The Books I Gift Most Often

Often when I reveal I’m a book blogger in conversation, I’m asked who my favorite writer is, or what books I recommend most. Oddly enough, these two aren’t always the same.

The following books are ones that I believe every human should read. Regardless of what your reading tendencies are, these are works that will resonate with anyone on some level. These are all writers who are incredibly skilled not only technically but emotionally as well.

Whenever I see a cheap copy of any of these while thrifting, I grab it. I have a short shelf in my office closet where I keep them to gift when the moment is right. I’m highly intuitive and my personal recommendations are definitely guided by this. Sometimes I see a book and just have a feeling that a particular person will like it. Or I get a nudge that someone needs one of these books now, when I hadn’t felt that before.

Take this list as my own way of personally recommending each of these books to you as well!

The Books I Gift Most Often


Naked by David Sedaris

After The Santa Land Diaries, my other favorite Sedaris essay, Plague of Tics,  is in this collection. This is the first book of his I read, and the first non-fiction writing that made me think, I want to do that. It’s hard to say which of Sedaris’ books is his “best,” but this is a top contender. I think it’s a great introduction to him as a writer, and a human.


Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve heard some creatives call this book their Bible and I can understand that sentiment. I think of it as a guide to authentic living. Even if you don’t think of yourself as “creative,” you will take a lot from this book. And I think you’ll realize you’re more “creative” than you give yourself credit for. Because having ideas, making decisions, living a full life – all of this requires us to be creative, even if we aren’t creating a tangible object.


The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

This book opened my eyes to the fact that I am the only person who is in control of my own happiness. I think everyone needs to have this realization so I gift this book a lot. Gretch Rubin has since written several more books that are powerful for inspiring change in regard to happiness, habits, and overall quality of life. This one is the best introduction to Gretchen and her work.

Watership Down by Richard Adams

This is my first favorite book that has stuck with me. I read it when I was 12 and have returned to it many times, even suggesting it for my book club as recently as three years ago. It’s a classic but it doesn’t feel that way. It’s not an allegory, it’s just a really good adventure story about rabbits. It serves as a great introduction for younger readers to more grown up reading, and is powerful for animal lovers to imagine how rabbits (and other animals) might be living these rich, complicated lives.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

A novel in short stories, Olive Kitteridge is unlike most other fiction you’ll read. It’s emotionally full and messy, chronicling how the lives of people in a small town overlap. Olive is not a likable protagonist, which used to bother me but now I see how representative that is of real life. From these different points of view, we get a better portrait of Olive Kitteridge as a woman and a human being, than we would have from a straightforward narrative.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Inspired by actual events, and the author’s love of opera, this is one of the most beautiful novels I’ve read. There is action and violence, and it puts these characters in an extraordinary position to see each other in ways they wouldn’t have otherwise. It puts the human heart on display, and our capacity for love, connection, and understanding, even in times of crisis.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Technically I’ve never gifted this book to anyone. However since I read it in June, I’ve lent my copy to four friends who all loved it. I’ve had my eyes peeled for another copy since then. This will definitely be a book I keep on my “To Gift” shelf.  It’s a story with a little bit of everything. It’s historical fiction, with themes of romance, social issues, current events. The writing is sharp, weaving past and present beautifully. It’s a must read for anyone who loves a good story and deep characters.

Have you read any of these? Maybe I’ve even gifted you one? I want to hear your thoughts.

And what books do you pass on to others most often?

1 Comment

  1. Jackie O'Briant

    December 13, 2019 at 7:34 am

    I have read most of these—I loved Big Magic, Bel Canto, Watership Down, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo myself. You’ve made me very curious about Olive Kitteridge…I think I’ll need to read that one. I’ve never thought of having a shelf of go-to books for gifting. I want to say that I’m more of a case-by-case gifter, but when I think about it, I do have my go-to’s in my classroom for getting students hooked. Some of those are Orbiting Jupiter, Scythe, Projekt 1067, Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda, and Born a Crime.

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