10+ Books to Give as Gifts

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Books are my love language, sharing, discussing, gifting, I love to surround myself with books and to surround other people with books. But, honestly? Books aren’t always so easy to buy for others. What resonates with you might be a flop for them. And then people feel awkward when you pass along a beloved story and they don’t connect with it. For that reason, I’ve (mostly) stopped giving away novels as gifts unless I’m pretty certain of the recipient’s taste. On the other hand, books can make for a great “neutral” present. For a friend or coworker or cousin or white elephant. You can extend a certain amount of thoughtfulness, without too much risk on either side.

And so I present to you a list of books to give this holiday season, in no particular order…

Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss

More and more over the last year or so I’ve found myself turning to Tim Ferriss’s interviews with powerful and creative thinkers. Somewhat sheepishly I’ve been quoting him and his guests and telling people to go listen to his podcast or read his books. We may not “do life” in a very similar way, but I think Tim Ferriss is having some of the most interesting conversations out there, and his latest books are part of these. Last year I highly recommended his book Tools of Titans and this year I’ll be buying Tribe of Mentors for a few people.

The L.A. Cookbook: Recipes from the best restaurants, bakeries, and bars in Los Angeles

I love this cookbook. It looks pretty on a kitchen shelf and it really does have the recipes from some of the best restaurants in town. I’ve already gifted this one several times.

Psssttt…Here’s a list of some of my favorite LA Restaurants.

The League: How Five Rivals Created the NFL and Launched a Sports Empire by John Eisenberg

Confession: I haven’t actually read this one, but someone highly recommended it to me and I jotted it down as an option to give Jeff for Christmas. I’ve also bookmarked this new coffee table book about Kobe Bryant

A Big Important Art Book (Now With Women) by Danielle Krysa

Okay so maybe this one is on my personal wish list for Christmas. I’ve followed The Jealous Curator for years now, and really like what she does in highlighting women artists. 

Banksy. You Are An Acceptable Level of Threat and If You Were Not You Would Know About It. 

I bought this one for my husband for his birthday after we went to a street art show with an awesome Banksy piece we both admired. The photography in this book is great, and I like the black-on-black cover, it looks good on a coffee table or in a stack. (You could also pair this one with the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop.)

I’ll Be There For You by Kelsey Miller

If you lived through the must-see-tv Thursday nights when everyone watched Friends and then quoted it the next day (or, if you still watch it in perpetual reruns on cable), this is a fun little book to give. I picked it up for my college roommate because these characters and these plot lines have become part of the pop culture history, and I wanted to know more about that. 

I ended up reading it on the airplane and learned a lot about how Friends has shaped pop culture for decades.

Annie Liebovitz At Work 

Liebovitz is one of the greatest living photographers, and in these pages she’s describing her process as well as sharing some of her more famous photographs and subjects. 

Circe by Madeline Miller

This is the one and only novel on this list, and that’s because I think it will appeal to a broad number of readers across age, race, gender, and taste. I just finished this one, so I’m possibly a little biased, but I think this is such an excellent story based in Greek mythology. Circe is well told, but with simple prose and layered stories and metaphors. I just loved it, and think it would make for an especially lively book club discussion. 

Whiskey In A Teacup by Reese Witherspoon 

I’m a fangirl, I’ll freely admit it. But this book is pretty and fun and sure to please the exact type of person who loves romantic comedies and gets her nails down every two weeks like clockwork.

If your crowd is a little less likely to own A-line, pick up Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook Cravings: Hungry For More for the same amount of fun with a little different flavor.

So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeloma Oluo

Man, this is one of my favorite books of the year, period. I listened to it on audio, but plan to gift it to several people following the discussions we’ve had in the Smartest Person in the Room series on racial bias. This book is incredible, but would not be a good gift for someone resistant to conversations about inequality. This is the for the (white) person who wants to learn more, to know better, who is following this national thread with the intention of unity and understanding in our country. Also not for someone who needs to be coddled. This book is blunt. 

Loving What Is by Byron Katie

This book is gentle and forceful at the same time and I find myself thinking about it regularly even though I read it months ago. Byron Katie walks you through small exercises to help you turn around your thoughts and the stories you tell yourself that keep you in pain and inactive. I found her methods to be really helpful, similar to therapy (though nothing replaces therapy, of course) and if you’re open to change or seeing how your own patterns are contributing to your unhappiness, this is a wonderful book. It doesn’t take the harsh tone that is popular right now, it is full of love and wisdom. 

Eleanor Wyatt Princess and Pirate by Rachael Macfarlane

I interviewed my friend Rachael Macfarlane on an episode of Smartest Person in the Room a few weeks ago about her new children’s book Eleanor Wyatt Princess and Pirate. I love the message of neutrality in kid’s play, and this is a sweet book with a solid message. 

Dare To Lead by Brene Brown 

Brene Brown has cracked us all open with her talks on vulnerability and shame, and Dare to Lead has a lot of this same messaging but with a distinctly business-minded bent. A lot of the examples and role playing that she has in the book is geared towards bosses and team management. For that reason, I think this Brene Brown book in particular would be a good one for those who think self-help for business is silly, or for those who want to introduce to Brown’s work but without as many personal anecdotes. 

Am I There Yet? by Marie Andrew

I absolutely love following byMarieAndrew on Instagram, so I wanted to support her illustrations with her new book Am I There Yet? This would be a great gift for a graduate or college student, or anyone navigating a new world. (And aren’t we all?)

The Actor’s Life by Jenna Fischer

My friend Jenna has written exactly the book she wish she’d read as she was starting out in Hollywood. This book is full of stories and resources for anyone thinking about making acting their career (or even just a hobby). Highly recommended by people in the entertainment industry.

200 Women Who Will Change the Way You See the World

I actually spotted this one when I was Nashville, and it was too big to put in my carry on, but I made a note to buy it for myself (or as a gift!) later.

Hope this list helps you find something for that hard-to-buy-for person!