Good Books for Gift Giving

good books for gift giving

I love making book lists!  This is an updated version of last year’s book list with new additions at the beginning of each category.

Adult Fiction:
So Big was one of my favorite reads in 2015.  Rebecca was another one.

I would like to collect all the Black Dog Opera Library collection.  I started with La Traviata earlier this year, and appreciate having background on the composer, the story of the opera, along with the complete Libretto (text of the opera itself–yes, I had to look that up!), commentary, and the opera on CDs.

Kristin Lavransdatter is one of my all time favorite books. This edition is especially beautiful as well.

I love Rumer Godden, and especially In This House of Brede and Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy. Another favorite is An Episode of Sparrows (New York Review Children’s Collection).

Willa Cather is probably my favorite author and I love these two volumes of her novels: Early Novels and Stories and Later Novels.  I read Shadows on the Rock (Vintage Classics) and it is one of my favorites of hers, after My Antonia, one of the very few books I have read more than once. Just typing the title, I want to go pick it up and read it again right now.

Katherine is sooo good.

And Wilkie Collins! The best of his that I’ve read is The Woman in White .

And finally, epic and beautiful if not rather long, The Betrothed: I Promessi Sposi (Penguin Classics).  I will re-read it someday.

Jonny’s favorites:
One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, and Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage (Seth and Keats read this one as well).

Jon Krakauer is a favorite author, Michael Perry is another.


I really loved My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir.

I’m reading The Reed of God now. It’s perfect Advent reading.

I find Mother Theresa’s writings to be very encouraging and recommend No Greater Love and Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta.

I also love St. Therese and while I have read her own Story of a Soul, I also really liked this little book: The Love That Keeps Us Sane: Living the Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux (Illuminationbooks.).

Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry is lovely and so is A Mother’s Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul.


I am often asked for camera and photography advice. The book I always recommend, and the one I used to learn how to shoot in manual mode from is Understanding Exposure. That book would make a great gift for someone wanting to learn. A similar book by the same author, that I also recommend (and possibly prefer) is Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Photography Field Guide: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera.  Along those same lines, though not a book, this is the lens that is on my camera 95% of the time.

Nature and field guides:

Nature Anatomy is so fun!  I think it would make a particularly great gift.

For the tree lover, we are on our second copy of Remarkable Trees of Virginia (you don’t have to live here to appreciate this book.) I also really like The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-Ups.

Some of our most used field guides include: North American Wildlife: An Illustrated Guide to 2,000 Plants and Animals (we’re on our 3rd copy), Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont: A Naturalist’s Guide to the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia (Southern Gateways Guides), Caterpillars of Eastern North America, Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, and A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides). I don’t have a favorite tree identification field guide, but have Native Trees of the Southeast: An Identification Guide on my wishlist.

Homesteading and Beekeeping:

Sylvia’s Farm: The Journal of an Improbable Shepherd and Goat Song were my top two farming reads this year.

Jonny’s reading Adventures in Yarn Farming right now.

The Heirloom Life Gardener: The Baker Creek Way of Growing Your Own Food Easily and Naturally, Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening, and The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers.

The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally is our favorite beekeeping resource, though my favorite book about beekeeping in general is A Book of Bees: And How to Keep Them.

Natural Dyeing:

My favorites are Wild Color and Harvesting Color.

The Knitter’s Book of Socks, The Knitter’s Book of Wool, and The Knitter’s Book of Yarn would all make great gifts.

Anything by Elizabeth Zimmerman is probably a good choice. I have and love Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac, Knitting Without Tears: Basic Techniques and Easy-to-Follow Directions for Garments to Fit All Sizes, and The Opinionated Knitter.

Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book really is a great resource.

And finally my favorite Stephanie Pearl-McPhee book is Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot’s Bag of Knitting Tricks.

For Children:

We have a dozen or more collections of poetry for children, and I occasionally add a new title.  I want to add A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children to our collection.

We have read several of the books in Tomie DePaola’s 26 Fairmount Avenue Series and I highly recommend them. Endearing stories of family life with a nice bit of humor, they make great read-alouds that will span a wide range of ages as far as interest goes. I also think they would make great first chapter books for young readers.  I just ordered a few more of them to put under the tree this year.

We have really enjoyed this Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales for years. You can’t go wrong with Beatrix Potter!

We also like the Calla edition of Stories from Hans Christian Andersen. The illustrations by Edmund Dulac are some of my favorites. Many of the Calla Editions look beautiful.

James Herriot is another favorite. This volume for children looks lovely: James Herriot’s Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Tales by the Author of All Creatures Great and Small (we have an older version of it.)

Picture Books:
(the images themselves are links to the books, more fun that way for pretty children’s books!)

(I better stop now!)

Board Books:

And finally, there are some good lists in my Amazon bookshop including my favorite books written and/or illustrated by Tasha Tudor, and some of my boys’ favorite chapter books, along with more favorite picture books and more board books.

My previous gift list is here.


  1. I adore children’s books! The James Herriot Children Treasury is very fun! Love Katy No-Pocket and Slinky Melinky.

  2. I have been a complete failure when it comes to companion planting – meaning I have never done it! It is something that I want to learn more about, I will definitely be looking into that book…of course it isn’t a gift…but perhaps a gift for me 🙂

  3. Do you think Karherine might be okay for an older teen? Just wondering how the adultery part plays out. Thank you for a great list! Hope to get to many!

  4. I love book lists! Thanks for sharing! I also read an adult fiction book called “Rebekah” by Orson Scott Card. My mother-in-law bought it for us because that is what we decided to name our daughter. It was about the biblical Rebekah, so I was apprehensive about the liberties I thought he would take. But I must say, the book was great. I highly recommend it! 🙂

  5. My husband is reading books on pig farming right now…and going to see pigs tomorrow….this is in the far eventually we will inherit land from his parents….unfortunately both his brother and sister have unexpectantly passed away in the past three years… he is the only child left…and his brother left a son, but he now lives in Kentucky with his mom….I’d like to get goats…and maybe alpacas….I will be reading that yarn farming book too…a friend has a copy, we met the author at Rhinebeck two years ago….I’ve also read Trafficking in Sheep and Hit by a Farm….

  6. Any book list that features field guides prominently gets my stamp of approval.
    I’m sure you haven’t, but in case you’ve missed it, Tomie de Paola’s “Stega Nona’s Harvest” is AMAZING.

  7. Catherine says:

    I’ve seen you mention graphic novels as a way to get reluctant readers excited about reading for pleasure. Any graphic novel (or other book) suggestions for teens and pre-teens?

  8. Thank you!!!!

  9. “The Reed of God” is quite wonderful. I can remember the exact place and time I read it as a twenty something.
    Your list is so wonderful!! Have you ever tried: The Seven Silly Eaters, or King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub. Funny funny funny. Guaranteed not to fall asleep while trying to read them to your little guys!

  10. I have the HARDEST time picking books for people. Even though I ALWAYS want to give books as gifts 🙂

    Also, Owl at Home was a childhood favorite!!! 🙂

  11. Do you think Katherine would be suitable for a well formed teenager? It sounds fascinating – just wondering about the adultery angle.

  12. Hi Ginny…….I just started reading So Big the other day! Hope I enjoy it as much as you 🙂 Thanks for always sharing such great info with us lucky readers of yours.

  13. Anne Marie says:

    Wow is right! Will bookmark this page for future reference. I love Willa Cather too. Growing up on the central coast of California we read a lot of Steinbeck in school. Now I live in Nebraska so it’s Willa Cather. Have you read anything by Bess Streeter Aldrich? Also a Nebraska author, a priest friend of mine and I both prefer her to Cather, which is saying a lot!

    • I am from Nebraska as well. I read Willa Cather growing up in school and didn’t discover Bess Streeter Aldrich until I was an adult and I, too, prefer her.

  14. jennyann1126 says:

    Wowzers these are such great recommendations. Thanks!

  15. I am a huge fan of giving books as gifts and you are so correct, you can’t go wrong with Beatrix Potter.

  16. Thank you sooo much!! My husband is kind of hard to shop for. Jonny’s book list is perfect! I had to write them down and take them to his bookshelf to compare because he has read so many adventures! Jonny might like In the Kingdom of Ice. Your Kindred Spirit in Idaho, Melanie

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