10 books to give as gifts this Christmas (or to treat yourself)

I’m not really a big gift person. I usually ask for time spent with loved ones or experiences rather than gifts, and that’s usually what I give people, too. But there’s one exception – books.

I love the feeling of giving someone a book I know they’ll love. It might be a book that matches what they’re going through, or maybe it has characters they’ll adore and relate to.

When I think someone should read a book, I will remind them about it fairly relentlessly until they pick it up to at least try it. If they love it, it’s one of my favourite feelings out there.

Here are some of the books I’ll be giving as presents (and ordering people to read!) this Christmas.


1. Goodbye Things: The new Japanese minimalism by Fumio Sasaki

The perfect book to remember what’s really important. Read it to reassess your priorities for the next year and get back on the right track.


2. Silence: In The Age of Noise by Erling Kagge

One of the most beautiful little hardbacks I own. I shared my thoughts on this lovely book by explorer, writer and publisher Erling Kagge not long ago.


3. Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

This new one from Matt Haig has been one of my favourites of 2019. If you struggle with anxiety, read this and know that you are absolutely, certainly, and most definitely not alone.


4. Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

New Murakami, new Murakami! It’s another long one by the Japanese novelist, which is ideal to set aside for a few festive days curled up on a sofa with some mulled wine and mince pies.

I recently shared how it gave me the courage I needed to be creative and start afresh in my own life.


5. Becoming by Michelle Obama

I still haven’t read it, so I’m going to be treating myself to a copy this December. Let me know if you have read it, I’d love to hear what you think.


A non-book contender: Thoreau Notecards

I was admiring these notecards in a bookshop in Zurich yesterday. They come as a set of twelve with four different designs, each one with a quote from Thoreau and a beautifully-designed envelope.

If you know someone who loves to send hand-written notes, or you’d like to send some of your own messages this Christmas, look no more.



6. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

If you or your loved ones have read the other Cormoran Strike novels, this is the latest addition.

I wouldn’t say it’s the best of the series, but I always enjoy escaping into the streets of London with Strike and Robin in any case.


7. Bedtime Stories for Stressed Out Adults – Introduced by Lucy Mangan

I’m currently reading this anthology at the moment after receiving it as an “advent calendar book” (a very thoughtful gift!)

I have one short story or poem for every day of December, ranging from Tolstoy to Oscar Wilde and Kate Chopin.


8. From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan

This is a quiet and unassuming small book, but I absolutely loved it. I’d say it’s a good gift choice for a friend who has read everything and is known for their top-class literary expectations. If they love Irish literature, all the better.


9. You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

If you know a woman who doesn’t realise how incredible she is, here’s a book for her. Jen Sincero gave me the kick in the butt I needed when I was embarking on my self-employed journey earlier this year.

Another great book that helped me a lot here is Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead by Tara Mohr.

10. A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler

I shared recently that this is one of my favourite books – maybe ever.

Give this to someone who loves the mountains, nature, and living simply. Not much happens in the life of Andreas Egger, but that’s the whole idea really – a quiet life is still an extraordinary life.


What books are you giving for Christmas this year?



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Love books, feeling a little lost right now, and looking for some comfort and guidance forwards? I made The Sanctuary exactly for this.

It's good to meet you! I started Tolstoy Therapy back in 2012 to share my healing journey through anxiety and PTSD with books. I also climb mountains, go on solo adventures, and write over at livewildly.co.

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