15 of the best book gifts to share & treasure in 2023
There’s always a place in my heart and house for beautiful books, and they’re usually what I give to my loved ones for birthdays, Christmas, and other special moments such as graduations and anniversaries.
On this page, I collect (and sporadically update) my favourite books to give to book lovers, featuring beautifully illustrated books, fantastic books about books, and other choices that most bookworms will appreciate (even if it seems like they have every book already).
Browse through these perfect books to give as gifts and treat a loved one (or yourself!) to a beautiful book to treasure for years to come.
Looking for small bookish gifts? You might also like my list of the best bookish gifts from Etsy.
The most beautiful books for gifts for booklovers in 2023
Rooms of Their Own: Where Great Writers Write by Alex Johnson and James Oses
Rooms of Their Own is the one of best books to give to… book lovers and writers who love browsing beautiful hardcover books and finding inspiration in the rituals of other creative minds.
Offering words by Alex Johnson and evocative watercolour illustrations by James Oses, this stunning book is a celebration of creativity, focus, and the craft of writing.
From luxury writing retreats to empty sheds at the bottom of the garden, readers can examine the unique spaces, habits, and rituals in which famous writers (ranging from James Baldwin to the Brontë sisters and Astrid Lindgren) created their most notable works.
The Unwinding: And Other Dreamings by Jackie Morris
The Unwinding is the perfect book gift for… readers young and grown to treasure for years to come, nurturing both creativity and tranquility.
In this beautifully illustrated book crafted with the chief purpose of easing the soul, the Kate Greenaway Medal-winning artist Jackie Morris bridges the magical land between awake and dreaming where fairytale characters explore and magnificent creatures dwell.
Maria Popova of The Marginalian describes it as, “A quiet masterpiece . . . a love story, a hope story, a story out of time, out of stricture, out of the narrow artificial bounds by which we try to contain the wild wonderland of reality because we are too frightened to live wonder-stricken.”
Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien: The Deluxe Hardcover Edition
Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the best books to give as a gift to… any fan of Tolkien to treasure, offering a feast for the imagination.
With Christopher Tolkien as your guide, take a tour through this wonderful gallery of enchanting art produced by his father, J.R.R. Tolkien.
Presented in a gorgeous cloth slipcased edition, this special book confirms Tolkien’s talent as an artist, with art ranging from delicate watercolors depicting Rivendell, the Forest of Lothlorien, Smaug, and Old Man Willow, to drawings and sketches of Moria Gate and Minas Tirith.
A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader by Maria Popova
A Velocity of Being is the perfect book gift for… bookworms who you think have read everything.
This gorgeously curated book is a celebration of the joys of reading by Maria Popova, the mind and heart of The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings).
A beautiful illustration accompanies each letter about how books have shaped a contributor’s life, sharing stories from figures as diverse as Jane Goodall, Neil Gaiman, Shonda Rhimes, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Elizabeth Gilbert.
Wanderlust USA: The Great American Hike by gestalten
Wanderlust USA is one of the best book gifts for… the people in your life who love adventure and time spent in nature.
I received a gorgeous copy of gestalten’s hardcover Wanderlust Europe as a gift a couple of years ago, and it’s since become one of my favourite travel books to enjoy pride of place on my shelves.
This companion book, Wanderlust USA: The Great American Hike, is also stunning, offering a hardcover guide to the best U.S. long-distance treks, short day trips, and extended weekend adventures.
It’s one of the best travel books I’ve come across to show off on a coffee table and keep turning to for inspiration, complete with wanderlust-inspiring photos and maps. Once you see it for yourself, you’ll probably want your own copy too.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Braiding Sweetgrass is the best book gift for… readers who love nature and will treasure a special edition of ethnobotanist Robin Wall Kimmerer’s celebrated book.
This stunning Milkweed Editions release of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s beloved celebration of plants and indigenous wisdom, Braiding Sweetgrass, is a perfect book gift. I treated myself to a copy last year and return to it often for a small dose of comfort and peace.
Water, Wood & Wild Things: Learning Craft and Cultivation in a Japanese Mountain Town by Hannah Kirshner
Water, Wood & Wild Things is one of the best books to gift… intrepid readers who would love to travel through the culture and cuisine of a misty Japanese mountain town, its evergreen forests, local water, and smoke-filled artisan workshops.
“With this book, you feel you can stop time and savor the rituals of life,” shared Maira Kalman about Water, Wood & Wild Things. I came across this beautiful book about the simple beauty of life in my local library recently and fell in love with it.
Part travelogue, part meditation on the meaning of work, and full of artist and food writer Hannah Kirshners’s drawings and recipes inspired by her time in Yamanaka, this is a soothing and inspiring book about finding purpose in cultivation, craft, and tradition.
Collective Wisdom: Lessons, Inspiration, and Advice from Women Over 50 by Grace Bonney
Collective Wisdom is the perfect book gift for… readers to find inspiration in the best lessons, wisdom, and advice from women over 50, curated by Grace Bonney, the bestselling author of In the Company of Women (another fantastic book to gift).
Best enjoyed as a hardcover, Collective Wisdom is a rich and multilayered collection of interviews, conversations, and intimate photographs of over 100 trailblazing women who describe the ups, downs, and lessons learned while forging their unique paths.
From an Olympic athlete and a NASA team member to award-winning artists, activists, writers, and filmmakers, Grace Bonney celebrates the stories of those who have been there and know the road, generously sharing their wisdom across generations.
Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall
Farmhouse is a beautiful book gift for… young readers to treasure by Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall (but that said, it’s an illustrated book that’s just as exquisite for grown readers).
“Over a hill, at the end of a road, by a glittering stream that twists and turns stands a farmhouse.”
Step inside the dollhouse-like interior of Farmhouse and relish in the joyful daily life of the family that lives there, rendered in impeccable, cozy detail in this beautifully illustrated children’s book.
The Book of Do: A Manual for Living by The Do Book Co.
The Book of Do is the perfect book gift for… friends and family who want to build a fuller and more sustainable life. (Preorder for May 4 in the UK, Sep 5 in the US.)
In this stunning new hardcover from The Do Book Co., the beloved publisher of inspiring pocket volumes has brought together the best writing and artwork from across the collection into one beautifully-produced volume.
Inspiring action and positive change, The Book of Do is carefully curated into themed sections, from Work to Creativity, You, Regenerate, and Sustain.
Persiana Everyday by Sabrina Ghayour
Persiana Everyday is an excellent book gift for… the foodies in your life who are also short on time.
I don’t often recommend cookbooks on Tolstoy Therapy, but this new book by Sabrina Ghayour is worth making an exception.
Following her beloved (but complicated) Persiana cookbook, Persiana Everyday simplifies things with fuss-free, everyday recipes inspired by Persian and Middle Eastern flavors. (I especially love the cheat’s dhal, baked halloumi, and Persian kuku.)
Notes from an Island by Tove Jansson and Tuulikki Pietilä
Notes from an Island is a special book gift for… readers who love art, soothing writing, island escapes, and the work of Tove Jansson, the creator of the Moomins.
Notes from an Island is a delight to browse, read, and hold. It’s the story of how, for twenty-six years, Tove Jansson and her life partner, the artist Tuulikki Pietilä, retreated to an island in the Gulf of Finland to live, paint and write, inspired by the solitude and shifting seascapes.
It’s both a memoir and homage to the island the two women loved intensely and relinquished only when pressed by age, bringing together the meditative beauty of two artists’ work: Tove’s sparse prose, and Tuulikki’s subtle washes and aquatints.
The Five Minute Journal by Intelligent Change
The Five Minute Journal is the perfect book gift for… people who love self-care journals to keep life on track. Use the code TOLSTOYTHERAPY and you can enjoy a 10% discount.
This bestselling book is my favourite gratitude journal, offering the usual high quality and beautiful clothbound cover as Intelligent Change’s other products. I love the notebook’s daily layout – it’s simple but so effective.
Each morning, there’s space to list three things you’re grateful for, what would make today great, and a daily affirmation. Before you fall asleep, you can share three highlights of the day and what you’ve learned.
Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread by Michiko Kakutani
Ex Libris is a bookish gift for… book lovers to retreat into and ponder a rich range of old and new classics, from Homer’s The Odyssey to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
This is literary critic Michiko Kakutani’s personal selection of over 100 works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, with passionate essays on why each has had a profound effect on her life.
To make the book even more special, each essay is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations from lettering artist Dana Tanamachi.
A beautiful photo book from MILK books
Over the last couple of years, MILK books have become one of my favourite gifts to share with loved ones. I gave Iain a wonderfully well-made photo book of our trip on the Trans-Mongolian Railway for his 30th birthday, and we also created our wedding photo books with MILK.
If you’re looking for an extra special gift for someone special, I couldn’t recommend these gorgeous photo books enough.
Just make sure to get organized ahead of time, as it’ll likely take several weeks to design the book and wait for printing and delivery. (Although you can also buy gift vouchers if you’re limited on time.) When your photo book arrives, it’s a gift to treasure for years to come.
If you’d like more book gift ideas, you might also like my curated lists of the best new books for 2023 and the most beautiful books to treasure forever.
Enjoy more from me
- Retreat into my new book, Your Life in Bloom: Finding Your Path and Your Courage, Grounded in the Wisdom of Nature.
- I'm also the author of Mountain Song: A Journey to Finding Quiet in the Swiss Alps, a book about my time living alone by the mountains.
- If you love books, are feeling a little lost right now, and would love some gentle comfort and guidance, join The Sanctuary, my seven-day course to rebalance your life.