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES: A MEMOIR" by LARAINE NEWMAN

To say that Laraine Newman has lived in interesting times might be one of the understatements of the century. She went from studying mime in Paris under the tutelage of Marcel Marceau to becoming a founding member of the seminal comedy troupe The Groundlings and when she was just 23 years old Lorne Michaels offered her a spot in the original cast of "Saturday Night Live." This book follows her life alongside her fellow Not Ready for Primetime Players — John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtain, Garret Morris and Gilda Radner and Bill Murray (who joined in Season 2) — through her thriving career as a voiceover actor in films like "Finding Nemo," "Monsters, Inc.," "Despicable Me," "Inside Out," "Shrek" and "Minions."


Get the latest price and buy now HERE.














BONUS BOOK:

"LOVE NOTES AND PRAYERS" Ebook by DR. MELISSA BIRD

Dr. Melissa Bird is a multi-hyphenate feminist, author, preacher, healer coach and truly magical soul. One of the highlights of our week is getting Dr. Bird's Love Notes email blast. No matter how down we might feeling, her generosity of spirit and infinite wisdom fills us with the energy to flourish. Now she's gathered her "Love Notes and Prayers" into a new ebook that's a song for your soul, a message of love from the forrest. Her love notes and prayers are a reminder of the collective human experience on earth that will uplift any Passionista on your list during this time of peace, love and joy.


Get the latest price and buy now HERE.
















BONUS IDEA:

RIFLE PAPER CO. Tote Bag from ANNA BOND at RIFLE PAPER CO.

Since you'll be gifting all of these amazing books, why not do a nice deed for the planet and "wrap" them in this adorable tote bag from Anna Bond at Rifle Paper Co. You'll save a few trees and your loved one will be able to carry all their wonderful new gifts home at the end of a bountiful Christmas day. Made of a sturdy and reliable canvas fabric, this beautiful tote ensures long-lasting durability and features Rifle Paper Co.'s fun Book Club design. The design adds a touch of effortless style to any outfit, making it a versatile accessory and a convenient carry.


Get the latest price and buy now HERE.


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