Book Gift Ideas You Can Check Out at the Library Before You Buy

Posted on December 8, 2021 at 6:00 am

By Savannah Stewart

The holiday season is when I love to give books as presents to family and friends. I read a wide variety of titles throughout the year, and inevitably, as I’m reading, I’ll think of someone who will also enjoy the book.

So, I’ve complied this list of books that could make great gifts for your loved ones too. I’ve sorted them into interests, though some have some crossover (baking and TV, for example), to help you match them up with the interests of the readers in your life.

These books are all available at our libraries, so you can check them out and peruse their pages before you commit to buying them.

For Gardeners, Travelers & Nature Lovers

Subpar Parks: America’s Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors, by Amber Share

If you’ve seen a 1-star review of your favorite restaurant, you’ve probably felt disheartened (and maybe even angered) by it. How could a place you love not impress everyone else?

That’s how Amber Share felt when she discovered a 1-star review for the Grand Canyon. It got her thinking: “How many other national parks have gotten poor reviews?” It turns out, all of them!

Instead of getting angry, she turned the reviews into art and humor to celebrate all the parks. My personal favorite is the 1-star review of Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon is a stunning collection of hoodoos—distinctive and spiky rock formations—that are bright orange! They’re not stunning to all it seems because someone left a review that said, “Too orange, too spiky.” Nature just isn’t for everyone, I guess!

Natural History: The Ultimate Visual Guide to Everything on Earth, by The Smithsonian

Curious about minerals, rocks, fossils, microscopic life, plants, fungi, and animals? This visual guide has you covered. The images are beautiful, and there’s something for everyone in this guide. Flipping through it, I discovered that there is a turtle species called the Pig-Nosed Turtle. And yes, it is aptly named. Curious minds will relish in all this book has to offer.

1000 Perfect Weekends: Great Getaways Around the Globe, by National Geographic

We all need something to look forward to once our days get dark earlier and the weather turns cold. This book is one that will help you plan some trips for when the snow has melted! Each chapter is divided up into themes including Beach Escapes, Road Trips, Food & Wine, and Eco-Escapes. There are 18 chapters total, and when they say 1000 perfect weekends, they mean it!

House Planted: Choosing, Growing, and Styling the Perfect Plants for Your Space, by Lisa Munoz

Munoz shares plants that are great for indoors and provides a helpful key at the bottom of the pages that shares difficulty, light, water, and toxicity. There’s also a section on which plants would work great in individual rooms of your home. The book’s structure is well organized and easy to follow.

It would be hard for any plant lover to flip through this book and not have a growing list of plants to buy.

For Cooks, Bakers & Food Lovers

The Coffee Book: Barista Tips, Recipes, and Beans from Around the World, by Anette Moldvaer

This book will help turn any coffee lover into a coffee expert. Learn about the different types of beans, coffee-growing techniques, and the best cup of coffee you can make with the equipment you have at home (she goes over them all!).

Want to capture the flavor of Vietnamese iced coffee? The back pages are full of recipes from around the world. Combine this book with a bag of locally roasted coffee to create a wonderful gift sure to make any coffee lover’s spirits soar.

Colombiana: A Rediscovery of Recipes and Rituals from the Soul of Colombia, by Mariana Velásquez

Prepare for a mouth-watering experience when you flip through this vibrant cookbook. Not only can you learn how to make empanadas and arepas, but you will also learn how to be a great host for dinner parties that will leave your guests nourished in body and soul.

The Weekday Vegetarians: 100 Recipes and a Real-Life Plan for Eating Less Meat, by Jenny Rosenstrach

Maybe you have a friend or loved one that is interested in eating healthier? Or maybe you want to try out Meatless Mondays or a new Taco Tuesday recipe?

This book has loads of new recipes to try, like Squash and Black Bean Tacos or Broiled Caesar Salad with Chickpeas. It also has tips to make cooking vegetarian an easy and simple task.

Pizza Czar: Recipes and Know-How from a World-Traveling Pizza Chef, by Anthony Falco

This book is for anyone who loves pizza enough to try homemade dough. Or for the friend who has mastered bread making and wants to dive into something new.

Homemade pizza is easier than you might think and tastes 1000% better than anything from the frozen pizza section or delivery. The toppings are endless and even picky eaters can find something they’d like!

You can gift your pal with a pizza stone and this book as a not-so-subtle hint that you’d be down to eat some homemade pizza.

The Italian Bakery: Step by Step Recipes with the Silver Spoon, by The Silver Spoon Kitchen

This book features 140 recipes including pies, pastries, cookies, and cakes that have step-by-step instructions with pictures! Whether gifting to a practiced baker or someone just starting out, this book offers beautiful and delicious desserts that will please many different palates.

Hello, Cookie Dough: 110 Doughlicious Confections to Eat, Bake & Share, by Kristen Tomlan

Kristen Tomlan is the founder and CEO of DŌ, the world’s first edible cookie dough shop. Sadly, it’s located in New York (road trip anyone?). Fortunately, she wrote this book so you can make your own!

I have made a few recipes and can confirm that they are delicious. The edible chocolate chip cookie dough is a classic, and the molten cookie dough cupcakes are absolutely worth the work.

The King Arthur Baking Company Essential Cookie Companion, by King Arthur Baking Company

This cookbook has just been released and has everything you already love about King Arthur Baking Company (formerly known as King Arthur Flour) and more, including easy-to-follow recipes and tips for making the best cookies, giving you loads of yummy reasons to try out new cookies this winter (such as dipping in hot cocoa!).  

For Fans of Music, Movies & TV

King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B. King, by Daniel de Visé

Many musical artists from the last 50 years point to King as an influence and inspiration and there’s a reason for it! B. B. King led a long and interesting life, as well as being a trailblazing musician, and any music lover is sure to find this in-depth biography about B. B. King fascinating.

Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual History, New Edition (2021), by Kristen Baver

Star Wars fans will love diving into this visual history of the franchise that includes movies, TV shows, and the newest installments at Disney Theme Parks. This edition has been fully updated and expanded.

Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: The Story of Schitt’s Creek, by Dan Levy and Eugene Levy

Fans of the TV show Schitt’s Creek will rejoice in this coffee table book that shares behind the scenes tidbits from the creators and cast. This book is probably worth the cost for the catalog of Moira’s wigs alone.

Nailed It!: Baking Challenges for the Rest of Us, by Nailed It! and Jacques Torres

Did I sneak another cookbook into this list in a different category? You bet I did!

This one is sure to create some family baking memories to last a lifetime. New holiday tradition perhaps?

It’s Your Funeral! Plan the Celebration of a Lifetime Before It’s Too Late, by Kathy Benjamin

Planning your funeral may sound a bit macabre, but Benjamin makes it a fun, interesting, and humorous experience. The introduction alone is a gold mine of hilarious sentiments. My favorite (and the most convincing) reason she gives is: “You need to be a least as rational as Nicolas Cage when it comes to planning your funeral. That is a very low bar.” She’s not wrong. (Also, see how I got this one to fit this category?) By the time you’re done with the book, you’ll have your thoughts and wishes written down among the helpful pages.

If nothing from this booklist is striking your fancy, you can head to your local library and ask for suggestions with the interests of your loved ones in mind. Sharing books is the best part of working at the library, so don’t hesitate to ask for help.

And as a library customer, being able to look through the books on the shelves (and really examine their contents) can help you make the best choices for gifts.

Savannah Stewart

Savannah Stewart is the Communication Associate with Spokane County Library District. She enjoys spending her time reading, hiking, traveling, and eating delicious food, including the homemade pizza her partner makes. To relax, she meditates, practices yoga, and snuggles with her kitty Zelda.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,