Last Minute Book Gift Ideas

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Sarah Nicolas

Staff Writer

Sarah Nicolas is a recovering mechanical engineer, library event planner, and author who lives in Orlando with a 60-lb mutt who thinks he’s a chihuahua. Sarah writes YA novels as Sarah Nicolas and romance under the name Aria Kane. When not writing, they can be found playing volleyball or drinking wine. Find them on Twitter @sarah_nicolas.

Look, I’m not saying I wait until the last minute to buy holiday presents, but life gets in the way sometimes. Plus, with the way shipping times are moving about, the definition of “last minute” is expanding. Something you could’ve had delivered to your recipient’s doorstep within 18 hours in 2019 may take a couple weeks now. If you find yourself looking at predicted delivery dates and the math doesn’t seem to be working out, here are some last-minute book gift ideas to give to the reader in your life. 

One of my favorite things to give people is subscriptions — and not just because I wait until the last minute. I love the idea of them receiving something fun every month for the next couple of months and thinking of me each time. I also grew up with a very crafty mother and grandmother, so I know what it’s like to be waiting for paint/glue to dry before you can wrap a gift.

Some of these gift ideas also work for sending gifts to people who live far away because some of them are delivered virtually and others can fit in a simple letter envelope and may arrive faster than a box of books.

Book Subscription Boxes

A subscription to a bookish subscription box seems like an obvious place to start here. If you don’t know your reader’s tastes very well, Book of the Month is a pretty safe bet because they get to choose from a variety of books each month. 

Book Riot’s own TBR service is a more personally curated option if you want to get them something truly personalized. Your reader will fill out a survey about their tastes and our bibliologists will create highly customized recommendations. You can choose a package that includes the list of recommendations along with a letter, or you can have the books actually sent to them.

The BlackLit Box sends one or more (fiction or nonfiction — your choice) books by an author of color, 3–5 products from Black-owned businesses, and writing prompts each month.

There are a lot of book subscription boxes that are targeted at readers of a certain genre, as well. If you have a mystery or romance reader in your life, One More Page bookstore has a Book and Chocolate subscription box that pairs chocolate with a book each month. For the reader who prefers books on the darker side, My Thrill Club offers a Mystery, Thriller, or Horror subscription. For literary lovers who prefer their books signed, you can’t beat the Signed First Editions Book Club from the Book Passage bookstore. Literati features several book clubs curated by folks like Roxane Gay and Malala as well as curated children’s options.

Also, check out Awesome Subscription Book Boxes for Beverage Lovers. You can find a book subscription box for just about any niche, so definitely look around to find what’s a best fit for your gift recipient.


Frame of books on wall with text "Just One More Chapter"

If you haven’t got a lot of cash to spend, but have access to a printer, there are a ton of gorgeous printables available for just a few bucks on Etsy. If your book lover is the bullet journaling type, here’s a gorgeous printable reading journal. If they need something to decorate the walls that aren’t covered by bookshelves, try some printable wall art. Or you can find hundreds of designs for beautiful printable bookmarks.

Bookish Crafts

If you have that crafty gene, there are hundreds of cool bookish crafts you can make into a nice gift or stocking stuff for someone. If they’re using receipts as bookmarks (guilty!), you can make them a cute custom bookmark — and you may have most of the supplies already. If you have books destined for the recycling bin, here are 30 Easy to Advanced DIY Crafts with Old Books You Can Do

Coffee, Tea, or Snack Subscription Boxes

It’s not strictly bookish, but most readers I know love curling up in their favorite reading spot with a mug or indulgent snack. Buy them a subscription that will keep them stocked with treats. I’m partial to the Bean Box subscription for coffee. Tea Runners has several subscription options of beautiful loose-leaf teas. A monthly chocolate bonbon subscription will give them something to make their reading time special.

A Book

As long as we’re not talking about super last-minute, bookstores are still open those couple of days before Christmas and other holidays. And they’re usually not nearly as busy as Target or Harry & David. So if you have an indie bookstore near you, just go in and see if there’s a book your recipient might be interested in — or bookish paraphernalia. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with 27 of the Best Books to Give as Gifts in 2021.

Gift Card

My mother told me never to give a gift card as a gift, but as a minimalist who also happens to be very picky, they are honestly my favorite thing to receive because then I can get exactly what I want without paying for it. Plus, if it’s for a local store, you’re also gifting the absolute pleasure of browsing bookshelves. See if your local bookstore has gift cards or purchase one online somewhere like Bookshop.

Even if you’ve waited until the very last day, there are still plenty of great options for last minute book gifts to give the reader in your life.