The 10 Best Books to Gift Book Lovers in 2023

Discover books the reader in your life would love to add to their library.

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Every occasion or holiday can be made better by the gifting of books. Birthdays? Christmas? Hanukkah? New Year’s Day? Festivus? You name it and giving or receiving books will improve it. 

There are so many works out there, desperate for you to read them, so picking one mere title to give to your loved one (or yourself, we won’t judge) can be a nigh-on impossible task. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of ten wonderful books that would be perfect to wrap up and gift for that special person in your life. 

so late in the day

So Late in the Day: Stories of Men and Women

By Claire Keegan

Celebrated for her powerful short fiction, Claire Keegan was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize and has won numerous awards over the past two decades. So Late in the Day is compiled of three stories which, when read together, form an examination of gender and its ever-changing dynamics. 

In “So Late in the Day,” Cathal faces a long weekend as his mind agitates over a woman with whom he could have spent his life, had he behaved differently. In “The Long and Painful Death,” a writer’s arrival at the seaside home of Heinrich Böll for a residency is disrupted by an academic who clashes with him at every turn. And in “Antarctica,” a married woman travels out of town to see what it’s like to sleep with another man but becomes the object of a possessive stranger's obsession.

The Blood of My Mother

The Blood of My Mother

By Roccie Hill

After the deaths of her white father and mixed-race mother, young Eliza is left without a family, without a home, and no direction for her future. She escapes a group of slavers, marries, becomes a mother, and realizes her dream of having a small farm. But she must fight and kill to keep it. 

America is still a young country and Texas an ever-changing and expanding frontier. There are few laws out here, and outcasts like Eliza are easy targets. She and her community must find the strength to survive and carve a path for their descendants.

Her First American

Her First American

By Lore Segal

Published in 1985, Lore Segal's Her First American was celebrated by the New York Times as coming “closer than anyone to writing The Great American Novel.” Ilka Weissnix has recently arrived in the United States, eager to see the "real" country outside of the immigrant communities of New York City. 

Boarding a train heading West, she meets Carter Baoux, a Black poter who, to Ilka, exemplifies the values and cultures of a changing America. She latches onto Carter, hoping to find the true America through his world, which includes bouts of depression and an alcohol problem. But Carter’s ghosts are ever present, and soon Ilka finds herself torn between saving him and saving her own future.

The Kings in Winter

The Kings in Winter

By Cecelia Holland

First published in 1968, The Kings in Winter is considered by many to be one of the best historical novels of its time, and the prolific author Cecelia Holland was celebrated by the Historical Novel Society magazine for her "unique ability to make most any historical period her own." 

Set in the 11th century, The Kings in Winter follows the Danush invasion of Ireland and battle for the throne. High King Brian Boru's power is challenged by the Danes who hope to make the Irish land their own. All through a long winter of strife, Muirtagh O'Cullinane struggles to balance his loyalty to his clan with his own honor, and with the Battle of Clontarf on the horizon, there are many would-be kings of Ireland hoping to be the last one standing.

the frozen river

The Frozen River

By Ariel Lawhon

In the winter of 1789, the Kennebec River in Maine freezes over, entombing a man in the ice. Martha Ballard, the local midwife and healer, is called upon to examine the body and figure out the cause of death. She knows that this man in the ice is one of the men accused of a violent rape that occurred four months earlier. 

While Martha is certain she knows what happened the night of the assault, she suspects that the two crimes are linked, and that there is more to both cases than meets the eye. Over the course of a long, hard winter, Martha must discover the truth, even if it threatens to tear her family and community apart.

the curse of penryth hall

The Curse of Penryth Hall

By Jess Armstrong

In the first book in a planned series, debut author Jess Armstrong introduces the world to Ruby Vaughn, an American heiress who opened a rare bookstore in Exeter after the Great War. It's the perfect place for a woman like her to forget the past. When Ruby is forced to deliver a box of books to a folk healer living deep in the Cornish countryside, however, she is brought back to the one place she swore she’d never return. 

In Penryth Hall, home to Ruby’s once dearest friend, Tamsyn, and her husband, Sir Edward Chenowyth, Ruby is confronted by the errors of her youth and terrifying dangers that could put her life at risk. Edward has been gruesomely murdered and it's up to Ruby, as well as a local curse breaker named Ruan, to fix things before someone else ends up dead in the orchard.

day, a book to gift 2023


By Michael Cunningham

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham is best-known for The Hours, which was adapted into an Oscar-winning movie and a celebrated opera. His latest novel, Day, published this year, looks into our very near past to follow a family during quarantine.

In 2019, the seemingly idyllic lives of Dan and Isabel, husband and wife, begin to crumble. Both are a little bit in love with Isabel’s younger brother, Robbie, who lives in their attic loft. Their son Nathan is taking his first uncertain steps toward independence, while Violet, their five-year-old daughter, tries to ignore the family problems. As COVID-19 takes over and the world goes into lockdown, the family home becomes a prison they won't be able to fully leave for at least a year. When the world finally reopens, will they be able to go back to normal or will things be too different to ever return to the status quo?

the wildest sun

The Wildest Sun

By Asha Lemmie

Following her New York Times bestselling debut Fifty Words for Rain, which was chosen for the Good Morning America book club, Asha Lemmie turned to the world of postwar Paris for her sophomore effort. 

The Wildest Sun follows Delphine Auber, an aspiring writer on the cusp of adulthood, whose life is struck by unexpected tragedy. She decides to use this moment as an opportunity to embark on a long-fantasized journey to find the father she's never known. Delphine believes that her dad is none other than the iconic author Ernest Hemingway. She desperately yearns for his approval, as both a daughter and a writer, convinced that he holds the answer to who she's truly meant to be. 

But what will happen if she is wrong? The answers take her from Paris to New York, Cuba, and Florida, and the truth ends up being far more complicated than her imagination could have ever created.

The Rose of Martinique

The Rose of Martinique

By Andrea Stuart

Just in time for the release of Ridley Scott’s long-awaited epic historical drama Napoleon, check out this work of nonfiction that details the upbringing and rise to fame of the general's much-obsessed over wife Josephine Bonaparte. She was born Rose de Tasher on her family's sugar plantation in Martinique, and rose all the way to the position of empress of France, but her journey to the top was fraught and almost ended with her facing the guillotine. 

Rescued from near starvation, she grew to epitomize the wild decadence of post-revolutionary Paris and was as powerful as her husband, who worshipped her beyond compare. She's so fascinating a woman that she really deserves her own film!

the end of the world is a cul de sac

The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac: Stories

By Louise Kennedy

Irish writer Louise Kennedy presents this collection of short stories where the political and the personal are irrevocably intertwined. Each piece looks into how seeming ordinary people can have their lives uprooted by wider national issues. 

Orla, facing the strange revenge of her husband, is forced to judge a contest in the local fête. Peter raises his daughter as a recluse in the countryside, preparing for the end of the world that might already be here. Sarah cannot celebrate moving into her brand new house as her partner has abandoned her. While the set-ups may be bleak, Kennedy's work is full of dry humor and piercing observations.

Featured image via Unsplash / Mel Poole