A Gift Guide for All Kinds of Readers

fall books

It’s holiday time! And that means it’s time to choose gifts for the people in our lives. Which can be fun, but can also be frustrating and difficult.

One of the best gifts to give is a book. How I love books. Plus they’re easy to wrap, easy to transport, and easy to re-gift if necessary.

But that leads to the question…what book?

Here are some suggestions for different categories of gift-recipients, with suggestions of books that I love.

If I’d made this list last week, or if I did it next week, I’m sure I’d come up with an entirely different list. I love so many books, it’s hard to pick out a few. But this is a start.

Book suggestions for all kinds of readers:

For a new parent: Operating Instructions, Anne Lamott (Amazon, Bookshop)

For the parent of small children: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (Amazon, Bookshop)

For a person interested in spirituality: Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather (Amazon, Bookshop)

For a person who loves celebrity memoirs: Born Standing Up, Steve Martin (Amazon, Bookshop); Born a Crime, Trevor Noah (AmazonBookshop)

For someone who loves to cook: Home Cooking, Laurie Colwin (Amazon, Bookshop)

For a fisherman: A River Runs Through It, Norman McLean (Amazon, Bookshop)

For a history lover: Their Finest Hour, Winston Churchill (Amazon, Bookshop)

For someone who loves a great study of character: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark (Amazon, Bookshop)

For a nature-lover: Into the Wild, John Krakauer (Amazon, Bookshop)

For someone who loves books about New York City: The Colossus of New York, Colson Whitehead (Amazon, Bookshop)

For a person who’s interested in sports and leadership: The Captain Class, Sam Walker (Amazon, Bookshop)

For someone who loves fantasy: American Gods, Neil Gaiman (Amazon, Bookshop)

For someone who loves to write: A Writer’s Diary, Virginia Woolf (Amazon, Bookshop)

For someone who loves memoir: Heavy, Kiese Laymon (Amazon, Bookshop)

For someone who loves science fiction: Lord of Light, Robert Zelazny (Amazon, Bookshop)

Book that changed my life: Why We Get Fat, Gary Taubes (Want to read my interview with Gary Taubes? Download it here.) (Amazon, Bookshop)

Book that was made into a movie, and both are brilliant: Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk (Amazon, Bookshop)

Book that I played hooky from work to stay home to read: The Stand, Stephen King (I recommend the standard, not the unabridged, version) (Amazon, Bookshop)

Book that people keep telling me to read: Bad Blood, John Carreyrou (Amazon, Bookshop); Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay (Amazon, Bookshop)

For someone who loves accounts of people coming into their vocation: Broken Places & Outer Spaces, Nnedi Okorafor (Amazon, Bookshop)

For someone who’s starting to date or looking for a job: First Impressions, Ann Demarais and Valerie White (Amazon)

For someone with a short attention span or who loves very short stories: Revenge of the Lawn, Richard Brautigan (Amazon, Bookshop)

For someone who loves essays: Selected Essays, George Orwell (Amazon)

For someone who loves science fiction: Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler (Amazon, Bookshop)

For a person interested in human nature: The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James (Amazon, Bookshop)

For a person interested in film: In the Blink of an Eye, Walter Murch (Amazon, Bookshop)

For a person interested in friendship: Truth and Beauty, Ann Patchett (Amazon, Bookshop)

For a person interested in journalism: The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcolm (Amazon, Bookshop)

For a person who loves a twist at the end: The End of the Affair, Graham Greene (Amazon, Bookshop)

If you’re buying a book for a child or young-adult,
check out my list of 81 Favorite Works of Children’s and Young-Adult Literature. So many good books!

Of course, I can’t resist recommending my own books.

If you’re giving one of my books as a gift, and want to put in a free, personalized bookplate to make it more special, sign up here to request one. Feel free to request as many as you want (within reason). Alas, because of mailing costs, I can offer this to people in the U.S. and Canada only. Sorry about that!

If you’d like to see what I’ve read, follow me on Goodreads. Or look on Facebook, where every Sunday night, on #GretchenRubinReads, I post a photo of the books I’ve read that week.

As I write about in my book Better Than Before, I’ve changed my reading habits so that now, if I don’t like a book, I stop reading it. So if you see a book listed in Goodreads or on Facebook, you know that I liked a book well enough to finish it.

I love to choose, give, and receive books!



Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter “5 things making me happy”.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.