Gifts for Book Lovers

recommended by Five Books

What gifts are ideal for a book lover—other than books, that is? Here we've compiled a list of some current favourites, with advice on which Kindle or audiobook subscription to buy, as well as highlighting the best noise-cancelling headphones and book journals. It's all you need to keep the book lover in your life happy this holiday season.

The best gifts for book lovers are, naturally, books—and you’ll find plenty of book recommendations on our site for the person who loves history, philosophy, cooking, gardening, etc., or just wants to read the latest books. Nonetheless, there are some other gifts that are really useful for people who love to read. The list we’ve compiled is based on our own research as well as questions we’ve received from readers over the years about how best to consume books.

The Amazon Kindle

Like most people in the world today, we still prefer to read print books rather than electronic versions. But that doesn’t mean an Amazon Kindle (or another e-reader) isn’t vital. There are three situations we’ve found where a Kindle can save the day:

1. When you’re travelling, and you can’t take a pile of books with you, or you take a pile, but you finish them. Because you can download a book wherever there is an internet connection, the Kindle gives you incredible flexibility about what books to read. Gone are the days when you have to be reliant on whatever is on sale in the hotel bookshop.

2. When you need a book immediately. Sometimes for work, or even for leisure, you need or want a book right away.

3. If you share a bedroom with someone who doesn’t read as much as you do. We’ve tried various reading lights and other solutions, but the Kindle still seems to be the best way to read in the dark without waking up your partner or children.

In terms of what kind of Kindle to get, it doesn’t really matter. The cheapest Kindle is just called Kindle, the most expensive is called the Kindle Oasis. The Kindle Paperwhite (pictured) is the midrange choice. The more expensive ones are a bit nicer, but all three Kindle types achieve the goals above, and all now also allow you to listen to audiobooks via Bluetooth. The Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Oasis are waterproof, so it may be worth spending a bit more for one of those if you like reading in the bath or by the pool.

A Subscription to Audible

It’s a golden age for audiobooks, with almost every book published also available in audiobook form and wonderful recordings of classic books being produced as well. Audible, which was bought by Amazon in 2008, is the world’s largest producer of audiobooks, and the range they offer is excellent.

There are alternatives. Some, in contrast to Audible, are free. (For example, LibriVox offers books that are in the public domain, all read by volunteers.) But Audible is very, very good and definitely worth the monthly subscription if you love books.

How best to access your Audible subscription? Newer versions of Kindle all offer the option to listen to books as audiobooks via Bluetooth headphones. You can also listen on your computer, or via an MP3 player (although, to do that, you need to transfer files onto the device). Probably the easiest and most convenient way is to download the Audible app onto your smartphone, and listen that way.

Sony Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones are another important part of the audiobook experience. Most people have a preference for either over-ear or in-ear headphones, so we’ve included one of each type on this list. For book lovers who prefer the cosy feel of over-ear headphones, the best ones currently on the market are the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones. According to the UK consumer rights group Which? (a nonprofit that does extensive tests on all electronic gadgets sold in the UK), “The Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones are the very best wireless pair we’ve ever reviewed. The sound is supremely balanced and engaging, and the active noise cancelling system, at the time of testing, is the best our lab has ever encountered.”

Apple AirPods

You think you know headphones until you get AirPods and you suddenly realise that you’ve been missing out on their amazing convenience and portability. The Apple AirPods are comfortable and discreet, perfect if you listen to audiobooks while exercising, commuting or travelling. They also handle phone calls. As you’d expect, they sync effortlessly with Apple products but also any Bluetooth device (a smart TV, Android device, etc.).

The features we love:

1. Your audiobook or music automatically stops when you remove the AirPod from your ear and restarts when you put it back.

2. You can tap the AirPod to increase the volume or accept a call.

3. They have a comfortable fit and are very discreet.

4. They are great value.

AirPods have elevated the listening experience to an entirely new level. We think you’ll enjoy them as much as we do! 

Note: A new model, the AirPods Pro, is also going to be very popular as a gift this holiday season. AirPods Pro are substantially more expensive, but have some important additional features: they’re noise-cancelling and sweat-resistant. They also have silicone tips, so you can adjust the size.

Reading Journal

If you read a lot, it’s easy to forget which books you’ve read and which you’ve enjoyed. Also, where to jot down those suggestions from friends or colleagues about a book they think you should read? There are quite a few reading journals out there, and what’s readily available differs from country to country. Most of our readers are based in the US and internationally, and our favourite that’s available everywhere is the Moleskine Book Journal. The pages are in alphabetical order (you’ll have to decide how best to order the books, by author or by title) and it’s 8.25 by 5 inches, so very portable.

If you’re Europe-based, there’s a less well-known but more exciting choice, which is the Leuchtturm 1917 Ex Libris Private Reading Journal. Leuchtturm is a high-end German stationer and a lot of thought has gone into the layout of the journal so that it’s specifically tailored towards book lovers. It’s a small size notebook (A5) so, again, it’s highly portable. It’s available in English, German and French, and in different colours.

Do you have any other suggestions? Please write to us (editor@fivebooks.com), as we’re always on the lookout for good reading-related gadgets and stationery.

Five Books aims to keep its book recommendations and interviews up to date. If you are the interviewee and would like to update your choice of books (or even just what you say about them) please email us at editor@fivebooks.com

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