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 good books. Nonetheless, there are some other gifts that are really useful for people who love to read. The list I’ve compiled is based on my own research and experience as well as questions I’ve received from readers about how best to consume books.
The Amazon Kindle
Like many people in the world today, I 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. In terms of what kind of Kindle to get, it doesn’t really matter: they all get the job done. The cheapest Kindle is just called Kindle (pictured) the most expensive is called the Kindle Oasis. The Kindle Paperwhite is the midrange choice. This year, Amazon is also bringing out a Kindle Scribe, which you can write on (but costs more). The more expensive ones are a bit sleeker and have additional bells and whistles, but they’re also a bit bigger. One selling point for the pricier options: they’re 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. All Kindle types now allow you to listen to audiobooks via Bluetooth.
Moleskine Book Journal
If you read a lot, it’s easy to forget which books you’ve read and which you’ve enjoyed. There are quite a few reading journals out there, but our favourite is the Moleskine Book Journal. It’s very nicely done, and includes a slipcase. The pages are alphabetized (you’ll have to decide how best to order the books, by author or by title) and each book entry has its own page. On it, you fill in details like ‘title,’ ‘author,’ ‘date read’, ‘original language,’ ‘awards, ‘notes,’ ‘thoughts and impressions’ and ‘memorable quote.’ The journal is 8.25 by 5 inches with 350+ pages, enough to keep even the most avid reader going for at least a year.
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. The app is easily downloadable onto a smartphone. A subscription to Audible is the gift I’ve given my mother-in-law for her birthday this year, as she travels a lot around the UK for her work, and what better way to spend three hours in the car than listening to a book?
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 worth the monthly subscription if you love books.
If you’re listening while commuting or going for a walk, earphones are an important part of the audiobook experience. If money is no object, the AirPods Pro—whether the latest model or the previous one—are often recommended. Personally, I find the quality of the Anker Soundcore Life P2i Wireless Earbuds excellent. I use them while running and see no reason to upgrade to a more expensive pair.
If you 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.” (Note: the newer model, the Sony WH-1000XM4 does not get as high a rating). They’re expensive, though.
Addicted readers suffer from the same problem as insomniacs, we’re awake when everyone else is asleep. One of the big advantages of a Kindle is that you can read it in the dark without disturbing anyone. When I’m reading a print book, however, that’s not much help. I’ve experimented with a wide range of reading lights, and the best I’ve come across is the rechargeable Glocusent Round Neck Reading Light. Because it sits on your shoulders, you’re not having to fiddle with a clip or other device to get the light onto the right page. It’s useful not only for reading but any task for which you need extra light but can’t hold a torch in your hand. The downside of this reading light, I’ve found, is it doesn’t attract the most flattering comments from family members: ‘you look like a character from Star Wars‘ etc. etc.
Do you have any other suggestions? Please write to us (firstname.lastname@example.org), as we’re always on the lookout for good reading-related gadgets and stationery.
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