Columns > Published on December 6th, 2013

Ten Unbeatable Holiday Gifts for Book Lovers

Sure, you could put on actual pants to go partake in some door-bustin’ shenanigans at the mall, but between jingling bells, decking halls, and consuming your body weight in holiday cookies, who has time for that? Not you, my friend. Not you. Know what else you don’t have time for? Sifting through page after page of Mega Lightning Cyber Xtreme Deals, hoping to stumble upon the perfect gift for your loved ones. No! That’s why we here at LitReactor have done the sifting for you and come up with ten amazing presents for your book-loving friends and fam. Think of it as our gift to you.


1. The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems

So full of words was Dickinson that her poetry flowed onto every scrap of paper within reach. This beautiful hardcover book contains full-color, front-and-back facsimiles of 52 of the poet’s later works, which were written on used envelopes and found, unbound, among her papers. The reproductions are actual size and reveal her every pencil stroke, line break, scratch-through, and correction. Editors Jen Bervin and Marta Werner provide fascinating annotation about the ways in which the shape and limits of the paper itself may have affected Dickinson’s work. The book is a work of art. If you gift this to a poetry lover and they don’t adore and cherish it, I’ll eat my spare envelopes.

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2. Frankie & Johnny Book Lover Cotton Pajamas

Look, I’m not going to tell you these jammies are super sexy, but I will say they look about as comfy as a mug of hot cocoa and a fireplace on a snowy December night, and that counts for a lot at this time of year. Made of 100% cotton and sporting both an elastic waistband and a button fly, these unisex PJs are decorated with books, reading glasses, and book-related phrases that scream, “I’m serious about coziness… and reading. I thoroughly enjoy reading.”

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3. The Sandman Omnibus

If someone on your list loves graphic novels or comics, you can almost* not go wrong with the new omnibus edition of Neil Gaiman’s revered Sandman series, which collects all 75 Sandman stories in two handsome 1040-page hardcover tomes with sewn binding and high-quality paper. (*The entire series has been gathered before in the five Absolute Sandman books, so you’ll want to make sure your giftee doesn’t already own those. The omnibus is a less expensive and more compact way to get the entire series, anyway.)

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4. Paper Passion Perfume

This season, give the bibliophile in your life the gift of smelling like an old book. Do this either by (a) pinning them down and aggressively rubbing aged tomes all over their naked body or (b) going the more socially acceptable route and buying them a bottle of Paper Passion. German publisher Gerhard Steidl and master perfumer Geza Schoen captured the essence of books in a unisex fragrance, so even when you’re using an eReader, you can still enjoy the sweet sweet scent of paper, ink, and glue.

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5. Postcards From Penguin or Puffin: One Hundred Book Covers in One Box

Bookworms and designers alike will dig these collections of book cover postcards. Choose from the Puffin box, which contains covers of 100 different children’s books (including Charlotte’s Web, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and The Wizard of Oz), or the Penguin set, which includes covers with bold vintage graphics, Penguin’s iconic three-stripe design, and familiar classics. Pro tip: The thick, high-quality card stock can be framed as well as mailed, so if you need a lot of gifts on a budget, buy one set and frame a few of each person’s favorite book covers—boom, instant wall art!

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6. Heirloom Collection Box Sets

These box sets are as fancy as monocles, infinity pools, and air kisses, which is to say very fancy indeed. Choose between the complete novels of Jane Austen, the complete Sherlock Holmes, the Enchanted Collection (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, Black Beauty, The Wind in the Willows, and Pretty Women), or the Adventure Collection (Treasure Island, The Jungle Book, Gulliver’s Travels, White Fang, and The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood). Each $60 set comes in a beautifully designed box adorned with literary quotes and a magnetic closure. The books themselves are hardcovers with ribbon bookmarks, four-color illustrations, and gorgeous cover art. Gift ’em up to your fanciest friend.

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7. The History of Oxford University Press: Three-Volume Set

You’re gonna want to be careful with this one because it will arrive on your beloved’s doorstep a couple weeks after Christmas, but it’s still worthy of inclusion on this list. Here’s why: Dozens of scholars the world over have been working tirelessly on this project since 2006, delving deep into dusty archives to uncover the history of one of the world’s oldest publishers, and the results are finally ours for the taking (or rather, the buying… the set is $350). More broadly, the three books (with a fourth available next year) consider how language, culture, education, reading, and technology have evolved within the realm of publishing since OUP began operating five centuries ago. The special book lover in your life could seriously spend a lot of time geeking out with this.

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8. Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities

Guillermo del Toro is a filmmaker, screenwriter, novelist, and creator of freaky monsters, but above all, he is a storyteller, and Cabinet of Curiosities gives readers a glimpse into his creative process—how he approaches narratives, designs characters, and gets inspiration. Now ask yourself, “Exactly how much does the recipient of this gift like del Toro?” or perhaps, “How much do I like the recipient of this gift?” Because it’s decision time: You could spend $30 on the 256-page hardcover, or you could go all in and drop $667 on the limited edition, which does not, despite its price, include a personal visit or severed finger from del Toro. It does, however, come with his signature, a two-drawer cabinet with a secret compartment (secret compartment!), four never-before-released art prints, three custom reproductions of props from his movies, and a certificate of authenticity. 

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9. Book Rest Lamp

Do you know what happens when you try to use an ordinary light to mark your spot in a book? Me neither, but I’m guessing a house fire or, at the very least, a broken lamp. That’s where Suck UK’s book rest lamp is different. The soft, warm glow shines through frosted glass to provide optimal reading conditions, and when you’re finished, just flip the book over to mark your place and create a charming little book house fit for a Smurf. Totes adorbs.

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10. John Green Limited Edition Box Set

If you are a person of the grown-up variety, you may not know who John Green is (this LitReactor column can help), but the tween readers in your world undoubtedly do. The award-winning, best-selling, critically acclaimed author somehow manages to write (and sell!) YA book after YA book without using a single vampire or werewolf. There aren’t even undead mermaids. It’s odd. This limited edition box set contains hardcover editions of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars—two of which are autographed by the author. It’s 1136 pages of YA gold.

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Have you found anything that should’ve been on this list? Let us know in the comments. Until then, happy shopping and even happier holidays.

Also, check out our previous gift lists: 2011, 2012, Gifts for Comic Fans, Gifts for Writers.

About the author

Kimberly Turner is an internet entrepreneur, DJ, editor, beekeeper, linguist, traveler, and writer. This either makes her exceptionally well-rounded or slightly crazy; it’s hard to say which. She spent a decade as a journalist and magazine editor in Australia and the U.S. and is now working (very, very slowly) on her first novel. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two cats, ten fish, and roughly 60,000 bees.

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