An alternative gift guide: Stocking thrillers

Juliette Bowen 10 December 2016

Although for some Christmas may feel like a hollow, consumerist construction (just me?!), the idea of giving gifts to those you love and having them deeply enjoy them is a great feeling, no matter your level of cynicism. Out of all the gifts I’ve ever received, books are definitely up there as some of the most genuine and lasting – so here is a list of cheap, unique, and interesting volumes which would be perfect for any booklover’s stocking.

For the thinkers and the thoughtful

Penguin’s ‘Great Ideas’ series have a large number of small, fairly cheap volumes which contain essays from some of the most thought-provoking authors. From George Orwell’s sparkling Books v. Cigarettes to Seneca’s enlightening On The Shortness of Life, these volumes provide a concise immersion into some of the world’s most interesting ideas, in a rapidly consumable format which is perfect for those looking for a short, inspiring escape from the seasonal chaos. The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura is another lovely, engaging, educational book which details the Japanese tea ceremony and provides an insight into its history, throwing light on other elements of Japanese culture whilst doing so.

For the bookworm and the bestie

For those more intimate friends it can be difficult, yet also somewhat essential, to think of a genuinely thoughtful gift. If they happen to really love a certain author, artist, or thinker, finding published copies of their journals or letters is a great option, providing something unique to their interests which they will hopefully genuinely love. Some personal favourites in this area include Sylvia Plath’s collected correspondences, named Letters Home, which was assembled posthumously by her mother Aurelia, and Oscar Wilde's Oscar Wilde: A life in letters, writing and wit. (Both of these can be found on AbeBooks for less than £2, so are a wonderful and ridiculously economic way to show someone you care about them.) Penguin’s new collection of twenty ‘Pocket Penguins’ are also a perfect small gift for a book-loving friend. They are literary classics, small and simply bound, which are super convenient for whacking out between lectures. 

For the whimsical and word-shy

The New Ghost by Rob Hunter is a hauntingly beautiful graphic novel about a ghost who experiences the afterlife for the first time. The book is short, melancholic and sweet, with fantastic illustrations and colours. Books with a bit of DIY to them can also be utilised for drawing you out of the post-dinner haze of festive television and facilitating the avoidance of vacation reading. Colouring books are great for this purpose and the Dream Cities volume is especially good for escapism.