A female past the age of sixty likes to read much the same books as any other woman - books that are fun, educational, funny, interesting, or beautiful. The usual recommendations I see for presents for mature women in their sixties and seventies are for diet books, anti-aging tomes, and how-to-recapture-the-romance fad books - boring! And - yuck! Here are some unusual, compelling or fascinating books that speak to the intelligent reader in her. They'll make great gifts for any celebration, such as a retirement or special family occasion, or for a holiday like Christmas or Hanukkah, Mother's Day or Valentine's Day or really, Just Any Old Day.
Many of these books are also available in audio format, if she prefers to "read" with her ears - just click on the links to find the Audio Cassette version.
Note: The following are books that would generally have appeal for women in their sixties and seventies. If you're looking for a birthday gift for her milestone birthday, you might want to see these suggestions for 60th birthday book gifts for women.
Gift Cookbooks an Older Woman Will Love
If she loves to cook, a woman in her sixties will probably have her favorite collection of recipes. But cookbooks are not just about cooking; they can be entertaining reading in and of themselves. These books are just that - enjoyable even if you never set foot in a kitchen!
A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table is an autobiographical book of memoirs by Bon Appetit columnist and Orangette blogger Molly Wizenberg centering around family mealtimes and cooking. This young woman traces the food-centered events of her past in delightful vignettes to show that food is not just a catalog of calories - it's all about family and self-discovery. Wizenberg's well-told personal stories earned this autobiography over 70 five-star reviews at Amazon.com.
Whether she's your female coworker, friend, wife, associate or family member, she doesn't have to be a vegetarian to appreciate the eclectic Asian cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey, World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. Even if she just likes Asian cuisine, from Korean to Chinese to Japanese and more, she will find these recipes gained from the author's personal travels to be out of this world. This comes from my personal experience: The instructions are amazingly well detailed, which helps the recipes come out perfect every time. (My favorite is the cauliflower, lima bean and almond Chinese stir-fry.)
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a classic cookbook by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck, is a hardcover with a monumental 524 recipes from French cuisine to challenge even an experienced cook. The recipes are easy to follow and range from those easy for beginning cooks to more complex recipes for cooks who've been at it for years. This is a marvelous book she'll be proud to add to her collection, especially if she likes French food.
Novel Gifts: Chick Lit for Older Women
If she likes fiction that's hip, realistic, and humorous, she'll love a Jennifer Crusie book as a present. A mature woman of over sixty, herself, and a college lecturer who started reading romance novels for her Ph.D. dissertation, Crusie went from studying the books to writing them and very quickly became a bestselling author of funny "chick lit," a subgenre of women's romantic fiction. Even readers who don't really like romance novels find they like Jennifer Crusie - her loveable characters and realistic writing make her novels a delight to read. With Bob Mayer, Crusie co-wrote the hilarious book recommended here, Agnes and the Hitman. Not very expensive but definitely a hit, with over 78 five star reviews at Amazon.com, this book is a lighthearted way to entertain your female recipient at very little cost.
Fiction Gifts: Fun Science Fiction Books for Mature Women
If she's a science fiction fan, she'll love these books of short and long fiction, which feature wonderful female characters.
Here Comes Civilization and Immodest Proposals comprise a 2-volume anthology by the indomitable William Tenn. They make a complete collection of his short stories and includes all his funny, thought-provoking and irreverent stories, many with cutting social commentary, including the classic The Brooklyn Project. William Tenn is one of the few Golden Age writers of science fiction who is still alive. A marvelous and family-friendly read. Any sci-fi lover should like William Tenn, and short story anthologies make a particularly great gift for busy women who might not have enough time to read longer novels.
Connie Willis, age 64 as of this writing, is the Nebula and Hugo-award-winning author of several science fiction novels. Her science fiction comedies in particular are a delight. An intelligent woman over 60 will laugh her way through To Say Nothing of the Dog, a well-researched, lighthearted humorous time-travel novel that takes place in England, past and future. The novel is a laughing bow to the 19th century classic humor book by Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog). If you want to make it a pair, another Connie Willis book she might enjoy is the intellectual and fascinating Bellweather, a novel about the history of popular fads in the United States - she'll never look at a Hula Hoop the same way!
Gift Biographies & Memoirs
With wit and wisdom, author Karen Karbo takes your female reader through the life of the famous fashion model and designer Coco Chanel in The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons From the World's Most Elegant Woman. Through her determination, vision and creativity, Chanel rose from having few material advantages to almost fairytale success, and in the process had an extraordinary affect on the fashion of the 20th century. A strong woman with a rich history reading this will have so much to take away from the designer's experiences and lessons for living.
A remarkable gift idea for a woman over 60 is Life's Spices from Seasoned Sistah's: A Collection of Life Stories from Mature Women of Color. This volume contains true stories and poetry from sixty mature women about their lives in all possible dimensions - family, food, finance, religion, and all the tragic and wonderful life events that occur over the course of a woman's journey through life. The voices of older African American, Asian, and Hispanic women resonate with universality - making this a book that can be appreciated by anyone of any color.