A woman holds a few antique books in her arms at waist length. Her top is brown, knitted. The books have gilded type; one is black and is written by Charles Dickens; the one on the top of the pile is red while the book at the bottom has a tan-coloured spine.

Books as Gifts (for Absolutely Everyone on Your Holiday List)

One of my favourite holiday gift-giving traditions is to pair books that I love with people I love. Kind of like matchmaking two people who you think might hit it off. Although, take it from me, matching books and people ALWAYS works out better in the end!

In early December I carve out a day to visit bookstores, shopping for those book gems that most people have never heard of. Because of course they're not obsessive about new books, rare and antique books, obscure, esoteric tomes, like I am. The satisfying thing about book shopping at REAL bookstores is that I often come upon a book I never even knew about and that just happens to be PERFECT for someone on my list. Plus, telling your loved one the story about how you found it in a little bookshop on a shelf behind a staircase and a hair's length from an old man who was sleeping (possibly snoring) in a dusty armchair, clutching his rumpled hat, is much more interesting than, well, based on Amazon's algorithms of my book-buying habits, they thought I should buy it for you.

I'm not big on typecasting, yet I thought it would be fun to imagine a 'what if' scenario whereby I could actually buy books for EVERYBODY in my life. Obviously I wouldn't buy them all the same book because their tastes differ. So I came up with the following list of personalities (some of whom you'll be familiar with), and books that they just might find cool based on their TYPE, she says, tongue firmly planted in cheek. I had lots of fun compiling this list and I hope you enjoy discovering some new books, and making some awesome matches that cause shrieks of glee among your family and friends.

The Chef

This book will blow the door off your root cellar (what you don't have one??); all you never knew about serving up (not-so-humble, it turns out) vegetables, grain and legumes.

The Early Adopter and Futurist

So maybe you don't care about what happens when (not if) robots take over. Although I'll bet you know someone who thinks about this stuff a lot. Brother, you know who you are.

The Sensualist

Known as the father of modern sculpture, this artist was also an accomplished draftsman. It's getting hot in here....

The Artist

This book should be required reading for every artmaker and creator.

The Activist

This harrowing tale of courage takes you back to life for African Americans before Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech. It will make you hate humanity and yet your heart will swell.

The Anxious Teen

This book is smart and irreverant enough to reach those world-weary 13-year-olds who struggle with anxiety or depression, hate self-help books and think happiness is for other people.

The Feminist

Laurie Penny deconstructs modern feminism; discusses eating disorders, poverty, racism, and what it means to be a young woman in the 21st century.

The Altruist

This book is for those who wake up in the morning and ask, "How can I be of service to others?" Want to know how to be effective at making a better world. This book will show you how.

The New Meditator

By now we know--through scientific studies and through people we actually know that seem less stressed--that a regular meditation practice can transform one's life. Even so, most of us don't do it. One of America's top meditation teachers will help you get started.

The Scientist

Brain trauma can rewire our brains sometimes in ways that make us perceive the world differently. This book shows us the wonders and limitlessness of the human mind.

The Mystic

Mystics exist in all the world's religions, yet I mention the Christian tradition here only because it's more familiar to me. I've found great comfort and clarity in the works of Hildegard von Bingen and Teresa of Avila who are featured here, among many others.

The Photographer

This street photographer who produced a prodigious body of work from the 1950s until the 1990s was a complete unknown until a local historian purchased a box of her negatives from a Chicago auction house a few years ago.

The Traveller

Travel writer Pico Iyer describes how the world looks for 'global souls, those who live in international cities, weaving in and out of airports, malls, and pondering the meaning of the word "home."

The Dancer

This book is about one of America's most influential dance choreographers who created a whole dance language; a new way of being. It's written by Agnes de Mille, her longtime friend, and choreographer and writer.

The Healthy Eater

My sister and I have done this cleanse twice and it's been revolutionary for me in terms of learning to listen to what my body needs, to see food as medicine, and to feel like a million bucks without coffee or sugar. It also teaches you how important a healthy gut is!

The Poet

I also recommend this book to people who aren't poets because I think everybody should know how superior artichokes are to most other vegetables.

The Fashionista

I've always loved fashion and admire women who, in their later years, continue to reflect their personal style through how they dress and present themselves to the world. This is the wonderful blog that started it all.

The Budding Feminist

The author of Lemony Snicket said it best, "This is not a book. This is a guest list for a party of my heroes. Thank you for inviting us."

The Designer

Any book this designer puts out is worth snatching up. And you don't even have to have a PhD in typography to appreciate the eclecticism.

The Romantic

Some might say I'm a predictable romantic, but this book of poems has yet to be surpassed.

The Little Magician

This one is for my nieces who wouldn't let me make a book list without adding this magical book series. Also, here's a conversation I had with my nieces about why ABSOLUTELY everyone should read these books. Hear them shame me for not having read even one of the Harry Potter books! Actually, they're pretty nice about it considering how clueless I am about the most famous book series ever.


Here are some book shops I'm visiting over the holidays: Russell Books and Munro's in Victoria, B.C., and Type Books in Toronto. This last bookshop has a wonderful video around the theme, there's nothing quite like a real book. You can check it out here.


Some book blogs that rock the house IMO: Book Slut, LibraryThing, Historical Fiction Society, The Indie Review, Omnivoracious, NYR Daily, Page-Turner, Helping Writers Become Authors, The Millions, The Write Practice, GalleyCat, BooksBlog, and Buried in Print.