Book Corner: Some hints and tips on gifting books to grown-ups

If you’re a book lover (stating the obvious here), you instinctively know books make the best gifts.

They’re relatively inexpensive, can be as personal or impersonal as you like, and the options are endless. Picture this: The Library of Congress alone holds 38 million books, and, even if you read an entire book every day for 75 years, that’s only 27,375 books. I’m not trying to depress the hard-core bookworms; I’m merely illustrating the multitude of gift-giving options available to you during the holidays and all year.

Here are a few “rules” for responsible gifters of books to follow (or at least consider) when selecting a tome for Uncle Joe and a novel for your neighbor.

First, don’t give the same book to everyone because you loved it so much that you want to shout it from the rooftops. Next thing you know, you’ll be handing it out door-to-door. Do pick a book that makes the recipient feel understood (not judged). For example, you might not want to give “The Hoarder in You” to the cousin who collects used pizza boxes. You might also include a personal note with the book to explain why you chose that particular title. Try to pick something related to their interests, even asking about favorite movies. Finally, in the words of Hermione Granger, “When in doubt, go to the library.” We’ll be your personal shoppers, and we won’t be offended if you order the book online right in front of our faces.

Here are a few of my giftable picks from 2018:

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
This is the book I’d disseminate door-to-door if I could. “Hidden Figures” meets “The Martian” when an asteroid collides with Earth in the 1950s, speeding up the Space Race. Strong females, diversity, and alternate history make this a great pick for a feminist friend.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
You know those personal development books that give you 50 steps to changing your life, and you feel lousy when you don’t (can’t, won’t) follow them? This isn’t one of those. Hollis is fresh, funny, and relatable - and an actual human being. Her guide to becoming a confident woman is perfect for your bestie or sister.

Northland: A 4,000-Mile Journey Along America’s Forgotten Border by Porter Fox
If you’ve ever wondered what the northern border of America is like, it’s probably just like you picture, but slightly more interesting. Give this book to the armchair traveler in your life, especially one who likes a good dose of history.

The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll
For that one coworker whose idea of a good time is sorting M&Ms by color. Or, for those who like an excuse to buy pretty office supplies. The bullet journal method harkens back to the days of pen and paper, helping you organize your notes and to-dos so you can live an “intentional” life (his words, not mine).

The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine by Thomas Morris
Grandpas, dads and anyone who hasn’t grown out of that middle-school obsession with all things gross and weird will be enchanted. Medical historian Morris presents a bizarre collection of Victorian-era treatments discovered in the pages of old medical journals. The fun kicks off with a puzzling series of dental explosions (!) in the 19th century.

Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes by Todd Richards
James Beard Award-nominated Chef Richards makes my mouth water with his soul food remixes. Traditional Southern staples - such as chicken and waffles, onions and grits - are paired in odd-sounding, yet delicious, ways. I think I’m even willing to try his chicken liver pâté on zucchini bread. Gift this book to someone who will cook for you.

For approximately 27,369 additional gift-giving recommendations, visit

Tracy McPeck is the Adult Services Coordinator at Central Rappahannock Regional Library. This article was first published in the Free Lance-Star newspaper and is reposted here with their permission.