When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
From coffee table books and juicy novels to a Book of the Month subscription, here are the Insider Reviews team’s best books to give as gifts.
Amazon; Target; Crystal Cox/Gilbert Espinoza/
- Books (and book subscriptions) are some of the most crowd-pleasing gifts.
- While relatively inexpensive, book gifts can feel really thoughtful.
- Below, we’ve listed 26 of the best books you can give as gifts — from guidebooks to collectibles.
If following the “If they like X, then buy them Y” formula, there’s one universal gift you can’t really go wrong with: a book. You can find books for every interest and type of reader — from beautiful coffee table additions to in-depth explorations of hobbies.
While many of us are on a budget (or trying to find a gift for someone who usually buys whatever they want for themselves), books somehow never feel impersonal or insignificant. As relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain as they are, they can be some of the most meaningful gifts we receive — especially if we really know the giftee’s interests and literary taste. As you’ll find below, many of us still remember the first time we read a particular story — or who was responsible for gifting us with a new fictional world or a fresh perspective.
Below, you’ll find 26 of the best books you can gift, plus a great book subscription service, according to members of Insider’s Reviews team.
26 great book gifts to give in 2022:
“Red, White and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.97
I gift books all the time, but the one book I’ve made sure to give to as many friends as possible is Casey McQuiston’s debut romance. I actually own three copies myself because I keep loaning it out. This queer romance between the first son of the United States and the Prince of England is laugh-out-loud funny while also dealing with some serious topics in a way that doesn’t feel too forced. The story has stuck with me since I first read it, which is why I’ll never stop buying this book for friends who are new to reading romance, looking for something different, or just want a book to make them laugh. So far, it’s been a hit with everyone I’ve given it to. — Angela Tricarico, streaming editorial fellow
“100 Selected Poems” by e.e. cummings
Available at Amazon, $12.16
This Cummings collection holds the poems that made me love poetry. I’ll never forget reading the line “nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands” for the first time. The circular language and unusual syntax make e.e. cummings an intimidating poet, but when you stop trying to break the poems down, the meaning floats through. That’s why I love gifting this collection – not only are the lines legendary, but it’s an exercise in letting yourself just enjoy something beautiful. — Lily Alig, reporter
“White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.16
The term “white fragility” refers to the destructive reaction white people often have when confronted with their racial biases. Rather than listening to individuals who are trying to teach them how their actions are affecting members of marginalized groups, a fragile white person will immediately get defensive. This is definitely something I’ve recognized in my behavior and continue to work to fix. It’s a process. “White Fragility” addresses this. It teaches white folks that the world will be a better place if we learn how our conscious and unconscious biases are hurting BIPOC. Instead of getting defensive, we need to understand that we are going to screw up. If we learn from our mistakes and are thankful for those who point them out, we can make progress in addressing the systemic racism in this country. So, who do I give “White Fragility” to? I’ve gifted it to friends and family who have just started to recognize their racist tendencies and are looking to do better. — James Brains, reporter
“The Art of Gathering” by Priya Parker
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.94
I haven’t gifted this one to anyone yet, but it would definitely be my top pick. It teaches you practical tips for having more meaningful gatherings and conversations with people, starting from who you invite and what your setup looks like. It’s the kind of book that really pushes you to connect with others and demystifies the whole process. It’s one of the few self-help books where I was genuinely surprised by every tip as it countered what I always knew about hosting people or making plans. — Julia Pugachevsky, hobbies, books, and gifts editor
“Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland” by Patrick Radden Keefe
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.76
I buy this book for everyone. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime creation: a rigorous, incisive investigative journalist trains his focus on a major historical event that almost no one fully understands — The Troubles. Radden Keefe weaves a propulsive, can’t-put-it-down tale that you’d normally only find in fiction — driven by the sort of improbably rich characters that come from mountains of research. Radden Keefe is as detailed in his storytelling as he is humane, and the murky 30-year war-that-wasn’t-a-war comes to life around you. Beyond nailing down what happened, why, and how, Radden Keefe also investigates the intangible — the very nature of memory in a society that prides itself on keeping its mouth shut and believes in noble failure. It’s a big book, but it’s unmissable for fans of history, thrillers, or Ireland. Buy it for friends, parents, grandparents, in-laws, etc. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
“Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel
Available at Amazon, $10.98
Or buy the whole trilogy at Amazon, $33.99
The key to gifting books is to know your audience: What do they like to read? For my history buff friends, I always recommend “Wolf Hall” and the other two books in Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about Thomas Cromwell during the reign of Henry VIII (assuming they have not read them yet). Both “Wolf Hall” and “Bringing Up the Bodies” won the Booker Prize, and the third volume in the trilogy, “The Mirror and the Light,” was nominated. Awards aren’t everything, but these books truly shine with unique storytelling, shifting perspectives, and prose that makes you feel like you’re inside Cromwell’s head. — Malarie Gokey, deputy editor
“The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.71
My sister almost always gifts me books and, because she’s a voracious reader, they’re typically the best ones I read all year. Sort of like a personalized Book of the Month.
The titles I’ve enjoyed most include “Pachinko”, “A Little Life”, and, my all-time favorite, “The Year of Magical Thinking.” It’s written in the aftermath of Didion unexpectedly losing her partner of 40 years, John Dunne, and is an unusually secular look at grief. It may not seem like the kind of thing you’d gift, but, here it is — maybe the best thing I’ve ever received. Didion, as always, is surgically honest and explorative. This book was intimate, original, and unforgettable — it made me feel grateful for my relationships long after I put it down. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking” by Samin Nosrat
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.65
This book is more than just a cookbook. It’s a textbook I’d recommend any home chef read cover to cover. It dives deep into the basic elements that make food taste good and is full of practical, easy-to-understand tips that have stuck with me for years. One of my favorite things about the book, aside from its prose, is its delightful illustrations that make each page so pleasant to read. It’s the perfect gift — especially for someone who may be a bit burnt out by quarantine cooking. — Emily Cohn, deputy editor in chief
“I Will Teach You to be Rich” by Ramit Sethi
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.87
I’m often asked to recommend a personal finance book, and pretty much without fail I go straight to “I Will Teach You to Be Rich.” Ideal for new grads and younger folks who need a game plan for adulthood, it’s also a straightforward, accessible, no-nonsense checklist for anyone who wants to take more control of their money and their life, no matter where they’re starting. I regularly give away my copy, then buy another just in case I need to give it to someone else! — Libby Kane, executive editor, personal finance
‘Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar’ by Cheryl Strayed
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13
This title — which a friend first sent to me because she loved it so much — is a great gift for a wide variety of people. It’s a compilation of Strayed’s “Dear Sugar” advice columns, which works well for people who traditionally find books too long to commit to. The topics are varied, so there’s something for everyone, but Cheryl Strayed writes with the kind of generosity, compassion, and wit that’s absent in much of today’s instant communication. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
“What Kind of Woman” by Kate Baer
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.04
Like many of us, I discovered poet Kate Baer through Instagram, where she captures moments in words and turns nasty messages from outspoken critics into introspective poems. I bought her debut book, “What Kind of Woman” as a gift for myself this year, and it’s fabulous: thought-provoking, honest, and funny. Her work is just as welcoming to people who “don’t like poetry,” and since it was only just released this year, it’s unlikely your recipient already has it. — Libby Kane, executive editor, personal finance
“I Can Make You Feel Good” by Tyler Mitchell
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $32.41
Tyler Mitchell is one of photography’s most notable contemporary stars. In his first book, “I Can Make You Feel Good” (2020), Mitchell depicts what he imagines a Black utopia could look like. As Mitchell wrote on Instagram in August, “I often think about what white fun looks like and this notion that Black people can’t have the same… I feel an urgency to create a body of images where Black people are visualized as free, expressive, effortless, and sensitive.”
Mitchell’s work reminds me of the quote often attributed to Albert Camus, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” In response to the constant politicization of Black bodies, Mitchell creates a space where Black people are able to move more freely and be seen through a loving lens. His images are intimate, optimistic, and gentle. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
For more coffee table books, you can find 27 of our coffee table recommendations here.
“Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close” by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.49
This memoir of two BFFs going to therapy to mend their eventual long-distance friendship is a perfect gift for any of your close friends. Aminatou and Ann meet post-college and bond almost immediately, but when they deal with an accumulation of misunderstandings fueled by living far apart, they have a choice to work out their issues or move their separate ways. It’s a great ode to platonic female friendship (which is sometimes treated as less important than a romantic partnership), and an honest portrayal of the work it takes to stay in each other’s lives in the long term. — Julia Pugachevsky, hobbies, books, and gifts editor
“The Eight” by Katherine Neville
Available at Amazon, $7.99
Know someone who’s super into chess after finishing “The Queen’s Gambit”? “The Eight” is a fun romp spanning centuries and continents. First published in 1988, the novel moves between the French Revolution and the 1970s. Cat Velis is a computer expert who gets caught up in a quest while on assignment in Algiers. There are nuns on the run, an appearance by Napoleon, a mysterious chess set that supposedly belonged to Charlemagne, and a female chess master. — Jenny McGrath, contract guides editor
“The Immortalists” by Chloe Benjamin
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.94
For fiction lovers, this is one of my favorite books to gift and recommend. Here’s the setup: A traveling psychic arrives in New York and tells four children their fortunes, including when each will die. The rest of the book explores how that fateful day informs each of their lives. Yes, it’s a little weird, but it’s also incredibly beautiful, moving, insightful, captivating, and like nothing else I’ve ever read. My favorite part of gifting this is that every friend who has read it immediately calls or texts me to discuss it when they finish, which has led to some fun and thoughtful discussions with friends and family. — Hannah Freedman, associate travel editor
“Wow, No Thank You.” by Samantha Irby
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $10.28
I’d venture to say that any Samantha Irby essay collection is hilarious and perfect, but if your gift recipient has read them all already, this most recent iteration is bound to please. Some highlights from this delightful assortment include a detailed breakdown of Irby’s workday (“Breakfast was over four hours ago, so I start with lunch”) and the awkwardness of making new friends as an adult. If you’re the one introducing someone to Irby’s work for the first time, this gift is even better! (And I’m personally very jealous they’ll get to experience this writing for the first time.) — Julia Pugachevsky, hobbies, books, and gifts editor
“Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver” By Mary Oliver
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.89
One of my favorite gifts to give is a book I’ve loved (and believe the recipient will also love just as much). To me, it shows that you pay attention to someone’s taste, and it creates the opportunity for a shared experience without needing to be in the same place.
I’ve given this book to a few people, as well as this slimmer compilation. Mary Oliver may have won a Pulitzer for poetry, but her poems aren’t stuffy or complicated — even people I know who don’t like poetry have loved them. Oliver just loves life, and her poems feel peaceful and joyful — two things I want more of in my friends’ and family’s lives. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
“A Kids Book About …” by Ross Szabo
A Kids Book About
Available at Amazon and A Kids Book About, from $19.95
I first spotted these books on Oprah’s list of favorite things for 2020. Then I spent over an hour on the website trying to narrow down my order to just four books for the kiddos in my life. There’s a book for every complex, tricky, or topical issue you can think of. Each one breaks down the featured concept in a way that’s meant to spark curiosity and conversation between grown-ups and children. Examples include money, belonging, bullying, systemic racism, feminism, body image, divorce, adventure, and anxiety. They’re beautifully designed and wonderfully written by an incredibly diverse group of writers whose voices and personal stories are weaved throughout. — Tanza Loudenback, correspondent, personal finance
“In the Woods” by Tana French
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.38
Although I have not yet actually sent this book as a gift yet, I’m going to soon (don’t tell anyone!). Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books are my favorite mystery novels hands down, which is saying a lot because I deeply love mysteries and read a lot of them. French’s writing is just beautiful, the suspense is riveting, and the way she looks inside of her characters’ souls to spill their most deeply buried thoughts makes every book feel personal. The book follows two detectives as they investigate a murder in the woods by a Dublin suburb. It just so happens that the lead investigator was involved in an unsolved mystery in those exact same woods, but he remembers nothing about what happened or where his two missing friends are. The two mysteries intertwine, as memories the detective sought to repress come back. — Malarie Gokey, deputy editor
“Ella Enchanted” by Gail Carson Levine
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $7.99
My grandma gave me this book when I was eight years old, and it remains one of the best book gifts I’ve ever received. I’ve read it at least a dozen times, and I still read it now as an adult. It’s the retelling of Cinderella with many magical twists, including a fairy who cursed the heroine Ella with the “gift” of obedience as a child, so she has to follow every command given to her. As she grows up, Ella tries to fight the curse and eventually break it for the sake of true love and the wellbeing of the kingdom she loves. — Malarie Gokey, deputy editor
“The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by Daniel James Brown
Available at Bookshop, $16.74
“The Boys in the Boat” is one of my favorite books to gift, because it has something for everyone (especially those people who are nearly impossible to buy for): history, sports, personal drama, redemption … and since it’s nonfiction, it’s a great conversation starter as you descend down the rabbit hole of internet research (Did that actually happen? Is it on film? Are there pictures?). It’s a great read, and a crowd-pleaser, too. — Libby Kane, executive editor, personal finance
“Bringing Down the Duke” by Evie Dunmore
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.60
I actually got this book through a Book of the Month subscription I was testing out, and I loved it so much I gifted a copy to a friend of mine who confessed that she, too, loves escapist romance reads. “Bringing Down the Duke” is actually the first in a series as well (the second book is just as good as this one, and I cannot wait for the third). It’s a fun, historical romance novel that sizzles, but also has a lot of heart. My friend loved this book just as much as I did, and I think most historical romance fans will, too. — Malarie Gokey, deputy editor
“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.89
If you have someone in your life who’s always complained about feeling too shy or reserved, this book can validate a lot of their feelings. Cain, a fellow introvert herself, explores the parts of American culture that overemphasize the importance of extroversion and loudness when it comes to professional and social success. But she also shows how working independently, exercising caution, and listening to other people are underrated strengths — ones you can channel to make yourself stick out. For the friend, partner, or sibling who kinda hates big meetings, brainstorms, and parties, give them this book to curl up in a quiet corner with.” — Julia Pugachevsky, hobbies, books, and gifts editor
“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.07
One of my friends gave me this Pulitzer Prize-winning book last Christmas, and I couldn’t put it down. In the book, the Underground Railroad is a real railroad with trains and conductors that runs underground throughout the southern United States during the Antebellum Era. The story follows Cora as she escapes from the brutality of slavery in search of freedom. The story is at times heart-rending, terrifying, and exhilarating. It’s also a powerful accounting of American history and one of its cruelest legacies. — Malarie Gokey, deputy editor
“The Wedding Date” by. Jasmine Guillory
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $6.98
Full disclosure: Author Jasmine Guillory is a fellow alum of my alma mater, and when she released “The Wedding Date,” my friends and I all raced to buy it, then texted each other as we made our way through. If you know someone looking for a “beach read,” or just a fun, sweet romance that will transport them from their couch when the beach isn’t realistic, I’ve got the book for you. “The Wedding Date” will make you smile — and then go look up the following books in the series. — Libby Kane, executive editor, personal finance
Book of the Month (three-month subscription)
Book of the Month
Available at Book of the Month, from $49.99
If you’d rather give them the joy of reading great books without the pressure of deciding what those books will be for them, we can’t recommend Book of the Month enough.
Every month, the bookworm in your life can choose a hardcover from five new titles and settle into a story that often goes on to gain national attention or win major literary awards; This is the same book club that selected “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway in its first year and “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell in 1936 — before its mass recognition. More recently, we’ve credited it with turning us onto books like the page-turner “Circe.” — Mara Leighton, senior reporter