Book Fetish

Absolutely Extra Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

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Leah Rachel von Essen

Senior Contributor

By day, Leah Rachel von Essen is the editor-in-chief of Chicago Booth Magazine at the University of Chicago. By night, she reviews genre-bending fiction for Booklist, and writes regularly as a senior contributor at Book Riot. Her blog While Reading and Walking has over 10,000 dedicated followers over several social media outlets, including Instagram. She writes passionately about books in translation, chronic illness and bias in healthcare, queer books, twisty SFF, and magical realism and folklore. She was one of a select few bookstagrammers named to NewCity’s Chicago Lit50 in 2022. She is an avid traveler, a passionate fan of women’s basketball and soccer, and a lifelong learner. Twitter: @reading_while

Does your favorite bookworm have everything? I know it can be difficult to figure out what to get us. Books seem obvious, but you have to worry about getting something we’ve already read — or worse, decided we’re not interested in. You don’t know any of the book world discourse, and as hard as you try, you might not know all of their favorite authors, even if you are Goodreads friends.

But you still want to give them something memorable for the holidays. You’d like to honor their bookworm ways and maybe even manage to wow them. Here are seven gift ideas for book lovers that are sure to surprise and sweep them off their feet, no matter how many books they already have on their shelves!

A Custom Book Ornament Celebrating Their Year

An ornament full of small books

Imagine giving them a beautiful ornament full of adorable mini books — but not just any books. Their favorite books read in 2023 — or maybe even all the books they’ve read in 2023! Or maybe all their favorites, period! (This seller will include up to 75 books, so go wild!) Head over to Etsy, and you can get something your favorite book lover will treasure, both as a gift from you and a memento from 2023.

(This doubles as an epic gift for your book club — picture your year of selections in this small ornament, celebrating your year together.)

An Annotated Copy of One of Your Favorites

One of my most memorable gifts ever was a surprise in the mail: my grandfather sent me his three favorite books. Through reading them, I learned about him and saw him in what I read. And when I saw him next, we were able to talk about the books, discuss the progressive attitudes of Anna Karenina or what he learned about photography and sociology from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Replicate that feeling by giving someone you love one of your favorite books for them to read — but with your annotations! They’ll get to read with you, react with you, laugh at your exclamations, and follow any little clues or doodles you leave them along the way. They’ll get to learn more about you and your reason for loving a favorite!

A Supermarket-Sweep Style Spree

Bookstagrammer “armyofwords” was blown away when her friends sent her on a magical bookstore shopping spree. It had rules — only paperbacks, only books she can hold in her own two hands — and fun bonuses: one bonus book for every book found that’s been turned into a movie, one book deducted if she grabs something she already owns, and an additional 2 minutes of shopping time if she finds a book set in a place she’s lived.

It’s not just the giant stack of books that makes this special — it’s the thought that went into the rules, the absolute rush of feeling like a kid let loose in a candy store, and the pure joy of the time spent grabbing books. Feel free to implement your own version with its own rules to fit your budget!

A Special Edition of One of Their Favorites

This isn’t always budget-friendly, but with some work, it can be. One of my friend’s biggest wishes for years was the first, earliest English edition of Haruki Murakami’s Pinball, 1973. It was too expensive for my budget, but I set alerts for it on AbeBooks and eBay, just in case, and one Christmas, I got an alert that someone had put one up for just $60 — for an edition going for hundreds.

I bought it immediately (checking that I had some kind of purchase protection), and it arrived in perfect, gorgeous condition. It was a huge surprise for my friend and affordable because the hard part had been the hunt rather than the purchase.

older edition of Pet Sematary by Stephen King

For example, this Stephen King first edition can be yours for $77!

Is there a pretty, signed edition, or just a beautiful new paperback that they’d love but can’t justify buying for themselves? Is there a UK edition or a book box special version? Go hunt it down for them!

(For example: you can find the UK edition of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern or a limited illustrated edition of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab!)

Beautiful edition of the Complete Grimm Fairytales

Or, you can purchase this gorgeous edition of The Complete Grimm’s Fairytales for just $47!

Get Them Something Custom-Made

Three books with painted edges in a stack.

Etsy has some incredible artists, like this one, who can paint the fore-edge of a book for you, creating a special edition of one of their favorites.

The ACOTAR book spines

They can also sell cloth or leader-bound editions of popular favorites! This set of the A Court of Thorns and Roses books by Sarah J. Maas goes for $80 a book or $320 for all five books.

A Page-Numbered Gift Pile

Picture this: they reach page 34, where two characters are sitting down for tea, and they open a package labeled “34.” Inside is a tin of looseleaf earl gray tea for them to brew as they read. They reach page 108 and open the bag with “108” on it, and there’s a beautiful pen that reminds them of the one the protagonist just used to sign a mysterious contract.

Give them a bunch of small gifts to complement their reading experience — a mini bookish scavenger hunt! — and watch them enjoy! Some suggestions for things to include:

Five candles, one is lit.

A bookish candle, like this one ($12) that comes in every scent from mulled cider to cozy cabin to fireplace.

A bag of tea and a pile of looseleaf tea beside a gray teapot.

Or a lovely tea, like this “peak relaxation” looseleaf made up of chamomile, lemon balm, lavender, rose petals, passion flowers, and peppermint ($10).

A Book Subscription Service — Made by You

One year, my partner said he would get me a book subscription service for the year, but he wanted to figure out which I wanted first. Then he let slip an idea he’d had: to do the service himself for graphic novels. I said yes, absolutely yes.

For each month that year, he would choose a graphic novel for my collection. In special cases — on Independent Bookstore Day, for example — he took me to a bookstore and had me choose that month’s selection for myself. It was personal, exciting, and fun. It spread the joy of the holiday out through 12 months of the year. He thought about me, thought about what I would like, read through lists of new releases, and I was able to read them throughout the year.

Adapt this yourself. Make up a theme, whether it’s YA romance, queer books, comics, or simply things you like, and send them a book each month! Give them a card in December explaining the plan. They’ll be thrilled!


Want more gift ideas for your favorite bookworm? Check out our 2023 holiday gift guides below, featuring lists of books, bookish stuff, stocking stuffers, and more to help you find the very best presents this holiday season.