A Guide to Gifting: For the Literary Lover(s) in Your Life


I’m over here burning this Charles Dickens candle from one of the nifty bookstores I came across at a local bookstore in San Francisco, and I have a feeling that every literary lover in your life would love to have it. Except when they don’t, unless they’re a huge fan of any of these writers: Dickens, Tolstoy, Poe, Austen, Emerson, Steinbeck.

Not all bookworms are alike, and while you can find something nifty and literary-esque for that person in your family whose nose is always buried in books like this set of literary matchboxes from Portmanteau Paper Co. or this scarf which displays fifty titles of banned books that they would totally appreciate, gifting does require a little bit of thought and effort.

So how do you pick something for that person? Here are a few tips:


Goodreads is an online community of book lovers where you can create book lists, leave reviews, put up quotes and other activities. The chances of that person having a Goodreads account is pretty high, so be sure to see what kinds of books they’ve marked as “to-read,” or get a feel for what kinds of books they like on their “read” list. Remember: not all books are created equal, and not every reader likes every book. Pay attention to genre and form.


This is really important. Die-hard aficionados like myself prefer holding a real book and turning the pages, although one cannot deny the ease and convenience of e-readers (specially on your phones). Before purchasing that Kindle or Kobo, figure out how that person likes to read.


If you’re unsure of what books they prefer, get a gift card from the nearest local book seller in your area. You can’t go wrong with that. Plus, it’s a great way to support your local bookstores.


There are plenty to choose from, literary magazine subscriptions are a delight. There’s a lot to choose from too like Granta, The Paris Review, etc. A personal favorite: Lee Gutkind’s Creative Nonfiction.


And if you’re completely stumped and unsure on what to get that person, you can always make a donation to the local library on their behalf. It’ll go a long way and show your appreciation not just for that person but for the community as well.

Got some other tips? Leave them in the comments below!