I’m going to go on record and say this annual bookish guide is my favourite post of the year to work on. And so, it’s with great excitement that we’ve reached that time again! I stand by all my recommendations from previous years, which you can find by clicking here, here, and here. But without further ado, here are some gift ideas should you be looking to treat the bookish people in your life this Christmas – or if you just fancy treating yourself.
Bookends are a practical gift, helping someone to organise and display their ever-growing collection of books, but they’re also a cute way of adding some decoration to your shelves. There are all sorts of options, meaning you can pick a design that suits the recipient’s personal taste. I love owls, for example, and am very happy to have these little guys perched on my bookcase.
A collectable toy, statue, or figure of a beloved character is another way to add some personalised fun to your shelves. I have several from the Disney collection to accompany some children’s classics, a few of which can be seen below. If you want to go one better, I think one of these alongside a gorgeous copy of the relevant book would make a particularly lovely gift. On that front, I can highly recommend any editions illustrated by Robert Ingpen.
With big books and franchises, you won’t struggle to find lots of other examples, with Funko Pop! figurines probably being your best bet – like these characters taken from Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings.
PINS & BADGES
Badges could range from general bookish slogans and cute book designs, to specific quotes from the recipient’s favourite novels and authors. There are so many options out there to suit a range of tastes and budgets, with the following examples all available from Literary Emporium.
PORTABLE READING LIGHTS
This is a great little gift for any bookworm who likes to travel. You simply clip it onto your book and you can carry on reading long into the night – perfect for reading on planes without disturbing fellow flyers with the overhead lights. Along a similar vein, they’re also handy for students with roommates they don’t want to disturb with their nocturnal reading habits. You can get simple lights like the one shown below, or more playful designs, like one that resembles a golden snitch.
It’s not quite a universal truth, but I think it’s fair to say most bookworms love a bit of stationery. You can never go far wrong with a beautiful notebook, but The Literary Gift Company has lots of great alternative options. A few of my favourites from their range include Alice in Wonderland sticky notes, pencils inscribed with bookish sayings, a Jane Austen themed pencil case, and a novelty desk tidy that looks like a giant pencil sharpener.
LIT MAG SUBSCRIPTIONS
Ironically, the hardest thing to buy for many book lovers is, well, books. There’s always that inherent fear they’ll already own what you choose to buy them. That’s where literary magazines come in handy. Publishing original pieces regularly, they’re a great way to discover new writers. You could buy some back issues to let the recipient try the publication, or take out a subscription on their behalf, entitling them to however many issues are released throughout the next 12 months.
Ellipsis Zine is great for those who like short stories and flash fiction (I can vouch for them as both a reader and a writer, having had 4 of my own stories published in their most recent issues). Blood Bath Literary Zine contains a mix of fiction, poetry, and visual art centred around surrealist horror, whilst The Rialto is great for lovers of contemporary poetry from both established and emerging poets alike.
BOOK BOX SUBSCRIPTIONS
If you like the idea of a subscription service but would rather stick to actual books (often delivered alongside bits and pieces of bookish swag), there are still lots of options. You’ve probably heard of some of the big players, like Book of the Month and Owl Crate, but here are a few ideas if you’d prefer to go for something a little different. (For the record, I’ve only used the last company mentioned; the others I just love the sound of.)
Books That Matter is a monthly feminist themed subscription box that aims to ‘enlighten, educate and empower’. Each delivery includes a book by a female, trans or non-binary author, and at least 3 themed gifts produced by independent female creatives.
Mr B’s Reading Emporium will send a book to the recipient each month. Rather than a standardised selection, Mr B’s booksellers will handpick titles based on the recipient’s individual interests.
Bookishly has several subscription options on offer, including ones that pair books with tea or coffee. I particularly like the idea of their Classic of the Month box, which includes a classic text that has been covered by a gorgeous dust jacket designed exclusively for Bookishly.
Persephone publishes forgotten classics by women that had previously gone out of print. Their sleek, contemporary editions are beautifully produced, and each one boasts a stunning, uniquely patterned endpaper and matching bookmark. You can choose 6 or 12 books to be sent out monthly, or you can allow the recipient to choose their own titles instead from the Persephone catalogue.
Does the recipient have a favourite movie, TV show, video game, or suchlike? Chances are it has some great tie-in books that showcase concept art, storyboards, developer interviews, and behind the scenes insights. By combining two things they love, a companion book is sure to go down well, and since these coffee-table-style books are often very visual, they feel all the more gift-worthy. As an example, here’s a little look at an excellent Pan’s Labyrinth tie-in book I was given a while ago:
STOCKING STUFFER BOOKS
Small, inexpensive books that we’re less likely to buy for ourselves make great little gifts at this time of year. Here are a few suggestions, a couple of which are specifically Christmassy, and a couple of which could be read at any time of year.
Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay is a pocket-sized follow up to his previous hit, This is Going to Hurt. These real-life diaries from Kay’s time working as a junior doctor throughout the festive period promise to deliver his trademark pathos and dry humour.
Another Night Before Christmas by Carol Ann Duffy is a modern riff on the beloved story, published as a charming little hardback and beautifully illustrated by Rob Ryan’s paper cut-outs.
No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg collects speeches delivered by the celebrated teen climate activist. A recent updated edition contains extra speeches and the welcome addition of photography documenting her meteoric rise to the world stage.
Mr Salary by Sally Rooney is part of the Faber Stories range, which has lots of options for literary stocking stuffers. Given the huge success of Rooney’s novels, many readers would surely jump at the chance to read another sliver of her incisive work.
‘Beautiful books’ is a fairly subjective term, I grant you, but I reckon you’d be hard pushed to find someone who didn’t appreciate the aesthetic prowess of the following offerings. Graphic novels, coffee table books, and illustrated texts in general make wonderful gifts. After all, they look gorgeous, and they’re the kind of thing most readers are less likely to treat themselves to, making them feel all the more generous when gifted!
Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran is a twisted retelling of Snow White that vindicates the efforts of the so-called wicked queen by painting the eponymous heroine as the true villain of the piece.
Literary Witches by Taisia Kitaiskaia and Katy Horan celebrates the magic of female writers, both iconic and overlooked. Each entry is accompanied by a stunning portrait and recommended reading from the author’s oeuvre, making it both a gorgeous gift and a great means of discovering new writers.
The Fairy-Tale Princess by Wendy Jones and Su Blackwell retells 7 timeless stories, including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel. The real highlight, however, is Blackwell’s incredible artwork; photographs of 3D paper sculptures made from old books.
There we have it! I hope you picked up a few bookish gift ideas, and however you choose to spend it, I hope you all have a lovely festive period.