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Gift guide for book lovers will help you find the perfect present for the bibliophile in your life. A mix of price ranges will fit any budget.

the ultimate gift guide for book lovers with multiple book covers

Each year I get new books for Christmas from my husband’s family. Troy calls them nerd gifts, and I fully embrace that title. Troy and I have been married for 13 years, and about 12 years ago my Christmas books started to seem a bit worn when I unwrapped them. My mother-in-law eventually admitted to pre-reading all the books she gifts me. To me, books are meant to be shared and loved by others, and I adore the fact that all my gifts are now “pre-screened” by family. 🙂

All of these books are stories that I loved, couldn’t put down, or moved something in my heart that I didn’t know was there. If books are meant to be shared, I hope these titles also bring you joy. Consider these all “pre-read” by me.

  1. Lamb. This book is about the “real” story of Jesus Christ, as told by his best friend Biff. It is so ridiculous and silly and it made me almost pee my pants. My pastor loves this book too.
  2. At Home. This book makes dorks so very happy. It sounds lame, but it is fascinating. It’s the history of how every room in a house came to be. I know, boring right? NOPE. So good. If you enjoy this book, another wonderful story by the author is A Walk in the Woods.
  3. Crashed. This is the first book in the Junior Bender series that I love. Junior Bender is a thief in Los Angeles who somehow keeps getting mixed up in solving mysteries. The premise sounds a bit silly, but the stories are fascinating, and the writing is whip-smart.  LOVE this series in a way I haven’t loved books in a very long time. Others in this series: Little Elvises, The Fame Thief, and Herbie’s Game.
  4. A Fault In Our Stars. Oh dearie me, this book made me sob. I’m not a sobber in my daily life, but this book did me in. Troy found me in a puddle on the couch clutching this book and sobbing. He dared to ask the stupid question “why don’t you just stop reading it”? Because I literally couldn’t stop. Not if my life depended on it. This book could not be ignored. And then I found out it was a YA book after I finished it, and all the sudden my angst made so much sense.
  5. The Power of One. A story about a little boy who is pretty much tortured at boarding school in South Africa. It sucks to read the first part. You want to slap everyone this child comes in to contact with. Then he takes a train trip to his new home which changes his life.  Eventually, good things happen, and you root your ass off (it’s a thing) for this kid.  A bit more tragedy, an amazing friendship, some more tragedy, happy times, sad times, clean ending. I loved this story so much, that I named one of my chickens after a character, Grandpa Chook.
  6. What Alice Forgot. If you’re married or have been together with anyone for a period of time, chances are you take them for granted (and if you don’t, you’re a damned liar). This is the book that you need to read to remind yourself why you’re still with this person.The book is funny, sweet, sad, and pretty thought-provoking.
  7. Fall of Giants. I wanted to cry when this book was over. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Ken Follet ever since I read (8) Pillars of the Earth when I was pregnant. I had horrible pregnancy insomnia, and Pillars of the Earth came into my life when I desperately needed it.Fall of Giants tells about the ramp up to World War One from the perspective of English gentry, English non-gentry, Americans, Germans, and Russians. I absolutely loved it. Book one of the Century Trilogy.9. Winter of the World. Didn’t get enough of global conflict and world war in Fall of Giants?  You’re in luck, cause World War II is covered in this book!  I can’t get enough of this series. Book two of the Century Trilogy.10. Edge of Eternity. The final book of the Century Trilogy. This installment covers the civil rights era, Vietnam, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and some of the modern day (through 2008). It wasn’t my favorite of the three, but the writing was excellent and the story was interesting.11. Boys in the Boat. This story made me stand up and cheer. A fascinating book that looks at the University of Washington’s male rowing team and their epic quest for the gold medal in the 1936 Olympics. And it’s a local book, which makes it even better!


Check out my other gift guides on gifts for The Home Cook and gifts Made in the U.S.

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  1. Why am I not surprised that I have read, and loved, most if the books on your list? It’s not Christmas without a book to dive into.
    I worked in a bookstore in my early twenties and The Power of One was the book I recommended to everyone; I think it has universal appeal.

    1. It’s such a good one Patricia! It is one of those books that can change lives.

      My MIL used to give me books for Christmas and always read them before wrapping them. We used to joke that she pre-reviewed them.

  2. So while you and your other commenters are on the whole Norwegian thing, I will chime in: being 1/4 Norwegian (and 1/4 Danish), I really can’t relate to the L-fish thing (I gave up trying to find a photo of that mug so I knew how to spell it), I still shudder at the look/thought of pickled herring, and some sort of fish in sour cream my mother used to eat. It was a family joke that my mother (who is, let’s say, a very *basic* cook) served my Italian father wide egg noodles with ketchup on it as “spaghetti.” (It may have been the first time he ever said WTF.) Flash forward to me showing my adult daughter how to make sauce (“gravy” to many Italians) because it wasn’t in the cookbook I made for them (since sauce is one of the few things my hands make on auto-pilot): I am getting ready to put in the garlic and I tell her not to say anything about the garlic. She is very quiet while I basically shovel in the garlic. A few minutes later she says, “So, really, you use *that much garlic*?” To which I replied, “Do you say to me, ‘Mom, that’s great garlic with sauce’?” (“So shut up and learn how much garlic,” is implied.) Anyway, waaaaay off subject here.

    Back to books. For about seven years I worked at a library. To say I like books is a bit of an understatement. When my kids were young, the limit for children’s books was 50 books at a time. We went once a week and took out 50 books. They read, I read, husband read; conjugate it and you’ll get the idea. That’s at least 2600 children’s books in a year. The Boys in the Boat was a book I recommended a lot. I was surprised at how interesting it was, given the subject. It is sometimes hard to convince people that a book about rowing will be a good read. I was happy to see that it became the community book of the year (they encourage everyone to read one specific book per year). Also enjoyed The Power of One (along with his other books) and many things by Bill Bryson are good. He is an American who lived in England for many years (he was even Chancellor of Durham University for a while) and has an interesting way of looking at things. Since I have one “child” living in the UK, I found his point of view appealing and revealing. The Fault in Our Stars was a bit of a weep fest (I lost my sister), but can be cathartic, if you need that sort of thing. Anyway, overall, a really great list of recommendations! Thanks for the list!

    1. My friend who is also Norwegian thinks that Lutefisk will die out during our generation because we all refuse to eat it. Thankfully, the Norwegian side of my family never once served it at any meals.

      Glad your daughter learned the lesson that there is no such thing as too much garlic! How much do you add to your sauce/gravy?

  3. This list is so good!

    I second “The Fault in Our Stars.” A similar book is “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes. I cried so much at the end.

    Re: “The Boys In The Boat,” I was reading the end/epilogue and the main “character” worked at my company! I didn’t recognize the name but told a supervisor. His reply? “Oh yeah, that’s Jamie’s grandfather.” So there you have it, I met that guy’s family and had no idea until I read the book.

    “The Power of One”…such a great story. It was so engrossing. We read it for book club over the summer. It’s also a movie but I haven’t seen it. I got the ebook from the library for book club. I finished the book, join the discussion, and discovered I had read the Young Adult’s abridged version of the book, not the full book. The story ended about halfway through (just as he finished boarding school and he says bye to Doc, etc when he goes away for the next school). Of course I had to buy the book and read the rest of it ASAP. The abridged version still had plenty of violence but much less than the regular version.

    A recommendation: “Norwegian by Night” by Derek B. Miller. The ending was a bit rushed, but during book club I tweeted the author (showing my age here huh?) and he responded that another book is coming in the spring.

    1. How cool that you have a personal connection to Boys in the Boat. What a great story and such amazing young men.

      Thanks for the Norwegian by Night recommendation; I’ll check it out. I’m Norwegian, so of course, it interests me.

  4. I was so glad to see the Power of One on your list. When I worked in a book store about 20 years ago it was the book I always recommended to people looking for a gift! The story line appeals to such a wide variety of audiences. I’ve read quite a few on your lust, but there are some that I will have to check out.
    If you’re looking for an awesome read, try thr Ava Lee Series by Canadian author Ian Hamilton. I am not sure how you would classify them…they are a bit of a thriller/mystery, a travel book, a cultural exploration book…always fun and fascinating with great character development. The protagonist is a first generation Chinese – Canadian lesibian forensic accountant, martial arts expert.

    1. Working in a bookstore or a library is kind of my dream job. What a cool gig!

      Canadian lesbian forensic accountant and martial arts expert? I must read this series!