• Linnea Archibald

2021 holiday gift guide for book lovers

It’s hard to believe, but the holiday season is upon us. With the buzz about potential supply chain hiccups, I’ve been trying to get my shopping done a bit early this year. I’m guessing you might be in a similar boat.

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To help you narrow the options, I put together a quick gift guide of suggestions perfect for the book lover in your life.


This list includes three book suggestions (non-fiction essays, non-fiction practical, and fiction), three gift suggestions to help your reader live their best cozy reading life, and three experiences to gift. The best part? The last section requires no supply chain considerations!


Enjoy and happy gifting, friends!


Books

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

One of the most glorious things about the reading life is that it can connect us with others. While the act of reading is a solitary one, discussing books and reading with others can take the experience to a whole new level. This slim book of essays will have every reader in your house saying “Me too!” when they read its pages.


In case you’re not familiar with her work, Anne Bogel made a name for herself in the reading community via her wonderful blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy, and her podcast, What Should I Read Next?. Whether or not your book lover has been a part of a real-life in-person book club or reading group, this book will make them feel connected to the community from the comfort of their own couch.


If you like this one, check out Bogel’s new reading journal too. I’ve heard it’s fantastic.


The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi

Non-fiction, particularly in the self-help category, can be a bit hit or miss for me, but this is one of my all-time favorites. After years of creating a podcast and blog by the same name, Kendra Adachi launched this fantastic and adorable little book in mid-2020 to much fanfare. It’s perfect for the non-fiction junkie in your life who’s tired of trying to shoehorn their life into a self-help guru’s mold.


The book is organized around 13 simple principles rather than rules (some examples: Decide once. Batch it. Schedule rest.). Instead of prescribing a system and saying you have to follow it to be successful, the principles are flexible enough to fit into your life in the way you need them to. It’s endlessly insightful and kind. It’s the book you want to read before you make 27 New Year’s resolutions that you’ll abandon on January 15.


And if you like it, Adachi has a new book coming out in March 2022 all about applying the principles to your kitchen. You can pre-order it here.


Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

Did you really think I’d leave Wendell Berry off this list? NEVER! The story is narrated by Hannah as she reflects on her life in the Port William Membership and the two great loves in her life—one from her youth, and one from her maturity. It’s a warm welcome into Berry’s beautiful world that would be perfect for the holiday season.


This is not a flashy book and if the reader in your life prefers something fast-moving and plot-heavy, this may not be it (might I recommend Jane Harper? Give The Dry a go). But if you’re looking for something that can serve as a comforting companion that explores human relationships, both romantic and communal, I highly suggest it. I cried multiple times while reading it and so did my husband and mother.


If this fits the bill, there’s a whole slew of other Port William books to pick up next too. You’re essentially gifting someone membership in Port William. What a wonderful gift.


Gifts

The World of Shakespeare 1,000-piece puzzle

What’s the perfect activity to accompany audiobook listening? Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with a puzzle. There are tons of great bookish options out there, but I especially loved this adorably illustrated Shakespeare puzzle by Adam Simpson. A thousand pieces is a nice difficulty level for a snowy day inside with an audiobook too—enough to keep you occupied without making you crazy.


Literary teas from Simpson & Vail

Okay, I know their website looks a little like the 1990s, but my sister-in-law gave me a box of this tea several Christmases ago and it was a delight. Each tea in their literary collection is named and inspired by a famous author. If your reader is also a tea drinker (as many of us are), this would be a great gift. My personal favorites were the Louisa May Alcott green tea and the Beatrix Potter herbal blend.


Bonus points: it’s consumable and they won’t need to make space in their homes for a permanent addition (my inner minimalist is happy).


Book mug from Rifle Paper Co.

To go along with the tea suggestion, why not a mug inspired by classic books? Rifle Paper Co. is one of my favorite brands in general and this mug is one of my favorite pieces they’ve created. Combine it with tea, a book, and a cozy blanket and you’ve created the perfect winter day kit for the reader in your life.


They also make variations with travel-inspired illustrations and florals for the traveler and the gardener in your life, respectively.


Experiences

Local bookstore tour day

In my opinion, there are few things as exciting as the words “let’s go to the bookstore today.” If you like to gift experiences, why not make a list of all the independent or used bookstores (or a mix of both) in your area and take your book lover on an adventure? You could consider combining it with a gift card to specific stores so they can pick up a title at each spot, or just offer to chip in/pay for the haul. Either way, you’re bound to have a great day exploring your local book scene.


If you’re in the Massachusetts/New Hampshire/Maine area and need help selecting your stops, I put together a list of my favorite local shops on the blog.


Attend a local author event

Book events are so much fun and I know, as a reader myself, being gifted a ticket to one would be a welcome surprise. Given the state of the world, many book tour stops are being done virtually, which opens up your options as well. Poets & Writers has a list of events, but it’s also worth looking through your local bookstore’s calendar page as they often have hyper-local event listings as well.


Visit a local literary history site

If you live in an area with a bit of literary history as we do here in New England, it’s likely there are museums and historical sites associated with those authors. Depending on your reader’s tastes, you may be able to set up a visit to one of their favorite author’s homes or haunts! If there are several sites in your area, you could set up a pilgrimage and visit a few for a full-day experience. Again, Poets & Writers has a great list, but make sure to search your particular area too.


Are you shopping for a book lover this holiday season? What’s the best literary gift you’ve ever given or received?


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