Life·7 min read

10 Books to Unwind With This Holiday Season

What to read over Thanksgiving
Nov 18, 2021

While there’s plenty to look forward to come holiday weekends, let’s face it: They can also be a lot. Aka long days of travel, family drama, or hangovers (of the alcoholic and tryptophan kind). One way we love to combat the stress of it all is with some alone time and a good book. Whether it’s on a flight with headphones, or in the bathtub at the end of a long day. So we rounded up the 10 books we’re planning on unwinding with this holiday season. Merry everything — and happy reading. 

“My Body” by Emily Ratajkowski

Sometimes a book of essays can be difficult to get through. There are new scenes and stakes that start over again with each passage. This book of essays from the supermodel and actress extraordinaire, on the other hand, is the complete opposite — it’s compulsively readable, digestible, and genuinely page-turning. Ratajkowski waxes poetic on the fashion industry, misogyny, her modeling days, her experience filming the “Blurred Lines” music video, systems of power, motherhood, more. For anyone who was moved by the essay she wrote last year about owning her own image, this one’s a must-read. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)


“The Ex Hex” by Erin Sterling

Halloween may be over, but stories about breakups gone wrong are forever. Even if the main character is a witch. In this playful fall read, you’ll meet a 19-year-old witch who puts a hex on a guy who broke her heart. Years later he returns to their Georgia town and is still suffering from her powerful bewitching. And now, thanks to her all-too-effective charm, is risking the lives of everyone in town. Can they come together to save the day and mend their relationship? Only reading until the very end of this lighthearted rom-com will tell. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)


“The Perishing” by Natashia Deón

We’ll take one order of historical fiction with a side of sci-fi and mystery, please. This stunning novel follows Lou, a young woman who wakes up in an alley in 1930s Los Angeles with absolutely no memory of how she got there or who she is. After some peculiar coincidences she soon discovers maybe her existence isn’t all that it seems. It’s a deeply woven story that spans multiple timelines and will leave you breathless by the book’s end. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)


“Will” by Will Smith with Mark Manson

In West Philadelphia, born and raised...this fresh prince is getting candid about his iconic career, his pursuit of happiness, his painful childhood, and more. It does exactly what all good celebrity memoirs do: gives you interior, vulnerable access to what it’s like working in Hollywood, honest insight into someone’s personal life, and drops a few shocking revelations that’ll make you text the group chat immediately. It holds up with the best of the best of them. And even the most casual of Will Smith fans will eat it up. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)


“Wish You Were Here” by Jodi Picoult

Piccoult hive, rise up. One of our go-to authors for comfort reading set her latest book around Diana, a type-A almost 30-something who has her whole life plotted out. She wants to get married, have kids by 35, move to the’s all part of the perfectly crafted plan. But when a global pandemic puts her carefully vetted to-do list in flux, she ends up on an extended solo trip to the Galápagos. And enters into a journey of self-discovery and serious reflection that makes her question the life she thought she wanted. Netflix already scooped it up for an you know it’s good.(Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)


“The Days of Afrekete” by Asali Solomon

What time is dinner? In this satiric novel you’ll meet Liselle, who is throwing a dinner party after her lawyer-turned-politician husband loses his election. Add in the fact that he’s being investigated for corruption and that the FBI might arrest him any second, and Liselle can’t look in the mirror and recognize her life anymore. The only thing — rather, person — she can think of, however, is a college girlfriend named Selena. The book slips in and out of the present-tense dinner party and has such rich renderings of all the characters you’ll breeze right through it. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)


“Taste” by Stanley Tucci

Everyone’s favorite cocktail king is reflecting on life, film, and yes, food in this exceptionally charming memoir. He covers the good times and the bad (meals included) writing about growing up in Westchester, shooting foodie-forward movies like “Julie & Julia,” and how his cancer diagnosis changed his relationship with dining. For anyone who’s a fan of his movies — you’ll love him even more after devouring this read. It’s *chef’s kiss.* (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)


“Our Country Friends” by Gary Shteyngart

And just like that, the great American pandemic novel is here. We’ve got eight people (among them: a novelist, a psychiatrist, a K-pop-loving child, and even a movie star) living together in a country house in the Hudson Valley in March 2020. It’s the literary equivalent of “The Real World” — where everyone stops being polite and starts getting real during the group's six-month stay in isolation. It’s free of all the bad vibes you might be feeling when you think of a pandemic-set story. And by the book’s end, trust us when we say you’ll be sad to see these quirky characters go. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)


“Chasing the Truth: A Young Journalist's Guide to Investigative Reporting” by Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey, Adapted by Ruby Shamir 

If you’ve got a young adult coming to your house during the holidays, you’ll want to have this book on hand for them. Written by the journalists whose reporting on the Harvey Weinstein scandal helped spark the #MeToo movement, they’ve adapted their bestselling book for a younger audience. With this new edition they’re offering practical tips and tactical advice on reporting, how to get started as an investigative journalist, and more. It tells the story of how they broke the Weinstein investigation, and they share some reporting best practices along the way. It’s uber inspiring and the perfect thing to read or give as a gift this holiday season. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)


Psst: Want more from Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey? We chatted with them here and here.

“The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig

Part “Sliding Doors,” part “Groundhog Day,” this whimsical read explores something we’ve all probably thought about before: What if things in your life had happened differently and what if you could do it over again? You'll meet Nora, a depressed 30-something, who finds herself not in heaven, not in hell, but in a special middle ground known as the Midnight Library. It’s a vast space filled with books that offer her endless possibilities at life anew. With each read she opens, she’ll get to start over in another alternate reality version of her life — and explore all the what-ifs and unanswered questions. Magic awaits. (Amazon, Apple Books, Bookshop)


If you buy anything from this article, theSkimm may get something in return. Oh, and if something’s out of stock, oops, it was there (and all prices were accurate) when we published. Thanks.

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