Giving these books to the girlfriends in your group is like giving yourself a present, too. Just tell them to pass it down when they’re done.

For the clever mischief maker:
Kept: A Comedy of Sex and Manners
In this impressively deft debut novel about a Korean-American aristocrat who flirts with the courtesan trade to pay off credit card debt, the writing is immaculate: the story’s evolution nearly effortless, it has depth without being heavily messaged, light amusement without becoming fluffy and is a compelling multi-layered story without being plot-focused. And it’s difficult not to be charmed by a woman who looks up in the dictionary the words the boy she likes used to describe her, “pondering all [their] possible nuances.”

For the city girl:
The Emperor’s Children
By Claire Messud
Give the pleasure of reading this artful story, which on the surface is about the intersecting lives of three friends just beginning their thirties and living in New York City, composed of brilliantly plaited points of view and populated with dynamic, closely observed, complex characters, subtle plots lines rendered with perfect diction and immaculate writing that is heartfelt and intellectually engaging.

For the old-fashioned romantic:
The Blood of Flowers
By Anita Amirrezvani
Everything about Iran-born, former Northern California dance critic Amirrezvani’s debut novel is meticulously designed, down to its unnamed narrator, who elicits compassion and learns from her mistakes, but doesn’t fail to make new ones. It’s an entrancing tale of a quest for independence and self-reliance, and the discovery of one’s own worth.

For the young at heart:
Rosie Little’s Cautionary Tales for Girls
By Danielle Wood
These linked stories promise to reinvent the fairytale, originally meant to caution young girls against “bad” behavior. Marked in the table of contents not only by their titles but also categories, such as Virginity, Truth, Commitment, and Art, they are surprising reminders that we control the endings of our own stories.

For the life of the party:
Party Hawaii: A Guide to Entertaining in the Islands
By Kaui Philpotts, Photos Kaz Tanabe

This how-to book explores how we entertain in Hawai`i today, but also introduce you to new themes, decorations, recipes, locations and settings, and ways to shop like the locals do to prepare food whether for a potluck, baby lu`au, or stylish dinner party for your “closest” friends.

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