12 best Christmas gifts for literary lovers that aren’t just books

·9-min read
We considered budget, practicality, longevity and usefulness   (iStock/The Independent)
We considered budget, practicality, longevity and usefulness (iStock/The Independent)

Whether it’s picking up some festive table decorations, investing in a beauty advent calendar or making the swap to eco-friendly wrapping paper, with December here the preparations for Christmas are well underway.

Part and parcel of Christmas is gift shopping, which is no easy task – particularly if you’ve got a book-loving recipient who seems to have read everything already. As such, we’ve compiled this guide for the literary connoisseur in the hope its contents will surprise and delight.

While the easiest way to gift a book lover may be to buy them a book, there are plenty of other inventive ways to treat someone this Christmas.

From quirky reading lamps and subscriptions to compact bookshelves and special-edition novels, anyone who loves to read will love these gifts.

How we tested

We looked for gifts that weren’t merely books, considering what would make a thoughtful present and taking into account budget, practicality, longevity and usefulness.

Read more:

The best Christmas gifts for book lovers for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Pooky ernest rechargeable table lamp: £115, Pooky.com

  • Best reading challenge – The Literary Gift Company 100 books scratch off bucket list poster: £12.99, Theliterarygiftcompany.com

  • Best for cocktail connoisseurs – ‘Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a literary twist’ by Tim Federle, published by Running Press: £9.99, Waterstones.com

  • Best collector’s item – ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou, published by The Folio Society: £39.95, Foliosociety.com

  • Best for audiophiles – Audible three months’ credit: £23.99, Audible.co.uk

  • Best wall art – King & McGaw ‘A Room of One’s Own’ by Penguin Books: £140, Kingandmcgaw.com

  • Best statement bookend – Hay W&S bookend, ivory: £65, Trouva.com

  • Best ereader – Kindle paperwhite, 2021: £74.99, Amazon.co.uk

  • Best literary subscription – ‘London Review of Books’ six-month subscription: £22.99, Mylrb.co.uk

  • Best reading accompaniment – Mela weighted blanket: £140, Melacomfort.co.uk

  • Best bath reading accessory – Dunelm elements bamboo extendable bath rack: £25, Dunelm.com

  • Best budget bookshelf – Urban Outfitters ari single shelf: £12, Urbanoutfitters.com

Pooky ernest rechargeable table lamp

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

This quirky light from Pooky doubles up as a lovely reading lamp. As with all the brand’s offerings, you can choose from a wide range of patterns for the shade, with this marble colourway being bang on trend for 2022. Its main draw, however, is its portability due to the rechargeable design, meaning you can set up shop whenever you are in the house, with up to 10 hours of use. We also love the elegant brass base that feels like it has come straight out of an old library. There are also three dimming settings.

Buy now £115.00, Pooky.com

The Literary Gift Company 100 books scratch off bucket list poster

Best: Reading challenge

Rating: 8/10

Those that like a challenge or want to broaden their reading horizons will love this scratch-off poster from The Literary Gift Company. Get inspired to delve into a varied range of fiction, non fiction, contemporary and 20th-century tomes, as well as classics – simply rub off each panel once the book is read to reveal a hidden image. There’s plenty to get stuck into, from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho to James Joyce’s Ulysses and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It also makes for nice wall art.

Buy now £12.99, Theliterarygiftcompany.com

‘Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a literary twist’ by Tim Federle, published by Running Press

Best: For cocktail connoisseurs

Rating: 9/10

An ideal gift for the cocktail and literary obsessed, this fun recipe book features 65 very tempting drink concoctions paired with wry commentary on infamous novels. From “The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose” to “Love in the Time of Kahlua”, Federle’s witty notes are paired with inventive and delicious tipples – and even if they don’t make them, they’ll devour the book in one sitting with its quirky illustrations and punchy writing.

Buy now £9.99, Waterstones.com

‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou, published by The Folio Society

Best: Collector’s item

Rating: 9/10

This Folio Society edition of Maya Agelous’s seminal memoir I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings features artist Shabazz Larkin’s beautiful binding design and enthralling illustrations that capture key moments in the book. Written in 1969, Angelou’s emotive account of her childhood in the segregated deep South of America recounts poverty, racism, community, and burgeoning womanhood, with this limited edition also including an introduction by novelist Tayari Jones that explains the lasting significance of the memoir. Folio’s editions of The Color Purple (£39. 95, Foliosociety.com), The Great Gatsby (£39.95) and The Handmaid’s Tale (£44.95, Foliosociety.com) would also make charming gifts.

Buy now £39.95, Foliosociety.com

Audible three months' credit

Best: For audiophiles

Rating: 8/10

Whether you’re on a walk, commuting or even just washing up, audiobooks are a great companion. Amazon’s Audible library contains a vast collection of recorded tomes, spanning memoirs, non fiction, novels, poetry and plenty more. You can gift a subscription for one, three months or six months, with the membership including one credit a month for a book of their choice, unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue and access to thousands of Audible Originals and podcasts. For some laughs, we’d recommend the recently released podcast From the Oasthouse by Alan Partridge, or use up a credit on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s excellently narrated novel Half of the Yellow Sun.

Buy now £23.99, Audible.co.uk

King & McGaw ‘A Room of One’s Own’ by Penguin Books

Best: Wall art

Rating: 9/10

One of our favourite affordable print companies, King & McGaw, offers a charming collection of Penguin book cover prints, including this A Room of One’s Own design. The replica is a homage to Virginia Woolf’s 1929 feminist polemic for women’s financial and intellectual freedom – making it a thoughtful gift for any devotee of the author. To help preserve the precise detailing and original dimensions of the cover, the design contains a small white border. The high-quality print comes mounted in your choice of frame; black stained ash, natural oak, grey ash or white satin. King & McGaw’s collection caters for a wide range of literary tastes, too, from F Scott Fitzgerald to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and many more – so you’re bound to find something in there for a loved one.

Buy now £140.00, Kingandmcgaw.com

Hay W&S bookend, ivory

Best: Statement bookend

Rating: 8/10

You may have seen this coveted piece all over your Instagram feed and it also earned a spot in our best bookends review. While pricey, it makes for an impressive gift. It comes from Copenhagen-based design duo Wang & Soderstrom, which specialises in 3D printed sculptural objects and unique moulded stoneware. The ceramic boulder is weighty and supportive enough for a number of books, making it functional while adding some Scandi flair to your recipient’s shelves.

Buy now £65.00, Trouva.com

Kindle paperwhite, 2021

Best: Ereader

Rating: 9/10

While nothing can beat the feel of real pages, the Kindle paperwhite comes close. There are plenty of benefits to opting for an ereader, whether its their portability, storage or low-price books, and Amazon’s Kindles are top of the range. This latest paperwhite boasts a waterproof design, twice as much storage as its predecessor, access to books, magazines, comics and audiobooks through its Bluetooth connectivity, as well as week-long battery life and a backlight with adjustable temperature for reading day into night. For those wanting endless tomes at their fingertips for prices as low as 99p, Amazon’s ereader is the answer. If you need further swaying, there’s 30 per cent off right now.

Buy now £74.99, Amazon.co.uk

‘London Review of Books’ six-month subscription

Best: Literary subscription

Rating: 8/10

Ideal for those who not only like delving into books but also the literary world surrounding them, this London Review of Books subscription includes the magazine’s latest print issue delivered every two weeks. Your giftee will also enjoy unlimited access to the entire LRB online archive and the latest issues via its app. The magazine caters for anyone with a passion for literature, politics, history, philosophy, poetry and biography, and also features opinion pieces on the arts. Doing much more than just reviewing, the LRB uses books as a jumping-off point for exploring the world. A Christmas gift that keeps on giving, your recipient will receive issues for six months, as well as a complementary LRB 2022 calendar.

Buy now £22.99, Mylrb.co.uk

Mela weighted blanket

Best: Reading accompaniment

Rating: 9/10

There’s nothing like getting cosy with a book come evening, especially around the holiday period. And if you want to gift something that’s a step-up from your run-of-the-mill throw, then may we suggest a weighted blanket. Designed to offer comfort and relaxation, this one from Mela contours to your body and creates a cocooning effect, with the glass pellet composition creating pressure. Whether bundled up on the sofa or wrapped up in bed, it will be your recipient’s new favourite reading accompaniment.

Read our full review of the Mela weighted blanket

Buy now £140.00, Melacomfort.co.uk

Dunelm elements bamboo extendable bath rack

Best: Bath reading accessory

Rating: 8/10

Know someone who loves to read in the bath? Help them avoid soggy books with this rack from Dunelm. Crafted from natural, hard-wearing bamboo, it boasts a metal stand to elevate your book, while the extendable design leaves plenty of room for bathing essentials, from salts and candles to a well-deserved glass of wine at the end of the day.

Buy now £25.00, Dunelm.com

Urban Outfitters ari single shelf

Best: Budget bookshelf

Rating: 8/10

A practical and cute gift for any lover of literature, this compact bookshelf is a thoughtful choice for anyone battling overflowing collections in a small living space. Easily attached to your wall with two nails, the design’s sturdy, especially considering it’s only £12. The metal frame is inlaid with a 40 x 14 x 24cm wooden shelf that can also be a home to plants, candles, trinkets and more.

Buy now £12.00, Urbanoutfitters.com

The verdict: Christmas gifts for book lovers

Pooky’s rechargeable lamp is not only a practical and portable reading light but also a lovely and thoughtful interiors gift that you can personalise to suit your recipient’s tastes. Or pay homage to their favourite author or book by browsing King & McGaw’s Penguin collection and The Folio Society’s special editions. And for those who enjoy books beyond paper, an Audible subscription or Kindle paperwhite will be perfect.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on eBooks and other tech offers, try the links below:

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