I could describe myself in many ways—mother, sister, hiker, baker, writer, and so on—but reader has remained a longstanding identity, ever since I pieced together my first words as a toddler. My family jokes about my inability to be without a book, and they’re not wrong. And because of this, I don’t think there’s any gift as powerful and transportive as a great book—since it opens your world in ways nothing else can.
As someone who considers sitting in a bookstore one of life’s great pleasures (and would happily sit reading over watching a movie any day), I’ve gotten my share of great book-related gifts over the years. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the book lover or avid reader in your life, you’re in the right place. These are my 15 recommendations of gifts—either books or book-adjacent—that would both surprise and delight any reader.
1. Your Favorite Books
A good book recommendation is a priceless gift; I also think it’s a way to give a little bit of yourself—by offering a choice that’s meaningful to you. Unwrapping a book with a note saying, “I couldn’t put this story down last year” or “This was my favorite growing up” is a lovely way to share your own pleasure with someone else. Lots of avid readers are familiar with, or have already read, the top lists of current bestsellers, so it’s nice to get new and off-the-beaten-path ideas. Need inspiration? I like to gift this absolute gem of a novel by a brilliant writer who should be a household name; this captivating and enchanting story.
2. Book-Themed Candle
Lushly fragrant scented candles paired with literary quotes make a nice and lasting gift for a reader. Each one matches a different author, from Jane Austen to Oscar Wilde. For something even more evocative, this candle smells of Indian sandalwood and leather, and will transport you to an old library full of bound books.
3. Book of the Month Club
Thank goodness this club exists! My younger sister gifted me a membership this year, and it feels like the most thrilling and never-ending present to unwrap. Each month, you get to choose one book from a smartly curated selection of five options ranging from historical non-fiction to memoir to essays to literary fiction. You can gift a subscription of three, six, or 12 months.
4. A Gorgeous Coffee Table Book
The pages of this beautiful tome are filled with stunning photography of the personal libraries and bookshelves of notable readers around the world. You get to peek into the houses of people like novelist Ann Patchett or bookstore owners. It’s fun to see how people who love books decide to display them—and a pleasure to escape into the visual world of books.
5. Local Bookshop Gift Card
Supporting local bookshops is a cause any reader will appreciate—plus, a lover of books will welcome the excuse to spend hours perusing shelves and chatting with bookstore owners. I try to buy my books from my small local bookshop whenever I can, and I find that independent bookshops in other towns offer a wonderful opportunity to get to know a place. Do a little research to find a bookshop near your intended gift recipient; it’ll be a more personal way to give them an open-ended gift they can really use.
6. A Perfect T-Shirt
What better way to convey a love of reading than by wearing the sentiment right on your clothing? This T-shirt from the wonderful Books are Magic bookstore in Brooklyn says it all. Bonus points for being soft and comfortable and very nice-looking.
7. A Book-Themed Puzzle
Just like having a good book in hand, having a good puzzle in the house means you’ll never be bored. For readers, this puzzle is even more fun with its colorfully arranged shelves of books. You can also find some beautiful options that showcase classic paperbacks.
8. Themed Book Set
Since discovering Juniper Books and their offering of whimsical book jackets, I’ve given them as gifts again and again. You can customize your own set with names or pictures, or choose from their huge selection—some of their sets are bundled together by theme, like books about skiing or Irish literature, while others are arranged by author. All the jacket art is created thoughtfully to both hint at the books within, and to add a pop of interest to your shelves. My favorites are the We Write, We Rise set and the wilderness classics set. For young readers, I recommend the Wizard of Oz set or a personalized book set.
9. Stunningly Artistic Bookends
Every bookshelf needs bookends. Rather than a merely utilitarian set, wrap up some that combine form and function. I’d be thrilled to receive this hand-turned maple set in black and white or these ceramic beauties. You can, of course, find something more whimsical—bookends come in every shape and size from gold pineapples to agate slabs.
10. A Literary Mug
Okay, yes, there’s nothing cozier than drinking tea while reading a book. To encourage the habit, a book-themed mug will both serve a useful purpose and make your favorite book lover smile. I’d happily drink out of this mug, designed to mimic an old-school library card.
11. Adorable Socks
Speaking of libraries, these toddler socks might be the cutest clothing for any book-loving parent. Though today’s kids might not have the pleasure of ever holding a paper library card with its dozens of dates stamped haphazardly across the surface, these socks will keep the magic alive. And oh, did we mention an adult version?
12. Ideal Bookshelf Print
These brilliant art prints feature all manner of book collections, from stacks of cookbooks to the New York Public Library’s most checked-out books. Not only are they fun to stare at, but they’re a cool and colorful addition to any wall or room.
13. A Tote to Make Them Laugh
If you’re a reader, you’ll need something to carry around all those books! This bag will make them laugh (and draw compliments and comments everywhere they go!); other good choices would be this hilarious one or this more artistic option.
14. A Literature-Themed Cookbook
Inspired by some of literature’s loveliest food scenes, this cookbook gives recipes for everything from the clam chowder in Moby Dick to Paddington Bear’s beloved marmalade, all set alongside the quotes from the original book. Not only will each recipe stir feelings of nostalgia for your favorite passages and chapters, but the recipes are thoughtfully crafted and well-tested.
15. A Very Nice Dictionary
Any reader (and person for that matter) could do with a high-quality dictionary. Most tend to be rather utilitarian in looks, but an attractive one makes an excellent gift.
What's your go-to gift for the bookworm(s) in your life? Tell us in the comments below.
This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.