20 Best Books to Give to Just About Anyone

Do you have someone hard to shop for on your list? If so, grab one of these 20 best books to give for a winning gift idea they’re sure to cherish.

A book is a gift that continues to give long after the holiday or birthday has passed. When gifting a book, you give something the owner can revisit time and time again, going on new adventures or learning new principles long after the first reading. Books are highly personal, and many people wonder how to find one that the individual they’re buying for will love. This list of the best books to give should help you find an excellent gift for the person on your list. It’s a potential addition to our list of classic books to read

Beautiful Gift Books

1. Japanese Interiors by Mihoko Iida

This coffee table book features photographs of 28 Japanese residential homes. Each one features Japanese interior design, allowing readers to follow its development throughout history. It provides interesting ideas for decoration, and the minimalistic cover looks great on a coffee table. Japanese Interiors is a beautiful book that will look great on the recipient’s coffee table, making it a great book gift idea.

“A family home without private rooms or storage space may sound like a recipe for domestic chaos.”

Mihoko Iida, Japanese Interiors

2. Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien by Christopher Tolkien

Christopher Tolkien
Christopher Tolkien via Wikipedia, Public Domain

This beautiful hardcover book is the ideal gift for a true lover of books. The bibliophile will have a hard time not enjoying the literary contributions of J.R.R. Tolkien, and this book highlights his artistic abilities by showcasing the author’s beautiful visual art. Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien makes the world of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit come to life, and it features text by Christopher Tolkien. If you are looking for books to share with your friends, you might get an interesting choice in our list of the best books for a book club. You can also use the search bar at the top right of the page to search for the best book topics you are interested in.

“Not used in the original impression of The Hobbit, 1937, which included no coloured illustrations, this painting appeared in the second English impression of the same year. It was the only one of the five submitted that’s not used in the first American edition.”

Christopher TolkienPictures by J.R.R. Tolkien

3. Wanderlust USA: The Great American Hike by Gestalten

Stunning photography takes you into some of America’s most enthralling locations through this book. You can take a hike in pictures while exploring areas only the most courageous dare to trek. Whether the reader uses the book to appreciate nature or uses it to plan their next excursion, Wanderlust USA is a beautiful piece to have out on the coffee table.

“Be sure to go for at least one swim during your time in the Beartooth Range. There are very few things in life as invigorating as taking a dip in a remote mountain lake surrounded by nothing but peaks and blue skies.”

Gestalten, Wanderlust USA

Thought-Provoking Books

4. Collective Wisdom by Grace Bonney

Collective Wisdom shares the photos and wisdom of many women aged 50 and older. In the book, author Grace Bonney shares intimate portraits of over 100 women along with the answers to interview questions she asked them. This is a thoughtful gift to consider if you are shopping for a woman. Most of the women featured are trailblazers in some way, so the reader can see what drove them to success. The advice they give will change the trajectory of the recipient’s life if they choose to follow it.

“Diana Nyad, 71, is one of the toughest athletes in the world. At age 64 years old, she realized her dream of being the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage for protection. Diana has never let sharks, jellyfish, or expectations of what she should do get in her way. She was inducted into the US National Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.”

Grace Bonney, Collective Wisdom

5. Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread by Michiko Kakutani

Michiko Kakutani
Michiko Kakutani via Wikipedia, Public Domain

This book is one of the most thoughtful gifts you could give to the bookworm in your life. Literary critic Michiko Kakutani has collected over 100 books everyone should read, including bestsellers and little-known works lost to history. His summaries are accompanied by lettering from Dana Tanamachi, making Ex Libris a beautiful and helpful book.

“As a child, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson recalled in a speech that he was the one in his family who wanted to read all the books in the house, who wore out his library card and kept books way past their due date.”

Michiko Kakutani, Ex Libris

6. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey
Stephen Covey via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Everyone wants to be effective, but many people lack the knowledge to be so. The classic book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People will inspire the recipient on the necessary changes to become an effective person. If you are looking for a gift this holiday season that you can be confident the recipient will benefit from, then offer them this book.

“It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another thing not to admit it. People will forgive mistakes, because mistakes are usually of the mind, mistakes of judgment. But people will not easily forgive the mistakes of the heart, the ill intention, the bad motives, the prideful justifying cover-up of the first mistake.”

Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

7. Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman
Amanda Gorman via Wikipedia, Public Domain

This collection of poets by inaugural poet Amanda Gorman will get the recipient thinking about history, race, and identity. She speaks to the collective grief caused by the pandemic in this work. Call Us What We Carry also includes her famous “The Hill We Climb” poem. This is Gorman’s debut collection of poems and a must-read for any poetry lover.

“We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried”

Amanda Gorman, Call Us What We Carry

Nonfiction Books

8. What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

Randall Munroe
Randall Munroe via Wikipedia, Public Domain

What If? Answers the age-old question of “What if?” certain things happen. It provides scientific answers to hypothetical questions, such as “What would happen if the Earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning, and the atmosphere retained its velocity?” While these are clearly not questions anyone would naturally ask, they get the reader thinking and scientific facts back the answers. The book is so popular that Munroe wrote What If? 2, a sequel.

“Nearly everyone would die. Then things would get interesting.”

Randall Munroe, What If?

9. Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks by Patrick Radden Keefe

Patrick Radden Keefe
Patrick Radden Keefe via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Everyone seems to like reading about “bad guys,” and this New York Times bestseller capitalizes on that fact. Patrick Radden Keefe is one of the modern age’s most decorated journalists, and in this book, he puts his journalism skills to work along with his storytelling abilities. The actual accounts of criminal masterminds read like short stories, keeping the reader engaged while sticking to the facts simultaneously. The Los Angeles Times called Rogues a real page-turner, so it’s a great gift for anyone who loves to read.

“There are two types of wine counterfeiters: those who do not tamper with what is inside the bottle and those who do.”

Patrick Radden Keefe,  Rogues

10. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Becoming is the memoir of one of history’s most famous black women, former First Lady Michelle Obama. She tells her life story in the book, it was a bestseller on the New York Times list in 2018. She shows how she grew from life on Chicago’s South Side to become the first African-American First Lady. This book is less about politics and more about following someone’s struggle to motivate themselves to find success, making it a great gift idea for just about anyone.

“Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”

Michelle Obama, Becoming

11. Lighter by Yung Pueblo

As you are thinking about books for loved ones, why not consider one that will help them heal their inner wounds? Lighter by Yung Pueblo dives into that idea. It gives the reader a comprehensive plan for lifting the inward wounds they feel to live a more compassionate, clear-headed lifestyle. If you have a friend on their way to quitting alcohol, check out our guide to the best books for quitting alcohol! You can also use the search bar at the top right of the page to search for the best book topics you are interested in.

“During the years when I had abandoned myself, my mind felt undeniably heavy. I knew I needed to find a clear way to help me feel lighter.”

Yung Pueblo, Lighter

Fiction Books

12. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is a science-fiction novel that reimagines the story of The Island of Doctor Moreau but puts it in the world of 19th-century Mexico. In this story, an idyllic Mexican family has some secrets, but they don’t cause any trouble until a stranger shows up and questions start happening. It is both a historical fiction novel and a science-fiction novel, and it comes from bestselling author Silvia Moreno-Garcia. The cover art is also beautiful, making it a great gift book.

“Everywhere Montgomery had been he’d spied the same misery under a different guise. In England it was in the factories, in Latin America it was in the fields. There was always someone with a little more money, a little more power, and he owned you.”

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

13. 30 Things I Love About Myself by Radhika Sanghani

A great book club book, 30 Things I Love About Myself, opens with the main character in jail. She finds her life spiraling out of control and turns to a self-help book for support. In the book, she learns how to love herself and changes her life by spending more time working on herself. These changes are centered on the arrival of her 30th birthday, and she finds that it’s time to take charge of her life and start loving herself again.

“But that was one of the best nights of my life, because it was the start of my self-love journey. It forced me to go inward, to make my peace with who I am, and ultimately, to fall in love. With myself.”

Radhika Sanghani, 30 Things I Love About Myself

14. Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Run Rose Run combines James Patterson’s genius with Dolly Parton’s music in a fun new book. It even has a Dolly album with original songs that comes with the book. It is the perfect gift for a book lover or a fan of Dolly’s music. This combination means the recipient can discuss the music and the book after receiving their gift. The book tells of a singer-songwriter who is gaining popularity but is also on the run to protect her life.

“Fate granted some people their wildest, greatest wishes while leaving the simplest pleas of others unanswered.”

Dolly Parton and James Patterson, Run Rose Run

15. PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern
Cecelia Ahern via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Cecelia Ahern is someone people who love a good love story will already know, but PS, I Love You was her debut novel. It tells of a husband and wife who face tragedy when the husband dies unexpectedly. He comes back as her guardian angel and helps her heart and life heal. It is a classic work, but the tale that Ahern weaves throughout each page makes it timeless. If the person you’re shopping for hasn’t read it, add it to your gift-giving list. Check out our round-up of the best Irish authors

“Shoot for the moon, even if you fail, you’ll land among the stars.”

Cecelia AhernPS, I Love You

16. Wonderland: A Thriller by Jennifer Hillier

Wonderland is a thriller that takes deputy police chief Vanessa Castro into an amusement park to explore a string of disappearances that seem to be tied to a seemingly innocent location. The backdrop of the park, with its wax figures and weathered rides, is the perfect spooky setting for a thriller novel. With 4.5 stars on Amazon, it’s clear this book hits the mark with the right audience.

“Anger—when she felt it, which wasn’t often—always began as a slow burn. First, there was a little spark, and then there’d be a flame, and if the flame burned long enough, there would be rage. Pure, white-hot, unfiltered, unapologetic rage.”

Jennifer Hillier, Wonderland

Gift Books for Kids

17. The City of Ember by Jeanne DePrau

This interesting book tells of Lina and Doon, two young people who live in Ember, a city under the ground. Originally built to hold and protect the human race, Ember will fall because food and energy are in short supply. The two kids must convince their population that an ancient scroll they found tells how they can escape. This dystopian sci-fi adventure is available as a chapter book, graphic novel, or audiobook, so you can give it to the young reader in your life, no matter how they like to consume literature. The City of Ember is also the first in a series of eight novels, so it is the kind of gift that can continue giving.

“There is so much darkness in Ember, Lina. It’s not just outside, it’s inside us, too. Everyone has some darkness inside. It’s like a hungry creature. It wants and wants and wants with a terrible power. And the more you give it, the bigger and hungrier it gets.”

Jeanne DePrau, The City of Ember

18. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling via Wikipedia, Public Domain

If the child you’re shopping for hasn’t read it yet, then consider gifting the first story in the series about everyone’s favorite boy wizard, Harry Potter. Book one, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is ideal for the 11 to 12-year-old age group, and it opens the door to a seven-book series and a magical world that will inspire imagination.

If your kids are too young to read the books themselves, consider using book one as a read-aloud. Choose a gift version of the book with beautiful illustrations to make an impactful gift. Check out our guide the best British authors

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

19. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

The beautiful artwork and heartwarming story in Where the Wild Things Are make it one of the most popular picture books. It won the Caldecott Medal and often shows up on lists of “Best Illustrated Children’s Books.” If you are buying for a young child who doesn’t have this one, consider a hardcover version so they can go on a fantastical imaginary journey and enjoy a “wild rumpus” with Max and the Wild Things over and over.

“Oh, please don’t go—we’ll eat you up—we love you so!”

Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

20. Love You Forever by Robert M. Munsch

Love You Forever is full of sentiment, and it is sure to pull on the heartstrings of the adult that reads it aloud to a child they love. The story tells of all of the times a mother tells her child ‘I’ll love you forever,” until the very end when the child says the same thing to his mother and then to his own baby. This classic is a must-have for any new parent or young child.

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

Robert M. Munsch, Love You Forever

FAQs About The Best Books To Give

Which is the best book to change a life?

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie teaches you how to work best with people in business. Even if you don’t apply the principles to business, being a skilled “people person” will improve your life.

What is considered the greatest book of all time?

Outside of religious books like the Koran or Bible, the greatest book of all time may be Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the Pulitzer Prize winner, is considered second.

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best books by Sylvia Day!

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.