So here we are. It’s December 22, and you still haven’t found the perfect gift for the book lover in your life. What’s a desperate shopper to do?

Your first instinct will likely be to go out and dig up some cute-yet-quirky piece of book-related paraphernalia — a scarf, perhaps, printed all over with the titles of banned and challenged books?

Is this the perfect gift for the reading rebel in your life?

An iPhone case reminiscent of a vintage library card?

Awesome as those may be (and I do find myself suddenly wondering if that iPhone case comes in Android), you can do better.

Using real-life examples from the creative people over at Etsy, I’ll explain.

Less Than Perfect Gift Idea #1: Bookmark

Bookmarks are beautiful . . .

A work of art.

. . . practical . . .

Generally speaking.

. . . and they no doubt seem to the average non-reader like the perfect gift for any book-lover.

Almost any book lover.

But before you buy, there’s something you ought to know.

Two days after receiving your “Wicked Witch of the East” bookmark, your book-lover will have gone back to using a receipt, a folded Kleenex, a piece of junk mail, a tiny scrap of paper, a Bandaid, a pencil, an odd sock, or even another book — anything handy — to mark their place instead, and that clever bookmark will have found its permanent home beneath the couch cushions.

If you’re okay with this, by all means: buy the bookmark. If not, maybe keep looking?

Less Than Perfect Gift Idea #2: Coffee Mug

Based on the Internet, you might assume that everyone who reads books is a total hot-beverage junkie and would like nothing better than a book-themed mug from which to sip a nonfat vanilla latte or ginger peach longevity herbal tea this holiday season.

. . . and also, sipping. Obviously.

Please don’t stereotype us, though. Despite the ubiquity of the books+coffee/tea/cocoa trope, some of us would rather get our caffeine from Diet Pepsi than espresso.

If you can’t be 100% sure that your giftee would rather have an “I like big books and I cannot lie” coffee mug . . .

. . . than a James Joyce hip flask . . .

. . . it’s probably best not to risk it.

Less Than Perfect Gift Idea #3: Decorative Item Made by Destroying a Book

I know you probably think the Paper Book Rose Hair Clip . . .

. . . the Book Art Apple . . .

. . . and whatever the heck this is . . .

. . . are slam dunk gifts for people who love books — but stop, just for a moment, and think first about what your gift actually means.

A vintage (but probably still quite readable) book was destroyed to make that kitsch. It could have been completely unwanted and falling apart, true, but it also could have been an obscure-but-beloved first edition that some bibliophile in New Hampshire has been searching for over decades.

Giving something like this to a book-lover is roughly the equivalent of telling them, “Hey, friend. I heard you love cats, so I got you this awesome pair of hand-stitched kitten-skin mittens! (Oh, and don’t worry: the kittens were strays that nobody wanted, so it’s totally okay.)”

So before you purchase that Tiny Paper Sledge with presents book art ornament, please: think of the kittens.

Less Than Perfect Gift Idea #4: Wearable Book Stuff

“Hello, friend. I’d like to buy you a Christmas gift, but gosh, I’m stumped. What kinds of things do you like?”

“That’s so kind of you! My favorite thing in the world is a good book.”

“A book? Great! Thanks for making my job easy. Here: have some clothing and accessories!”

Hmmm . . . Forgive me if I fail to see the logic behind this gift-giving choice.

Less Than Perfect Gift Idea #5: Scented Candle

I get that some gift buyers just like buying scented candles for every.single.person on their lists, but this is a trifle absurd.

What about just . . . a book?

A novel idea, to be sure!

If your friend is a book-lover, there’s no need to overthink things.

Buy them a book.

Like this one, perhaps . . .

The Right Word? More like The Right Gift!

. . . or this one:

If the book you give is one you’ve read and loved yourself, and you’re pretty sure they’ll enjoy it as much as you did, so much the better.

Merry Christmas.


P.S. In case you hadn’t figured it out already, this piece is meant purely in fun. I would be pretty geeked if anyone bought me any of these clever Etsy items for Christmas — especially the Android version of that phone case, if it exists. That said: I’d be even happier just to get a good book.


Rachel* * *

About Rachel in Review:

Life for this kid lit enthusiast and working mother of four can be messy. Confusing. Painful. Funny. Breathtakingly beautiful.

Enter the Eerdmans books. So, so many of our books, whether they’re bedtime books for babies or coming-of-age novels for young adults, seem to have a single uncannily common quality about them: they just fit. These wise, wonderful books somehow manage to tie into — and by so doing, help me sort out — the knotty complexities of life as I actually experience them.