Slightly Off-Kilter Gift Guides for Book Lovers

A book is the best "thinking outside the box" gift you'll ever give someone...
A book is the best “thinking outside the box” gift you’ll ever give someone…

Writers love to write (isn’t that profound?), but when time permits, writers especially love to read books. (We’ve been down this digital road before–real books, with ink printed on paper, and sometimes you need to wet your fingertip to turn a stubbornly stuck page…)

If only I could get paid to read books, I would be the happiest girl in the whole U.S.A. But since I live in the real world (most of the time), I’ll settle for giving and receiving a few choice books as gifts during the holiday season. How about you?

Finding the right book(s) could prove to be a daunting task for a blogger. But I knew I could depend on the (online) kindness of strangers (Stella!). So I searched high and low for intriguing lists and compilations. The following book-gift-giving guides can augment your Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa shopping list.

(Please note: It’s my pleasure to save you valuable online-sourcing time. But if you’d rather do your browsing in a brick- and-mortar bookstore, I understand. And if that’s your plan, before you abandon this blog post, please do one small thing–take me with you.)

Use Compass Book Ratings to Source the Ideal Books as Gifts: This nifty “book nook” proclaims a delightfully pragmatic tagline: “Movies have ratings…why not books?” Of course I’ll supply you with the site’s Home page, but the focus of this post is book-gifting, so let’s get to it.

Compass’s 2014 book recommendations are organized by Middle School (boys and girls), Young Adult (boys and girls), Adult Fiction, and Adult Non-Fiction.

My only regret regarding Compass Book Ratings is that it took me almost three years of blogging to find this wonderful resource. The site has over 1,500 book reviews in its database! After you find the books you think will suffice as gifts, stroll about the online grounds for a while…

Use Grammarly to Source (Grammatically Correct) Book Suggestions: This list of thoughtful book recommendations comes from a very useful website: Grammarly. It’s called The Book Lovers’ Holiday Gift Guide.  There’s no resisting Grammarly’s pitch that “…books also make for very affordable and thoughtful gifts.”

Please don’t assume Grammarly’s book recommendations are all snooty tomes of classic literature. (But okay, One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451 all made the list.) Amy Poehler’s recently issued memoir, Yes Please, is highly recommended by Grammarly.

To order any of Grammarly’s suggestions by way of independent bookstore (rather than using the embedded Amazon links), check out IndieBound’s convenient store-finder tool.

Become Master of Your Book-Gifting Domain with Now here’s a website we all could learn from–the web/blogmaster, Glennon Doyle Melton, boldly states her family’s rule is: “…all holiday gift-buying business is done by the end of November.” I like that!

Momastery’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guide promotes other types of gifts besides books. However, since Ms. Melton considers herself a “book pusher,” it starts with books. I second that emotion

Categories include book recommendations for the ladies and their friends, for the guy in your life, and for kids and teens.

Newsday’s Gift List Will Reel You In with Its Book-Cover Porn: Because I’m a Beatles enthusiast, it didn’t take long for me to wander off-course and drool over the first recommendation in Newsday’s list: The Beatles Lyrics, edited by the fabulous Hunter Davies.

The other reason Newsday’s list of Best Books to Give as Holiday Gifts caught my attention was the overgenerous serving of book-cover images. These photos are big splashy flashes of book covers, not indecipherable thumbnail images. Some tempting coffee-table books (such as Toy Stories) are also included in the list.

It won’t take you long to scroll through these selections. A big thank-you to Newsday for making my (and your) literary day!

Browse Grain Edit for the Designing Loved Ones in Your Life: Look no further than Grain Edit for uncommon book suggestions that are the antithesis of boring gifts. The site’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Books offers printed picks regarding design, typography, and illustration.

And don’t rule out Grain Edit so quickly if you need children’s gifts. The initial selections are for your wee ankle-biters, including a book entitled Kiddie Cocktails. The book’s cover appears to be the “love child” of The Jetsons and Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives show on the Food Network.

All the necessary links for immediate shopping gratification are embedded. What are you waiting for? Go, browse. Staci Greenberg of Interior & Design, LLC, I’m talking to you! This list is the literary solution for that special interior designer, graphic artist, or printing professional in your life.’s Book Recommendations Have Nothing to Do with Horror: This site’s Editor in Chief, Peter Sciretta, has compiled a list of book recommendations for both large-screen and small-screen cinephiles. The /Film Ultimate film Geek Holiday Gift Guide 2014 begins with books and then branches out to include other items: toys, collectibles, and games.

Whether you’re a film buff or a business owner, one book that might interest you is author Chris Taylor’s How Star Wars Conquered the Universe. Prolific biographer Walter Isaacson deems it “More than just a geek’s delight–this book is a creativity manual.”

(Here’s the general link for scrolling around the /Film website.)

Ain’t It Cool News and Its Cool, Book-Heavy Gift Suggestions: Almost a companion piece to the /Film list above, the Ain’t It Cool News compilation (aka Quint’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guide Part 2) is a diverse assortment of Hollywood-and-film-centric book recommendations.

Offerings include books about cult-status movies like Day of the Dead, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and The Princess Bride. Additional gift suggestions focus on famous movie studios and the golden age of Hollywood.

This crazy-long list eventually wanders into the wilderness of comic-book, LEGO,  and Star Wars-related merchandise. If you click my first link for Ain’t It Cool News, you’ll notice other links for the non-book gift suggestions (i.e., Part 1 and Part 3).

A Really Good Book List for Business Beginners from a “GOOD” Magazine: My business friends will appreciate this succinct list of suggested reading from GOOD magazine. If you prefer, you can drown all day in business-book suggestions galore by visiting any of the well-known, mega-sized online stores.

But the 2014 GOOD Gift Guide: First Forays into Business Books lowers the thermostat to only five entries, all highly recommended as “beginner” reading material. How can that not be good?!?

The first of the five options is a book about an extremely prolific ice-cream company. You’ll have to do your due diligence to identify the other four book recommendations…


I’m sure you’ve noticed my deliberate omission of (book) gift-giving guides from heavy hitters such as Amazon, Books-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble. In order to live up to this blog post’s title, I focused on book lists from not-quite-mainstream websites.

That said, what unusual online resources have you stumbled upon this holiday season in your quest for the perfect literary gift? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment with the website’s name.

There are approximately eight shopping days until Hanukkah and 16 shopping days until Christmas. If you have visions of best-selling books dancing in your head, don’t dawdle…

Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing or educational copy. Please call Lori Shapiro at 856-810-9764 or email By All Writes LLC at  for a no-obligation project quote today!

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