Book Gift Recommendations: Your Holiday Book-Buying Guide!

In my book-loving opinion, some of the greatest gifts you can give others are books! But picking out the right book can be tricky, so here are some recommendations for buying your loved one just the right book.

And if you’re wondering where to buy books, check out my blog post about 8 sites (that aren’t Amazon) where you can purchase books!

General Book Idea Suggestions

So you’re considering buying a book for someone, but you’re not sure which book to get them. Even if this person isn’t an avid reader, there may still be many amazing book options for them. Here are some ideas to get you started with brainstorming:

  • What are their interests? Do they skew more towards fiction or non-fiction?
  • If they watch movies and TV shows, what genres do they enjoy?
  • If they are an avid reader, might they have a wishlist of books they want?

If someone prefers more “practical” books, then buying them a non-fiction book may be a better route. There are many useful reference books a person may enjoy, such as:

  • Cook books
  • Instructional or how-to books (such as beginner’s guide to knitting, how to start your own business, etc.)
  • Reference books (such as astrology source books, Marvel character encyclopedias, tree/bird identifying guides, etc.)
  • Travel guides
  • DK has an amazing line of The __ Books, such as The Philosophy Book, The Mythology Book, etc., which summarize information and pair it with amazing visuals (browse encyclopedias and dictionaries from DK)
  • Also check out Yuval Zommer’s fact-filled children’s books

Or, perhaps someone may prefer a book visually pleasing to flip through or a good “coffee table book,” such as:

  • Photography books
  • Infographics
  • Local historical photo compilations
  • Architecture collections

On the other hand, for those who prefer fiction and stories, comics and graphic novels are a great medium that blend visuals and prose. Some types of comics to consider are:

  • Standalone graphic novels
  • Comic adaptations of novels (such as Dune, The Great Gatsby, Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower, etc.)
  • Comic strip collections (such as Calvin and Hobbs, Dilbert, etc.)

A loved one may also appreciate a favorite classic childhood book, such as The Giving Tree or Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Or, maybe you can create your own personal photo book for a loved one using a site like Snapfish!

Clearly, there are many options when it comes to choosing a book for someone. Keep reading to peruse some specific book recommendations!

Book Gift Recommendations: Your Holiday Book-Buying Guide

If they like… Science fiction

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Very short, compelling narrative voice, and chronicles a four-member team’s journey exploring planets

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Published in 1915, this short novel depicts life in an all-female utopia after a couple of male explorers find their secluded society

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

Severance by Ling Ma

Severance by Ling Ma

Speculative fiction about a pandemic

Book Gift Recommendations: Your Holiday Book-Buying Guide

If they like… Graphic novels

Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen

Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen

For a middle grade audience, wholesome and lovable, about two girls reconciling with their emotions in the woods, depicted in a unique and gorgeous art style

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Seminal and easy-to-access work exploring “what is a comic?” and how comics create meaning and interactions with readers

Unflattening by Nick Sousanis

Unflattening by Nick Sousanis

Very philosophical and meta, wicked cool drawings

Feelings by Manjit Thapp

Feelings by Manjit Thapp

Beautiful illustrations in a delightful color scheme which depict the narrator’s emotions as affected by the seasons

Book Gift Recommendations: Your Holiday Book-Buying Guide

If they like… Memoir

Gender Queer by Mai Kobabe

Gender Queer by Mai Kobabe

Memoir depicted in graphic novel format about the author Mai’s childhood and experience arriving at e/eir/em pronouns

Across that Bridge by John Lewis

Across that Bridge by John Lewis

Lewis’s experience leading the Civil Rights movement and their philosophy on non-violence

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Nontraditional memoir told in short sections about the author’s experience with her abusive ex-girlfriend; very literary

Know my Name by Chanel Miller

Know my Name by Chanel Miller

The memoir of the survivor from an internationally known rape trial–beautifully, eloquently, and heartbreakingly written

Barely Functional Adult: It'll All Make Sense Eventually by Meichi Ng

Barely Functional Adult: It’ll All Make Sense Eventually by Meichi Ng

Told partially in paragraphs and partially in comic, this book shares some of Ng’s lessons learned in life

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Hilarious, highly insightful, and truly wild tales from Trevor Noah’s childhood and young adult years living in South Africa

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Just Kids by Patti Smith

A glimpse into Patti Smith’s life in New York City during the 60’s and 70’s and her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, including pictures; excellent writing

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

Comic-style depiction of George Takei’s experience as a child during the Japanese imprisonment camps in WWII era U.S.; appropriate for a young adult age audience

Book Gift Recommendations: Your Holiday Book-Buying Guide

If they like… Non-fiction

The Comfort Book  by Matt Haig

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

Kind and loving reminders, told in very brief chapters

White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad

White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad

Historical and cultural context for the way women of color are systemically treated on a global scale

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh

Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh

Brief and peaceful introduction to mindfulness

Eating the Sun: Small Musings on a Vast Universe by Ella Frances Sanders

Eating the Sun: Small Musings on a Vast Universe by Ella Frances Sanders

Reflections on interesting scientific facts interspersed with quirky paintings

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

Disability Visibility edited by Alice Wong

Disability Visibility edited by Alice Wong

Collected essays by a range of people experiencing disability

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

Book Gift Recommendations: Your Holiday Book-Buying Guide

If they like… Historical fiction

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

One Vietnamese family’s account of their lives leading up to the Viet Nam War and their aftermath

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

Narrator Frannie is writing from a jail cell of her childhood growing up on a plantation in Jamaica and how she came to work in London. She was arrested for waking up covered in blood the morning after her employers were murdered, but she has no recollection of what happened.

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

A generational tale of women from a Cuban family line and their lives in Florida, alongside another line of Mexico-born mother-daughter who are separated by ICE

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

A generational saga of two family lines descending from a common ancestor in Ghana

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

Book Gift Recommendations: Your Holiday Book-Buying Guide

If they like… Literary fiction

Literary fiction is regular fiction but with a greater emphasis on quality writing

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Twin daughters of an ọgbanje born in Nigeria, and their consequent disconnection and reconnection across countries

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

A young person is killed in Nigeria, and this novel tells the story of his life and those left to grapple with the loss

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung

Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung

A daughter’s emotional reconciliation with her late father, told in brief vignettes

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

A Vietnamese son’s letter to his mother about his childhood, relationship with his matriarchs, and his queer identity

Book Gift Recommendations: Your Holiday Book-Buying Guide

If they like… Magical realism

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

Generations of Taiwanese women living between the mainland and America; a girl grows a tail

Parakeet by Marie Helene-Bertino

Parakeet by Marie Helene-Bertino

Leading up to the narrator’s wedding, the narrator drifts among Long Island; her grandmother comes to her in the form of a parakeet

People from my Neighborhood by Hiromi Kawakami

People from my Neighborhood by Hiromi Kawakami

Connected short vignettes into the absurd people and events within the narrator’s town

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi

Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi

An engaged couple board an entrancing train with their pet mongoose

Book Gift Recommendations: Your Holiday Book-Buying Guide

If they like… Fun, drama, and romance

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

A woman experiencing chronic illness makes a bucket list of activities, and butts heads with her apartment’s maintenance man, but soon sparks fly. This or the author’s other books about Chloe’s sisters: Take a Hint, Dani Brown or Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Sensational story of fictional celebrity Evelyn Hugo and the secrets behind her seven marriages as told to a reporter in modern day New York

Read Slanted Spines’ book review

Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Meddelin’s mother and four aunties set her up with a blind date whom she accidentally kills; as she and the aunts try to cover up the murder while organizing a wedding for a wealthy couple, humor and romance ensue


For more book lists from Slanted Spines, browse here.

For more book reviews from Slanted Spines, browse here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s