Nov 15, 2011

Gifts for Book Lovers: A Guide to a Very Bookish Holiday Season

As the holiday season approaches, gift buying guides of all kinds begin to proliferate around the Internet. I thought I’d try my hand at one this year, for the simple reason that making lists is fun and is the next best thing to giving or receiving any bookish gifts.

The holidays are the perfect excuse to treat our loved ones (or ourselves) to a luxury edition of a book they already own. The Everyman Library edition of His Dark Materials is a perfect example: it has a gorgeous cover, a new introduction and preface, and Pullman’s memorable story in a single volume.

His Dark Materials Everyman Edition

I Capture the Castle tote bag from the Literary Gift Company. Need I say more?

I Capture the Castle tote bag

The Literary Gift Company offers plenty of other bookish treats. I love pretty much all of these Penguin Classics mugs, but if I had to pick a favourite A Room of One’s Own would be it.

A Room of One's Own Mug

Bookmarks are probably my favourite bookish accessory, and Etsy is a perfect place to find unique ones. They have everything from this luxury cat bookmark to paper book monsters that can easily be mailed with a Christmas card.

Cat metal bookmark Book Monster paper bookmark

One of my favourite Etsy artists, Adorapop, sells a range of Victorian, literary and fairy tale inspired accessories. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but this pendant, celebrating Darwin’s bicentenary, particularly caught my eye. “I think…” are the words Darwin scribbled on his notebook above his first evolutionary tree in 1837.

Darwin I think pendant

One last Etsy item: “Yay! Books!” pendant from ASnailsPace.

yay books pendant

The What The Dickens? Writing and Literary Gifts shop sells a collection of “literary teabags” with quotations.
Literary tea bags

I imagine they’re even better if served from this teapot or in one of these mugs:

Bookish tea pot
Bookish mug

Over at Neverwear, Neil Gaiman fans can treat themselves to several accessories and other items. I particularly like this Anansi Boys t-shirt, but there’s plenty more where that came from.

Anansi Boys t-shirt

Speaking of t-shirts, Kate Beaton, of Hark! A Vagrant fame, has the very best ones ever. The one I received last year is now one of my dearest possessions. But I also quite like this one:

Hark a Vagrant Queen Victoria Internet shirt

Or this one, which is very popular among book bloggers:

Hark a Vagrant Reading shirt

Lisa Snellings’ Poppets are also very popular among book bloggers, and in the early days of blogging they even became a sort of unofficial mascot. They’re not for every pocket, but they’re beautiful and look perfect decorating a bookshelf.


And look! A Mary Shelley rat:

Mary Shelley Rat

Returning to what I was saying earlier about beautiful editions, who can resist these gorgeous Virago Modern Classics Hardbacks? Or the Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions? Or these Clothbound Classics? I want them all:

The Secret Garden deluxe edition The Tortoise and the Hare deluxe Virago edition A Christmas Carol deluxe penguin edition

I couldn’t of course end this list without including a seasonal book: Vintage’s reissue of Stella Gibbons’ Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm sounds like the perfect holidays read.

Vintage Classics Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm

Finally, let us not forget seasonal DVD watching: as I found out only last year, The Muppets Christmas Carol is a cult classic for a reason; the Cranford BBC series just feels Christmasy; and there’s always the TV adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather (starring Michelle Dockery, aka Mary from Downton Abbey, as Susan Sto Helit - this discovery led to much excitement around these parts), which I plan to watch this Christmas.

Muppets Christmas Carol DVD BBC Cranford DVD Hogfather DVD

Are you planing on giving (or hoping to receive) any bookish gifts this holiday season? Do any of these appeal to you?


  1. I love these! I really want to give some bookish gifts, but unfortunately I don't have any particularly enthusiastic readers amongst my "real life" friends / family. I'll have to ask for them for myself instead. :) I'll probably go with one of those beautiful editions you've featured - I love the Virago Modern Classics ones.

  2. What a great list - I think I'll just send the link to my husband!

  3. I love the mugs! I have to look further and see where they ship!

  4. Oh No...I think I just developed a case of the gimmes! :P

  5. Great list! A while back Tony got me a Hark A Vagrant shirt based off of the Brontes comic in which Anne looks on disgusted as her two sisters swoon over brooding men. I love it!

  6. Poppets! Mine sit on my desk and watch me blog. :) (Well, two of them do; my niece has commandeered the other one to watch over her dreams.) I'm suddenly having a HUGE rush of nostalgia for 2007 blogging, when we all got them! *sigh*

  7. Oh, I wish I had bookish friends and family members I could give these things to! The Everyman Library edition of His Dark Material is especially gorgeous.

  8. Oh, I want all of these things! I just emailed your post to my husband and told him to get to it! What a great collection of book inspired gifts! I hope I get a few!

  9. I'll take one of each please! I LOVE that cat bookmark.

  10. What a great collection of bookish bits!! I'm already adding several items to my holiday wishlist - love the literary teas :)

  11. I looooove the book monsters. Can't believe shipping is $4 to outside the US though :P Sigh.

  12. I love this post! I may just forward people a link to this when they ask me what I want for Christmas, because I want everything here! I love the Neverwhere shop and Penguin mugs and I've been collecting those clothbound editions since they came out.

  13. You know which one I want,don't you? Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm of course!

  14. Some wonderful ideas! I have a Penguin mug - mine was a present from my partner, and it's Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen!

  15. Great list! I especially like the edition of His Dark Materials you included. I have been meaning to read the series for quite some time and I really like the idea of having them all in one big, lovely book :)

  16. Meghan: Sadly it's the same with me! My mother reads and my father likes nature books, but they're not nearly enthusiastic enough for bookish acessories :P This is one of the reasons why I enjoy book blogger Secret Santa swaps so much. I couldn't join any this year but there's always next time.

    Kathy: It sounds like I might have made life easier for the partners and spouses of book bloggers everywhere :P

    Jill: Fingers crossed that they ship internatially! (And that it's not three times as much as the item, which often happens.)

    Debi: Sorry, sorry! I hope they find a cure ;)

    Steph: That's probably my very favourite Hark! A vagrant :D Your shirt sounds awesome!

    Eva: I really miss it too! And I miss my Poppets, which are in storage at the moment.

    Claire: Yes, isn't it beautiful? I also wish I had more bookish people among my offline friends and family.

    Zibilee: I hope you do too! If so, let me know!

    Sandy: I usually don't like metal bookmarks (they don't seem to stay in place) but that one is just so gorgeous!

    Kat: Glad you enjoyed it!

    Amy: Yes, that is quite a bit! You'd think they'd be light...

    Melissa: I want those Penguin clothbound editions so badly!

    Vivienne: Of course :D Only two more days until it's out!

    Tracy: A lovely choice as well!

    Zee: That makes two of us :P

    Brenna: I saw this one at the bookshop and the best thing about it is that it's not incredibly heavy like one volume editions tend to be. I hope you do read the series, as I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

  17. I am engaged in deciding to like Hark! A Vagrant! after all, after many months of ignoring it and not thinking it was that great, so I appreciate the link to the Hark! A Vagrant! merchandise. And that teapot is charming and makes me wish I drank tea.

  18. Great list! I love those mugs!!

  19. I saw some of those Penguin Classics at the bookstore and was SO tempted: they really are great covers.

    You have great taste in bookish gift ideas. Am off to explore your recommendations.

  20. So many temptations here! My favorites are the Penguin mugs and the Dickens teapot/mugs.

  21. I have to agree with Christina, Ana. I love love love this post! I want everything you featured! :-)

  22. So many lovely bookish gifts in this post! I'm tempted to get them for myself.

  23. I love both kinds of the mugs, the tea pot, the book editions, the Dodie Smith bag....gosh, all of it! lol Thank you for putting me into a Christmas kind of mood, Nymeth. It's good to have you back!

    As for me....I have a box I am filling with books for Christmas for me. That's why I think a book mug would go great!!!I'm going to check to see if any of your links have anything for Jane Austen :-)

  24. What doesn't appeal to me? Would be an easier question!! Have just sat here reading your post, and continuously nudgind my boyfriend to look at things. Like hint hint if you haven't bought my Christmas present yet :-)

  25. Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm! Sounds like the perfect thing for everyone in my family this holiday season; we each need some cold comfort.

  26. This post is DELICIOUS!!! I received a Persephone catalogue yesterday in the mail and immediately told Scott "I want one!!" but my favorite literary gift is sitting on my work desk. It's a mug with a chicken in a coat and bowtie. Darles Chickens it says. Might have to take it home so I can photograph it. Was a gift from a fellow grad school student. Will have to ask where she got it...

    Anyway, love this post Ana. Wishing that Google Reader still allowed shared posts. :(

  27. Yeah I'm super selfish and want all of these myself! :D My friends are mostly non-readers but there are one or two who I know might like something of your excellent list!

  28. oh wow! I hope besides giving that you get some of those as gifts for yourself! There are also little gems at used book stores and thrift shops that can be found!

    I do think everything on this list would look spendid under your christmas tree!!

  29. lovely selection of bookish things Ana ,all the best stu

  30. Great post!

    I really must read Hogfather because I have wanted to see the movie for ages!

  31. What lovely gift ideas! I LOVE that teapot and cups!

  32. Wonderful post, Ana! I love that edition of 'His Dark Materials', those Penguin classics mugs and that teapot with mugs! I want to buy that bookish teapot with mugs NOW!

  33. It's posts like this that make me particularly upset over the changes to Google Reader. I want to hit "like" and "share" soooo bad.

    Wonderful, wonderful suggestions! I'm over the moon in love with this Penguin mugs, too. If only they weren't so expensive! (At least, they were in New Zealand at $30 a pop. I assume they're a little cheaper in Canada.) Ditto poppets and gift editions of favourite novels. I hope my parents have picked up on my not-so-subtle hints as to how much I like the gift editions Barnes & Noble has released in the US. I'd love the Gregory Maguire and Anne Rice omnibi.

  34. Oh, I forgot to add that most of my family are getting bookish gifts this year, mostly because I have lots of perfect-condition hardcovers lying around. :) I've had a wonderful time matching each person with just the right book.

  35. Oh dear! I love that mug, tote bag and the pendants. How I wish they're mine...

  36. I don't know which is my favorite! Maybe the teapot or the book mugs right below it.

  37. Great recommendations! I love the t-shirt.

  38. Amazing list of ideas! I love the cat bookmark...


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