gifts they might actually want

The Best Gifts for Bookworms (That Aren’t Books)

Best non-book gifts for people who to love to read — The Strategist gift guide.
Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. I was the kid who read constantly, nursing a book while I ate (my copy of Goblet of Fire is stained with various sauces) and before going to bed. I forced my parents to take me to midnight releases (I was the 25th person to own Breaking Dawn at the Alexandria Barnes & Noble) and spent all day curled around said book, finishing massive tomes in just a few sittings. I would lose hours (days!) in a story, and it is a habit that continued in adolescence and now into adulthood. My story is similar to many bibliophiles, and because we read so much, it’s likely that we’re monitoring the new releases and have a hefty backlist to get through. And while gifting more books is nice (and for a book hoarder like me, always appreciated), you can be almost certain that we’re buying books for ourselves. What we tend to miss are the extras — like the book lights and bookmarks or the scented candle — to round out our reading routines.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of non-book gifts for book people (okay, fine, there’s a few book gifts), and I’ve tapped a few book folks — writers, editors, publishing people, a professor, and other avid readers — along with my personal recommendations to do it.

Gifts for nocturnal readers

Hooga Book Light

This amber-hued clip-on book light is the nighttime reading upgrade they don’t even know they need. After using it for a few months, I can say it definitely beats flicking on your bedside lamp.

Using a headlamp instead of a traditional book light will make their nighttime reading sessions feel like mini-adventures.

This bedside lamp from Hay has a pleated shade and comes in lots of colors — perfect for the bookworm who is design conscious too.

Ideal for an already-book-covered nighstand, this sculptural accordion lamp from Lumio, designed by Max Gunawan, reminds us of origami and comes in lots of shades.

Gifts for reading more comfortably


For your friend who has to work a little harder to maintain a reading vibe (new baby, perhaps): These AirPods Pros noise-cancel and stop playing audiobooks when an earpiece is removed, so they’ll never lose their place.

Photo: retailer

This blanket comes in three weights (starting at 15 pounds) and lots of colors, which makes it a good gift for the reader who wants a customized and maximally cozy experience.

From $99

Zhuzh up their reading corner with sleek-but-comfy chair from the ultrareliable Ikea.

If you’re not sure of your recipient’s favorite titles, artist Jane Mount sells dozens of predesigned prints with books grouped around topics, from feminism and anti-racism to sci-fi and coming-of-age novels.

For picky coffee and tea drinkers, this high-tech mug can keep their beverage at an exact temperature (between 120°F and 145°F). The mug stays warm up to an hour if unplugged or all day if docked in its charging saucer.

If the reader in your life prefers the bed or the couch, writer Molly McGhee suggests this adjustable laptop desk: “All the romance of lazy-Sunday reading with none of the wrist strain,” she says.

This candle by Noble Object is inspired by Toni Morrison’s Beloved (named 124 Bluestone Road after the house in the novel). The scent is based on biscuits and blueberries mentioned in the book, with notes of cinnamon, blueberry, cream, dough, and vanilla.

Your bookworm can set the mood with this statusy candle that actually nails the smell of books. It has that mellow sweetness and a slight, beautiful mustiness.

Gifts for keeping books tidy

Umbra Conceal Wall Shelf
$36 for 3
$36 for 3

These near-invisible wall shelves are the answer to literary overcrowding. And because they’re tiny, they fit nicely into even the most awkward reading corners.

Photo: retailer

And for displaying their heavier books, there’s the Story Bookcase from Design Within Reach (it came up five times in different colors and heights in our Steal My Bookcase story).

Most bookworms (including myself) have a book-buying problem, so a bookshelf is ideal if they have space and won’t buy a nice one for themselves. Mollie Esposito, Lacey’s co-host on the podcast Black Chick Lit, likes that this one is minimalist but still high-capacity.

Editor’s note: Esposito’s recommendation is discontinued, but a thinner version of the Fantol is available.

And for the bibliophile who’s already utilized every inch of vertical space (but won’t stop buying books), a utility cart will help to get some of the overflow off the floor.

These sculptural acrylic bookends are ideal for small-format books like zines and thin paperbacks, which can get lost among thicker, standard-size books.

And if your recipient tends toward the colorful, these come in a kindercore color scheme and fit together in various combinations to make interesting-looking shapes.

Gifts for keeping your place

This cheeky bookmark from Etsy shop Lustcraft features an image of Jesus peering at you and asking a crucial question: “Is that smut?”

A great gift for the person who has a bad habit of losing their place—and their bookmarks.

These little metal markers are a revelation for readers who want to make note, but not dog ears.

Instead of a bookmark, Nicole Lamy, the New York TimesMatch Book” columnist, likes to use one of these vintage-book-cover postcards. The 100-pack includes classic titles like A Clockwork Orange and A Room of One’s Own.

Gifts for marking up books

A pack of pens is a can’t-go-wrong gift, especially for the annotating bookworm. Mujis write thin and smooth, ideal for underlining.

I like these for annotating. They’re perfect for keeping track of the lines and passages I like, and to make things a bit more aesthetic, I coordinate flag colors with the cover of the book.

Post-it Notes 2x2 in

And because I’m allergic to writing directly in books, I’ve found 2x2 Post-it notes to be incredibly useful for jotting down my thoughts. They’re tinier than the normal Post-its but have enough space for a few sentences and a doodle.

Gifts for keeping track of books

Lots of readers also love stationery (there’s just something about the paper!). The Leuchtturm 1917, which we’ve recommended countless times, has thick, smooth paper and a water-resistant cover.

On the pen front, the Lamy Safari pen feels very fancy but works great for beginners who’ve been using a ballpoint their whole lives.

You can order this book stamp with your giftee’s name and initials so they can leave a scholarly mark on their book collection.

Gifts for bookworms who love puzzles and games

For the friend who always sends perfectly punctuated text messages and emails: a card game that includes 100 sentences waiting to be corrected (the first person who corrects the error or calls out “Stet!” gets a point).

And if they like something design-y, I’m a fan of Le Puzz’s nice-looking puzzles. There’s lots to choose from, and the brand collaborates with artists and brands often. This one, for example, was created with L.A.-based artist Joonbug and is my go-to gift for friends.

Experiential gifts

“Readers in the know hunt down certain publishers like people do with record labels,” says Evan Dent, manager of 192 Books in Chelsea. Both the NYRB Classics and New Directions book clubs send a recently published book each month, and for the particularly design-minded bookworm, Dent suggests gifting a subscription to U.K. publisher Fitzcarraldo Editions: “They are consistently better [designed] than the U.S. editions of the books.”

Another book gift without the pressure of picking a book: A subscription to the First Editions Club from Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore, which comes with a signed copy of a newly published book each month.

This subscription service selects books based upon three profiles: the Realist, the Escape Artist, and the Decadent. For $30, the store will send two books every season based on the chosen profile. And because McNally Editions are a bit under the radar, they won’t have read them already.

From $10

Another customized curation option based on vibe: Vignette Bookshop bills itself as the “well-read friend who really just gets your taste.” The online bookseller curates a selection of books based on an archetype, which they determine via quiz (answers include The Hot Girl, The Natural, and The Dark).

If you’re shopping for an audiobook fan like Winchester, she recommends a monthly membership to, an audiobook service that lets customers select a local bookstore to support with each purchase.

Photo: retailer

And for the bookworm who could use a break from it all: The Coloring Book of Mindfulness. Bonus points if you gift it with some colored pencils.

Gifts they can wear

One of my friends recently posted a photo of herself wearing a fabulously long patterned cardigan while reading a book. The Etsy seller Bydna makes a similar one (hers was vintage) in an array of shades, including this striking neon-rainbow number.

If you want something a bit heavier, the Homecoat is the blanket-robe hybrid you could be looking for. It’s a favorite of former Strategist writer Karen Iorio Adelson, who said wearing it feels like “stuffing your coziest comforter into your favorite, lazy-day sweatshirt.”

If your recipient is a bit cheeky, consider A Hundred Other Girls merch. There are a few different phrases to choose from, including book whore, and smut slut.

Give a gift from their favorite bookstore, like this Bookstore at the End of the World shirt. If you don’t know their preferred indie bookstore, you can find plenty of literary merch here, where all proceeds go to the bookstores.

Only book people know the struggle of being unable to bring just one book. My L.L.Bean Boat and Tote—a time-tested Strategist favorite—is the giftable bag of choice to lug around five titles.

Filson bags are incredibly sturdy, hold a ton, and last forever (our very own Chris Black attests that it wears in nicely over time), making them perfect for book-carrying. This one celebrates 50 years of Seattle mainstay Elliot Bay Books and will likely stay in good condition for 50 more.

There’s also this tote from hip Black-owned Reparations Club, which comes in a classic black and the brand’s signature neon-green hue.

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The Best Gifts for Bookworms (That Aren’t Books)