16 giftable books for every reader

You've been asking for a book journal like this for years, and I'm so excited to get it in your hands. I had a lot of fun creating this journal for book lovers—inspired by my conversations with literally thousands of readers over the years about what makes their reading life better—and what doesn't. Tracking the books you read is one of the best ways I know to improve your reading life. My hope is that this journal will help you both articulate your reading taste and broaden your literary horizons, and help you enjoy the process. Bound in a sturdy (and oh so pretty) hardcover, this compact book journal fits right in your tote bag, whether you're going to the library, to school, or to work.
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“I am a storyteller. I go places, I come back. I tell you how the places made me feel.” — Anthony Bourdain. Before he died, Bourdain’s co-author and long-time collaborator Laurie Woolever met with him about this project just once, a meeting she details in the book’s heartfelt opening. Yet she managed to deliver a transporting reading experience in a true travel guide  that combines Bourdain’s stories and travel tips with colorful essays from his friends and colleagues. Vicariously experience Bourdain’s favorite destinations near and far—from Toronto to Tanzania, Manhattan to Myanmar—as Bourdain tells you how to get there, where to stay, and, perhaps most importantly, what to eat. Jam-packed with potential for adventure and exploration.
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This stunning anthology embodies the collaborative spirit it celebrates. “We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” This line from a Gwendolyn Brooks poem serves as the epigraph and guiding spirit of this magnificent collection, which includes essays, poems, photographs, and conversations from fabulous contributors like Michael Twitty, Joy Harjo, Elizabeth Alexander, Margaret Wilkeron Sexton, and Ross Gay. In addition to gathering beautiful poetry and reflective essays, Baszile travelled the country to interview Black farmers, winemakers, and culinary experts about the African American land-owning and farming experience, both past and present. Their wide-ranging and richly varied stories make for life-giving and community-changing reading.
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In his first full-length nonfiction work, poet and journalist Smith explores the legacy of slavery in the United States, and to do so he takes his readers on a tour of sorts, visiting nine physical monuments crucial to that history, like Jefferson's Monticello, the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana, Angola Prison, New York City, and finally Senegal's Gorée Island. Each visit is packed with stories from both past and present, as Smith examines the site's history and explores what that means for us today. It's always dangerous to go into a book with sky-high expectations, as I did thanks to numerous rave reviews from trusted readers, but I needn't have feared: this is a stunner. I highly recommend the audiobook, narrated by the author.
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Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can't imagine life without them. I'd Rather Be Reading leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today.
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Proving nothing and no one is safe from a one-star review, Subpar Parks is a hilarious look at what the grumpiest and most disappointed visitors have to say about national parks. It also includes descriptions of each park and tips like the best time of year to visit. Not all books that started as Instagram accounts are created equal but this one is sure to delight both outdoor enthusiasts and indoorsy souls.
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Like many cooking enthusiasts, we watched the Netflix series A Chef’s Life, “a show about people, place, tradition and family told through the lens of food.” I’ve since checked out some of Howard’s cookbooks from the library. Her newest, filled with simple recipes sounds like a fun project. She’s insistent that she will CHANGE THE WAY YOU COOK, and that makes me want to pick it up. Of course, the emphasis on "simple" is appealing when you're ready to tackle every single recipe. Bonus: more than half the dishes are vegetarian, gluten-free, or both.
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I have long loved illustrator Jane Mount’s work. She followed up Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by partnering with Diverse Spines book community founder Jamise Harper to diversify bookshelves and shine a light on books by authors who are often underrepresented. Richly illustrated, it’s full of bookworm delights like curated book stacks, bookstores owned by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and recommendations from BIPOC literary influencers. It’s a must for your favorite reader’s coffee table.
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What fun to read this early and offer words of endorsement! Here's what I said: "Wise, warm, and relatable, this is the perfect read for anyone interested in exploring how to use their words to deepen their relationships." I'm so glad this is out in the world now so you can read it: I read it SO FAST because I wanted to read the story of it, but the themes and questions have stuck with me for months now.
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A nonfiction book about laundry in the Summer Reading Guide? Absolutely. This conversational guide to a dreaded household chore was the book I didn’t know my reading life—or laundry room—needed in the pandemic era. I find reading about domesticity to be reliably soothing, but in Richardson’s hands, the subject makes for fascinating narrative fodder as well. Who knew? Among his entertaining anecdotes (my favorite being his hero’s account of removing a fresh permanent marker stain from a bride’s gown on her wedding day), Richardson offers practical tips I tried right away: I’ve removed lipstick from ivory cashmere, chocolate and marinara from a beloved white hoodie, and brightened our white bed linens so they look like new. I never expected to find so much satisfaction in doing laundry, but this bright and cheerful book changed my outlook. A perfect gift for myriad occasions.
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Amanda Gorman became a household name as the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. This slim volume is a special gift edition of her poem for President Joe Biden that day.
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A book that is “as messy as life” for those moments when you need a little extra encouragement. In a wide assortment of essays, lists, quotes, recipes, and musings, Matt Haig shares his “life rafts,” the things he turns to for comfort and reassurance when he’s feeling low. As someone who has lived with depression and suicidal thoughts for many years, Haig collects snippets to cling to when it feels like life has thrown him overboard, such as an ode to peanut butter toast, 10 books that helped his mind, or an essay titled “Ferris Bueller and the Meaning of Life,” and shares them here with tenderness and wit. Because it’s designed to be read in any order or manner that meets your needs, it’s the perfect fit for do-as-you-wish summer reading.
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The Best American series is an annual collection featuring notable fiction and nonfiction and special guest editors. I picked up The Best American Essays edited by Kathryn Schulz when I was at Wild Geese Bookshop a few weeks ago.
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