This list of small books to gift is sponsored by The Book of Delights by Ross Gay, available this season from Algonquin Books.
Here is the perfect book for this time of year—The Book of Delights. Ross Gay, one of today’s most dynamic literary voices, spent a year writing daily essays about things that delighted him. With enthusiasm and thoughtfulness, he finds wonder in the mundane, celebrates beauty in the natural world, and confronts the complexities of his life as a black man in America. The Book of Delights is the gift to give everyone you know—a powerful reminder that we can, and should, stake out a space in our lives for delight.
Sometimes giving a book can feel like you’re assigning homework to a loved one. Maybe you don’t expect them to read the book, at least not right away, but you might end up just a little sad when months go by and they haven’t cracked the spine. Maybe you want to share your favorite doorstopper book of the last year with them, but they may not be quite as enthusiastic as you want them to be.
That’s where these lovely little gift books come in. They’re perfect for stocking stuffers or sticking in a gift bag with a candle. These are the kind of books that you can give to a friend without them feeling like an imposition. They can be every bit as thoughtful and personal as your beloved epic, but they’re not going to stress anyone out. They’re quick to read and nice to look at. If giving a book as a gift is something like giving a treasure chest (you know, a plain wooden box with untold riches inside) then giving a small, beautiful book like these is like giving a jewel box.
Beloved book blogger Anne Bogel collected charming and relatable reflections on the reading life. It includes short essays like “Book Bossy” and “Confess Your Literary Sins” this little book is perfect for booklovers.
This gorgeously illustrated, full-color book includes on spread for each year of a person’s life. In each year, there is a new and wonderful lesson learned. (Age 8: You grow braver with every step. Age 33: You’d better learn to get by without much sleep. Drag me, pretty book.) The colors are so rich you want to swim in them. This is the sort of book that’s a perfect gift for milestones: graduation, becoming a parent, moving out.
This is a deeply personal reflection by a Pulitzer-prize winning author on the art of the book jacket. She relates book jackets to human clothing and the way that we present ourselves to the world. It’s a short essay about what book design is and what it means, and it’s perfect for your friend who loves books as objects.
I bought this book for myself for my birthday based on the cover and title alone.The limited color palette and those hands felt like they bewitched me. I just love to look at it. Based on the description, I was expecting a graphic non-fiction work that delves into the purpose of art, but instead found that it’s a story, a graphic novel, about a group of artists who learn to create in order to save themselves from the world.
I am not a poetry person, but I try to be. I try to work my way into being a poetry person every few years or so, and this collection is the door I’m trying right now. This book is like having your very understanding friend lead you along, trying to show you the perfect poem for how you’re feeling at any moment, and she’s really good at it. This is one of the books on my bedside table right now.
Two of the most charming men on Twitter (or just most charming men period?) decided to work together to bring Lin-Manuel Miranda morning greetings and good night sign-offs to the rest of the world. Jonny Sun lovingly illustrates Miranda’s quotes in this lovely little volume of pep-talks. Perfect for Hamilton fans or anyone who needs a little cheering up.
In the introductory letter, Maya Angelou says “I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters.” This collection of short essays is written to her daughters everywhere and is part guidebook, part memoir, part poetry.
Best-selling artist and author Ruth Chou Simmons brings together 850 pieces of original art in this book of encouraging affirmations that help you to refocus your life so you can become what you were meant to be. Each illustration includes flowers and birds and other elements from the natural world, and Simmons includes a glossary to tell the reader what each element means: poppies are for remembrance, koi are for productivity, sweet peas are for tenacity, and more.
Oxford Fellow and children’s book author Katherine Rundell writes a persuasive essay to explain why adults should of course still read children’s books. She says that children’s books can ignite the imagination, awaken old hungers, and create new perspectives. Perfect for that curmudgeon who sniffs at you re-reading Harry Potter, teachers, new parents, and anyone who loves a perfect title, because isn’t it a perfect title?
This little book is the essential toolkit for the working woman. Otegha Uwagba, one of Forbes European 30 under 30, guides women on how to negotiate a pay raise, how to thrive as a freelancer, and even gives tips on public speaking. Perfect for a young woman entering the working world or any woman considering a job change or upgrade.
Looking for more tiny books? Here’s Miniature Books for Tiny Libraries.
Want beautiful books to give as gifts? Try The Best New Books in the Folio Society Collection.
Need a short book you can read in one-sitting? Check out 50 Must-Read Books Under 250 Pages.