Gift Guide for the Book Lover

I love giving books as gifts. I know many gift guides for book lovers (like Modern Mrs. Darcy's and Everyday Reading's) are for non-book gifts, but the only non-book bookish gift I've found is this tote bag I gave my mom last Christmas. It was a hit, in case you're looking for something similar.

But I want to suggest books for the readers in your life, because books offer a great way to connect with people you care about and can provide new levels of conversation and inside jokes. Without further ado, the guide:

For the Memoir Lover:
1. Rewrites by Neil Simon
 I had never heard of Neil Simon before this book was recommended to me, and I was instantly swept up in his life as playwright and screenwriter. His descriptions of his failures and successes, his wife, and his inner turmoil were beautiful and touching.

2. Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett
Patchett's writing, which is always wonderful, shines in this book about her friendship with Lucy Grealy. It's heart-rending and sweet and I finished it in a day.

3. The Red Circle by Brandon Webb
Webb was a Navy SEAL sniper who served multiple times in the Middle East and ended up as a sniper trainer. His story feels unique and insightful about this group of people I had known so little about.

For the History Lover:
1. Liar Temptress Soldier Spy by Karen Abbott
It's so wonderful to read an account from a fresh angle on the Civil War, and this nonfiction gem about the experiences of these four women spies and patriots was enthralling.

2. Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick
For some reason, I love reading and learning what I can about North Korea. Demick's book is probably my favorite of those I've read. She interviews escapees from North Korea and their individual stories are telling and terrifying.

3. Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
This book is a great description of the Chicago World's Fair. It alternates between all the calamities that went on as the fair was being built and a murderer who used the World's Fair to seduce and kill women. It is kind of an obscure topic in history and makes for an interesting read.

For the Long Novel Lover:
1. The Brothers K by David James Duncan
 Intricate and deep, this book delves into the psychology of the Chance family, parents and six children. The characters are unforgettable and the story is memorable.

2. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
 Stegner's novels are all amazing, but I loved this one about marriage. The narrator reflects on his own marriage and the state of marriage in the turbulent times he's writing in (1970s) as he attempts to unravel the secrets behind his grandparents' marriage.

3. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
At times this novel is painful, at times joyous, and overall the reading experience is one you'll never forget. The story of a nun and doctor and their twin sons, set in Ethiopia and the United States is so original that you will wish you could read it for the first time again and again.

For the Design Lover:
1. The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman
With years of experience as the founding editor in chief of Domino magazine, Needleman walks you through each aspect of designing a room, from the smallest lamps to decorating walls and choosing sofas. Its timelessness and great advice make for a wonderful read.

2. The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith
 I love the tagline for this book, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." The author is a big believer in making your home yours right now, which is a message I loved hearing. There is a perfect blend of personal experience and how-tos.

3. Design Mom by Gabrielle Stanley Blair
 I love love love Gabrielle's site, Design Mom, and her book did not disappoint. It was full of practical tips for living with kids and lots of beautiful pictures.

For the Short Story Lover:
1. Brief Encounters with Che Guevara by Ben Fountain
 These stories are eclectic and haunting, with a unique writing style that does an excellent job of inserting you right into the story. I loved how varied the locations of his stories are (Sierra Leone, Haiti, etc.) and the way they made me think after reading them.

2. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
 Lahiri has a gift of being able to make the characters in her story relatable, and this short story collection is an excellent example of what I think is great about her writing.

3. Skin and Other Stories by Roald Dahl
 In classic Dahl form, each of these stories have a weird flavor and unexpected twist. I first read this when I was a teenager, and when I picked it back up years later I was surprised to discover that I could still remember many of the stories because of how memorable they are.

For the Classics Lover:
1. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
An easy to read classic, this book is full of good guys and bad guys with many twists and turns along the way. You'll find yourself rooting for Marion Holcombe and marveling at Count Fosco's evilness.

2. My Antonia  by Willa Cather
 The American West is practically its own character in this book about a young boy, Jim, and an immigrant girl, Antonia. Their experiences in Nebraska as children profoundly influence them and this book is a beautiful telling of their lives.

3. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
 The New York society told of by Wharton is this beautiful classic was made up partly by her own memories, which makes it feel real. The story is about love and sacrifice, and certain passages haunted me long after I finished it.


  1. I love memoirs—never really thought about it, but it's true—and the Neil Simon pick sounds great. Thank you!


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