Books that Make Beautiful, Inspirational Presents

A book is not a mere object. A book is a conversation, a memory, and a world unto itself. If you’re trying to come up with a perfect gift for someone—a gift that will still mean something to them years down the road—the right book may be a perfect choice. Books don’t just grow the mind. They grow the spirit. Interested in a book that would make the perfect gift? Here are some ideas of books that are packed with staying power.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The majesty of If I Stay is that it speaks to so many different audiences. One part coming-of-age-story, one part romance, stretched against a choice between life and death—between staying behind and moving on—If I Stay is the sort of book that will have you up debating it for nights after reading it. The romance between cellist Mia and her rock-star boyfriend creates a modern Romeo & Juliet dynamic. Pairing this book with a personalized guitar pick would make an unforgettable present for a music-lover in your life.

Girl in a Cage by Jane Yolen

Political divides today are so strong that they almost feel new. Reading Girl in a Cage is a reminder that these conflicts have existed for hundreds of years—and that despite them, there are always good people in the world willing to do what needs to be done. A historical fiction novel about the kidnapped daughter of King Robert the Bruce of Scotland, this book is an easy read that will leave a lasting impact with the feminist, activist, or humanitarian in your life.

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Tense and intriguing, House Rules is written from the point of view of five different characters, one of whom ends up on trial for murder. The kicker? He’s a teenager on the autism spectrum disorder. The other viewpoint characters include his mother, his younger brother, his lawyer, and the police officer investigating the case. It’s the sort of book where every character has a good point, some of the characters are not reliable narrators, and you don’t know whose side you’re on, even when you put the book down. Because of the vast gray area in the book, it’s a perfect gift for anyone who works where the lines are crisp and clear, from lawyers to teachers.

Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh

When Sudhir Venkatesh was in grad school studying sociology, he chose to do his master’s thesis on gang life in urban Chicago. What started off as a simple interview delved into a sociological study in which Venkatesh found himself more and more immersed in gang life. The book calls into question everything that you thought you know about poverty, money, drugs, and gangs, while also highlighting moral and ethical dilemmas of sociological research. It’s a great book for anyone pursuing a higher degree or anyone interested in trying to “help” impoverished areas or cultures they don’t know first-hand.

When you choose to give out a book as a gift, you’re choosing to impart a little bit of heart and soul on another person. The best way to give a book is to give one that has meaning to you and that will also have meaning to the perfect receiving it. Sticking a post-it note on the book with your favorite quote from it or the biggest epiphany you had when reading it will make it feel that much more heartfelt to the person receiving it.