Personally, I love to get a book as a gift. However, giving someone else a book can be daunting, you never really know if the person will like it. Tastes and preferences are unpredictable even if a person shares your genetic code. I can’t count how many times I’ve bought my daughter a book thinking she’d love it only to have her leave it on a shelf collecting dust.
That does not mean no one should give books as a gift. Following a few simple rules might help…
First rule of book giving: Don’t give a book to someone you know isn’t a big “reader.” You’re probably not going to convert them just because you’ve wrapped the book up in some fun paper and a bow.
Second rule of book giving: Give something you would want to read or have read yourself (if you can). It’s always better to give a book you’ve loved than to pick a book just because you think the person might like the topic.
Third rule of book giving: Don’t stress over it! If your gift is thoughtful, it will be well received. Even if it’s not perfect and collects dust on a shelf, the person knows you cared enough to think of him or her and that’s pretty great.
Now, if you’re looking for some book suggestions, here are some possible books for all different types of friends and loved ones.
For the person in your life who…
…Obsesses over the podcast My Favorite Murderer
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
What’s it about: To be completely honest, I haven’t read this book yet. I don’t read a lot of crime fiction. But I’ve heard nothing but great things and it looks so interesting I WANT to read it. (And did I mention I’m not big on crime fiction?) It is described on Goodreads as “satire meets slasher in this short, darkly funny hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends.”
Why it makes a good gift: It’s short and the premise is different and unique. Even book lovers internally groan when someone hands them a book that could double as a weapon.
…Loves to read news about weird, true-life stories
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
What it’s about: According to Goodreads, “Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality–not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.”
Why it makes a good gift: Truth is stranger than fiction and this book keeps that saying alive. Even non-fiction readers will enjoy this character study of a man who just wanted to be alone.
…Has read every Harry Potter book and constantly refers to you as a “muggle”
Harry Potter 20th anniversary edition
What it’s about: I am not going to summarize Harry Potter. If you haven’t read it (or seen the movies), just move on.
Why it makes a good gift: Seriously, what do you get for the Harry Potter fan who has everything? You get them another book! The 20th anniversary edition! It just makes sense. I have every Shakespeare play in little paperback booklets, but if you try to take away my beautifully bound Shakespeare anthology (which survived a fire), you’d better be ready to lose a limb. When you love a book or writer that much, a new, beautiful anniversary edition is truly a gift.
…Tends to be on the introspective side
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
What it’s about: According to Goodreads, “At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.”
Why it makes a great gift: In a world dominated by extroverts (or introverts who have learned to be extroverts – SPOILER!), this book is a unique look at a personality type that doesn’t get a lot of attention and really can help both introverts and extroverts better understand the world in which they live. WAY better than a self-help book!
…Can’t Live Without YA Fantasy Novels
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Goodreads Author)
What it’s about: According to Goodreads, “Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy.”
Why it makes a great gift: First, the book is wonderful, just what YA fantasy should be and it has a powerful message. BUT, any YA fantasy lover must read the book before the movie comes out!! I don’t know when that will happen, but this book got a film option before it even came out. It’s that good!
Also, if you know someone who likes YA fantasy, try The Travelers by me! 🙂 Makes a great gift. (Sorry had to throw that shameless plug in there.)
…Prefers art to reading (and is over the Age of 18)
The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie (Illustrations), Matt Wilson (Colorist), Clayton Cowles
What it’s about: According to Goodreads, “A collection of the first five comic books of a series in which every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.”
Why it makes a good gift: For those “not really readers” in your life, this may be an option. Sure, some people think of comic books as “nerdy” but anyone who thinks that is a bad thing really has no place reading comic books anyway. This series has an interesting premise, great illustrations and sucks you in. I was so obsessed with the series I downloaded it on my phone when I wanted the next volume and it was 3 am and no comic book stores were open. (BTW, I don’t recommend reading it on your phone. Wait for the comic book store to open or get it rush shipped to you on amazon or something.)
…likes feel-good, happy stories (aka, ANYONE)
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
What it’s about: According to Goodreads, “You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world. QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town? ANSWER: You accept them all.”
Why it makes a good gift: My love of this book knows no bounds. I don’t love it because it won the Pulitzer. And winning the Pulitzer should NOT be a negative either, particularly for anyone who thinks Pulitzer-winners are stuffy, overly intellectual and usually about 200 pages too long (which many can be). This book is none of those things. It’s sweet and funny and wonderful. Just read it. You won’t regret it. Or give it as a gift. You won’t regret that either.
Let’s chat: Anyone else have recommendations for books that make great gifts??