2019 Holiday Book Gifting Guide

The holidays are upon us, people! Can you believe the year has gone by so quickly? December will surely fly by, and you don’t want to find yourself gift-less at twilight on Christmas Eve. Fear not; I am here to help you with all of your book-related gifting needs! Find here the perfect gift for your social activist cousin, your amateur chef mother, your Insta-famous BFF, and everyone in between.

Disclaimer: Many of these gifts I can and do vouch for. Any book that I’ve personally read and loved will have a * next to it. Others are books that I’ve heard wonderful things about or that are just plain cute.

Included in this guide are five distinct sections to help you find just the right gift for your loved one with ease:

Illustrated + Coffee Table Books

There is truly nothing better than getting home from work, flopping on the couch, and leisurely flipping through a gorgeous book. Know someone who agrees? These illustrated books and coffee table books may just be perfect for them.

  • The Dogist* – A “beautiful, funny, and inspiring tribute to the beloved dogs in our lives.”
  • Excuse Me* – “A razor-sharp collection from the acclaimed New Yorker cartoonist and Instagram sensation.”
    See my review!
  • Humans of New York: Stories – The creator of @humansofny “presents a whole new group of people in stunning photographs, with a rich design and, most importantly, longer stories that delve deeper and surprise with greater candor.”
  • Sad Animal Facts* – “A delightful and quirky compendium of the Animal Kingdom’s more unfortunate truths, with over 150 hand-drawn illustrations.”


The holidays = good food, so why shouldn’t they also = the enablement of making good food? Give the best cookbooks to your loved ones, and in turn they will cook you good food. Win, win.

Literary + Contemporary Fiction

Is she in a book club? Does he reminisce often about the classics he read in college? These absolutely amazing novels are going to be perfect for them.

  • The Water Dancer – If it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for your sister. “A boldly conjured debut novel about a magical gift, a devastating loss, and an underground war for freedom.”
  • Mrs. Everything* – Possibly my favorite book of the year; “a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world.”
    See my review!
  • If You Want to Make God Laugh – “A rich, unforgettable story of three unique women in post-Apartheid South Africa who are brought together in their darkest time and discover the ways that love can transcend the strictest of boundaries.”
  • A Woman is No Man* – I very highly recommend this novel. “A story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.”
    See my review!
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had – Do you love a family saga? This one’s for you. “Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, this novel explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us.”
  • Daisy Jones & The Six* – This one is a quick read, told through the use of fictional quotes. Very unique and very good. “A gripping novel about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, revealing the mystery behind their infamous breakup.”
    See my review!
  • Queenie – “A remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.” Plus, the cover is stunning.
  • The Silent Patient* – Best. Thriller Ever. “A shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.”
    See my review!
  • Red, White, & Royal Blue – Non-hetero contemporary romance – yes, please! “What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?”

Memoirs + Nonfiction

Calling all lovers of the crushing realities of life! These stellar nonfiction books – memoirs, history, politics, and more – are for YOU.

  • She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement* – Just an absolutely fantastic journalistic telling of a well-known, but not quite well-understood moment in recent history. “From the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters who broke the news of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and abuse for the New York Times, the thrilling untold story of their investigation and its consequences for the #MeToo movement.”
  • Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story* – This is an amazing memoir – one that will expand your mind and pull at your heartstrings. “A deeply personal story of trauma and healing, a powerful reflection on gender and self-acceptance, and a hilarious guidebook for wearing tacky clip-on earrings in today’s world.”
    See my review!
  • Know My Name – ” She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus.” A book that “will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing.”
  • From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home* – I also recommend you have tissues on hand for this one. “A poignant and transporting cross-cultural love story set against the lush backdrop of the Sicilian countryside, where one woman discovers the healing powers of food, family, and unexpected grace in her darkest hour.”
    See my review!
  • Good Talk: A Memoir of Conversations* – A fantastically unique format for a thoughtful memoir. “Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.”
    See my review!
  • Midnight in Chernobyl – A “definitive, years-in-the-making account of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster—and a powerful investigation into how propaganda, secrecy, and myth have obscured the true story of one of the twentieth century’s greatest disasters.”

Not Books

The book lover in your life will truly appreciate these cozy, cute, customizable gifts tangentially related to books. They might have too many books anyway – that is, if you – unlike me – believe that there’s such a thing as “too many books.”

  • Pink Turntable – A “compact, 3-speed turntable allows you to play your favorite vinyl records fashionably and with ease.”
  • ‘Sorry I’m Booked’ Crewneck – Another mega-cozy crewneck sweatshirt and the perfect excuse for avoiding social activities while you’re reading an amazing book.
  • Merch from your local, beloved indie bookstore – May I recommend a beautiful mug from Literati in Ann Arbor?

I hope that this gift guide inspires you to put a smile on your favorite person’s face. End up buying anything you see here, or get something that’s on this list? I would so love to hear from you about them and celebrate with you. Let’s chat in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!

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