Sex Tips for Girls by Cynthia Heimel (Touchstone, $15). For my particular tribe of Boomer/Gen X'er females, Heimel's hilarious, wry, and surprisingly useful Sex Tips was our initiation. My college dorm-mates and I read sections aloud and fell off our pine-hewn loft beds weeping with laughter. "Zen and the Art of Diaphragm Insertion"? Such a funny essay it almost makes me miss diaphragms. Almost.
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott (Anchor, $16). Oh my God — when pushing out a baby, you might leave a very small turd on the operating table? Lamott has always been essential reading and vital information, the nervous girl's Virgil as to what adult life may have in store. A line that will stand for centuries, re: middle school — "It was springtime, for Hitler, and Germany."
Where Love Goes by Joyce Maynard (Vintage, $17). A divorced mom pushes her cart in a grocery store, fantasizing about a passionate man who will throw her down and love her wildly. Miraculously, there is such a man in the very next aisle. Will they meet? Will he woo her? How could it go wrong? This is a page-turner I read every few years about the desires, mistakes, and complexities of midlife. Never gets old.
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron (Shambhala, $14). Self-explanatory.
Liquid Light of Sex by Barbara Hand Clow (Bear & Co., $20). Those of us who came of age in the 1970s must have at least one astrology book (just as we must have Joni Mitchell's Blue). We can now replace Linda Goodman's 1978 Love Signs with Clow, recommended unironically by Dr. Christiane Wisdom of Menopause Northrup. When therapy and antidepressants fail, look to the star chart.
Women by Charles Bukowski (Ecco, $15). "I was 50 years old and hadn't been to bed with a woman in four years." Like Jonathan Ames's The Extra Man, this is a book I just weirdly relate to. KUSC on a transistor radio, cheap burgundy, a cigarillo — what else do you need at the end of the day? Just books.