Gift Guide: Strong Female Characters Wanted

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Books & Mortar gives West Michigan Woman readers a solid list of books to give for the holidays. Know what else sweetens the deal? Books are square, so they're a cinch to wrap.

Jenny Kinne, part-time employee-turned-owner, is operating her new business with the same philosophy that's served this community bookstore well: to remain consciously curated, fiercely independent and proudly progressive. She's handpicking every book, making sure there's a diverse collection.

"We are as independent as they come."We really try and lift up social justice issues and support local nonprofits for progressive change."

This holiday season, Kinne wants more books under the tree—and for good reason.

"Books stick with us and they become a part of the fabric of our lives," said Kinne, as she describes bookstores as sacred spaces where we can sit down and turn off the noise of our fast-paced lives and screen-filled worlds.

Plus, books are so personal.

"If someone buys you a book, they spent time to think about who you are, what you like and what might help you thrive in your world."


Kinne's take on the popular books of the season and why they're a big deal.

Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee
This book is doing something a little different, with the idea of joy. Many books of a similar nature teach us to look inside ourselves for happiness and satisfaction. Here, we're asked to examine how our physical surroundings can create or prevent joy. Readers will appreciate their environment and surroundings more—especially important as we head into the winter months.

You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Written in the tone of a friend (who's funny and likes to swear a lot), this has been a popular one at the store. It's not your average self-help book. It's about becoming your best self by setting big goals and getting past your own fears. It's a relatable, fast read with the central argument that you are the only person standing in the way of your own goals and dreams.

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott
I'm a huge Anne Lamott fan and I'm not alone. If you're feeling any bad emotions about the world right now—angry, sad, helpless—this little book will make you hopeful. It's about finding happiness in dark times and would make a phenomenal gift.

In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons From 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules by Karen Karbo
I love this book and own this book. It tells the story of rule-breaking women like Amelia Earhart, Hillary Clinton, Amy Poehler and Shonda Rhimes. It's funny and inspiring; it shows readers how being difficult as a woman is not always easy, but is good for us. We've gotten so much from these women.

Becoming by Michelle Obama
This is the perfect book for people missing the Obamas. She talks about challenges faced in her professional and personal life. There's a lot here about what she went through as a human being and how she undertook the project of the most inclusive White House in history. If there's a five-star, must-read list, this book is on it.


Befitting titles from grade-school to teen years, these books are girl-powered.

Legendary Ladies: 50 Goddesses to Empower and Inspire You by Ann Shen
For teens and adults, this choice showcases 50 famous deities from cultures across the globe. There's beautiful artwork and you learn about the spiritual female influences of the world.

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh
Women have always been creating things that make our lives better. History tends to tell the story of male inventors, but not female inventors. This is a great fit for an industrious girl.

Women In Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played To Win by Rachel Ignotofsky
This book dispels the myth that sports and athletics are a masculine thing. It encourages young girls to be athletic and engage in sports—and there's also a Women in Science title available in the series.

Books & Mortar is located at 955 Cherry Street SE, Grand Rapids, and available online.

More local book resources include: Schuler Books & Music, Epilogue Books, Argos Book Shop and Redux Books.

Missy Black is a footwear fanatic, a style child, and a contributing writer for West Michigan Woman.


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