Holiday Book Gift Guide

Dec 4, 2019

Like many book lovers, I buy books as gifts and I’m always looking for book recommendations and book gift guides. When I have to buy a gift for someone that doesn’t read, I’m genuinely stumped. Then I go buy myself a book or two to fortify myself for non-book shopping. 🙂

In the spirit of “we can never have, or give, enough books,” here are my suggestions for gift-giving (to friends or yourself!) this year.

Note: not all titles are new or published this year.


Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

Perfect for the hip person on your list who loved Marcel the Shell.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

The audiobook is a must-listen; his writing and his story are so incredibly moving and funny.

On Being Human by Jennifer Pastiloff

The perfect book for the person who is struggling to do what is calling to her.

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

For anyone who wonders where they come from.


The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan

This book would bore someone with a great grasp of world history, but for those of us who have forgotten ¾ of what we learned in school, never learned some of this stuff, or only learned through a decidedly Western lens, The Silk Roads is “a dazzling exploration of the forces that have driven the rise and fall of empires, determined the flow of ideas and goods and are now heralding a new dawn in international affairs.”


Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

While this book is about the Christian faith, you need not be a Christian to adore this journey of faith, marriage, and friendship. One of the best novels I have read in years. Profoundly moving.


The Secrets We Keep by Lara Preston is based on the true story of when the newly formed CIA infiltrated Soviet Russia by first smuggling out, and then back in, Doctor Zhivago.

The Witches are Coming by Lindy West

Hysterical, brilliant, and incisive. Love her!


Eff This Meditation by Liz Kindred

Truthful, loving, and grounded. This is exactly the kind of book that we need to practice healthy self-care that has nothing to do with buying stardust mushroom moon powder.

The Life Organizer

My well-loved approach to listening more deeply to what you want, week by week.


The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman is the real deal. This book, and her website, is the one I send my clients and students to the most. If you have a serious writer on your list who wants to make a living, this is the book to buy.

The Busy Woman’s Guide to Writing a World-Changing Book by Cynthia Morris

Straight-forward guidance for getting started and sticking with it for the woman who has the ideas, but lacks the time or focus.

An Audience of One by Srinivas Rao

If hype and needing to “be somebody” stops someone you love from creating, buy them Srinivas’s refreshing book. He credits me with helping him learn to write longer pieces because of one comment I made on his podcast.


The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Dark, yes, but not depressing or horrific at all. Excellent world-building, suspense, and good character development. Enjoyed immensely.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow

It took me a few days to get into it, but then I was truly astounded by her originality and the tenderness of the love story.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

An excellent choice for the reader on your list who loves fairy tales, a strong female protagonist, wilderness settings, and a good bit of fantasy. YA.


The Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Wendig writes my favorite writing blog. and if there is such a thing as a hopeful dystopian novel, this would be it.


The Overstory by Richard Powers

One of the best books I have ever read. If respect and connection for other species and the earth is one way we will stop the insanity of what we are doing to the planet, this book might help.

Climate Change: A Very Short Introduction by Mark Maslin

A great readable primer. My favorite part is why doing anything about climate change is so controversial.

Radical Dharma by Rev. Angel Kyodo William

For the Buddhist in your life. Balanced and beautiful.


Am I Overthinking This? by Michelle Rial

Whimsical, funny, hopeful, yet substantial, book of art, charts, and hope for the person in your life who can’t help but agonize over everything.


Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

Worth reading just for the new introduction.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

He wrote this amazing book for people who are struggling with serious depression or anxiety, but everybody who looks the world troubles in the face might find it helpful. You might also love his novel Humans.

Of course, this is just a partial list of all the great books you could gift this year, so have fun and trust that whatever you give will be great.

Even though I offer Amazon links for reference for those of you who don’t live near a bookstore, if you can buy locally at your independent bookstore, please, please do! They will often ship the book for you, so print out this post, bring your list of out of town addresses, write a note to slip inside, and bam! Shopping done!

To readers everywhere, happy holidays!

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