100 books like The Perfect Gift

By Rohan Henry,

Here are 100 books that The Perfect Gift fans have personally recommended if you like The Perfect Gift. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Why am I passionate about this?

You’ve got to root for the underdog, right? And there’s no bigger underdog than fictional villains. While real-life criminals are doing very nicely, thank you very much, in fiction, the bad guy is screwed from the start. What could be more relatable than knowing on a bone-deep, existential level that you’ve already lost? And what could be more heroic than stepping out onto the field of play knowing that no matter how hard you play, you’re still going down? Keep your flawed anti-heroes; they’re just too chicken to go over to the losing side. I’ll cheer for the doomed bad guy every single time.

Sam's book list on characters who do unforgivably terrible things but still somehow end up the hero

Sam Tobin Why did Sam love this book?

I flit between literary fiction and crime fiction. I like my highbrow, all second-hand Penguin Modern Classics, and my lowbrow, all-half-inch-thick, pocket-sized books with photos of weapons on the front. But Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is that rare beast of a bona fide literary writer doing a proper genre piece.

Janina Duszejko is an elderly, retired academic living alone in the middle of the wintery, Polish countryside. Alone but not lonely, surrounded by nature, astrology, and William Blake’s words, the book captures that beautiful, haunting quality of solitude and the compromises it brings. It also captures that slow, burning anger of someone who has long ago stopped caring what anyone else thinks.

Sure, there’s a murder plodding along in the background, but I was almost disappointed when it was solved because it meant leaving Janina and her Polish wilderness.

By Olga Tokarczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones (translator),

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD, Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Olga Tokarczuk returns with a subversive, entertaining noir novel. In a remote Polish village, Janina Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. She is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she's unconventional, believing in the stars; and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, Duszejko becomes involved in the investigation. By…

Book cover of Everything Sad is Untrue (A True Story)

Andrea Christenson Author Of How Sweet It Is: A Deep Haven Novel

From my list on when you’re in the mood for food.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an aspiring foodie and a huge lover of books with a great food subplot (or main plot!). I’ve been known to read cookbooks for fun and probably the most thumbed book in our house is my copy of The Joy of Cooking. I’m a firm believer in reading books at the lunch table and that no book should be read without a cup of coffee and a cookie (at the minimum) near one’s elbow. Hopefully you find these books to be as drool-worthy as I did!

Andrea's book list on when you’re in the mood for food

Andrea Christenson Why did Andrea love this book?

Okay, as a middle grade novel, this one may seem a little strange to have on this list, but bear with me.

The protagonist, Khosrou, tells the story of his Iranian family stretching back decades. Woven throughout the story are descriptions of the foods they enjoyed, many of which, as refugees to America, they cannot find anymore. Several times throughout this book I turned to the internet to tell me how to make something Daniel Naveri described.

A beautiful book that also contained more about using the bathroom than I ever expected!

By Daniel Nayeri,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Everything Sad is Untrue (A True Story) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

At the front of a middle school classroom in Oklahoma, a boy named Khosrou (whom everyone calls "Daniel") stands, trying to tell a story. His story. But no one believes a word he says. To them he is a dark-skinned, hairy-armed boy with a big butt whose lunch smells funny; who makes things up and talks about poop too much.

But Khosrou's stories, stretching back years, and decades, and centuries, are beautiful, and terrifying, from the moment his family fled Iran in the middle of the night with the secret police moments behind them, back to the sad, cement refugee…

Book cover of The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Jessica Pierce Author Of The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the End of Their Lives

From my list on thinking differently on human-animal relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

What does it mean to live a good life in a world shared with a multitude of other beings? I’ve spent my career exploring this question, in both my personal and my professional life. In my work as a bioethicist, I’ve researched and written about how to integrate environmental values into health care and medical research; how to think through (and survive) caring for a companion animal who is nearing the end of life; and why keeping pets is ethically problematic. My most current project—in collaboration with my canine companion Bella—is about ethics in human-dog relationships.  

Jessica's book list on thinking differently on human-animal relationships

Jessica Pierce Why did Jessica love this book?

Bailey’s book is about a friendship (one-sided perhaps) between a woman and a snail. She describes her growing affection for a woodland snail who is trapped inside with her during a long illness. Although Bailey isn’t offering commentary on pet-keeping, her book suggests a compelling alternative to loving animals—especially creatures we bring in from the wild—by making them into our pets. She shows us how to encounter another creature with curiosity, wonder, and respect.

By Elisabeth Tova Bailey,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While an illness keeps her bedridden, Elisabeth Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence in a terrarium alongside her bed. She enters the rhythm of life of this mysterious creature, and comes to a greater understanding of her own confined place in the world. In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, she shares the inspiring and intimate story of her close encounter with Neohelix albolabris - a common woodland snail.

Intrigued by the snail's world - from its strange anatomy to its mysterious courtship activities - she becomes a fascinated and amused…

Book cover of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers

Bobby Palmer Author Of Small Hours

From my list on talking animals for grown ups.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a British author who has always had a fascination with magical realism and novels that blend the serious with the strange. For that reason, though I write literary fiction for adults, I take so much of my inspiration from children’s literature. There’s something so simple about how kids’ books stitch the extraordinary into the every day without having to overexplain things. I now live not far from the forest that inspired A. A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood, and my latest novel is set in and inspired by this part of rural England–with all the mystery and magic that a trip into the woods entails.

Bobby's book list on talking animals for grown ups

Bobby Palmer Why did Bobby love this book?

In this claustrophobic modern classic, a grieving father and Ted Hughes scholar finds himself haunted by an oily, unnerving, anthropomorphic crow.

I’m a fan of anything Porter writes, but his debut is deserving of the indelible mark it’s made upon the modern literary landscape. The crow is a character like no other, and Porter’s poetry brings this strange and beautiful bird to life.

By Max Porter,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Grief Is the Thing with Feathers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Winner of the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize and the Sunday Times/Peter, Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year award and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Goldsmiths Prize.

In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother's sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness.

In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow - antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This sentimental bird is drawn to the grieving family…

Book cover of The Gift of Nothing

Barron Steffen Author Of The Final Gift of the Beloved: Her Disappearance-13 Days

From my list on spirituality for life's purpose and grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

Without my longtime commitment to the spiritual path of Siddha Yoga, I am quite sure that I would never have even met my wife Seana for I would not have been ready for her, let alone survived the trials along the way. And I certainly would not have been able to meet the calamity of her sudden death and come to know it as something else entirely. I have discovered the most strange and wonderful thing—that hidden within the death of a loved one may also be her final gift to us. And this is what I wish for you—in your moment of greatest need, though the world feels shattered into a thousand shards—may you remember this possibility and fully receive what the beloved longs to give you in farewell.

Barron's book list on spirituality for life's purpose and grief

Barron Steffen Why did Barron love this book?

The Gift of Nothing, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell, happens to be one of my absolute favorite books. Nestled like a rare bird in between Captain Underpants and Star Wars at a book sale in an elementary school cafeteria, I made a gift of it to my wife, Seana, and in time the story of Mooch and Earl grew into a cherished part of ours as well.

Mooch (a cat) is looking for the perfect gift for her best friend, Earl (a pooch). She wonders, What do you get someone who has everything? It dawns on her. Nothing! So, after looking everywhere for nothing and not finding it, she finally gets a really big empty box (because it was a lot of nothing). When Earl opens it, he declares, “There’s nothing here!” “Yesh!” says Mooch. “Nothing ... but me and you!”

By Patrick McDonnell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gift of Nothing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mooch the cat desperately wants to find a gift for his friend - Earl the Dog. 'But what do you give the guy who has everything?' Mooch wonders. The answer, of course, is nothing! This simple story features characters from one of the world's most successful comic strips - Patrick McDonnell's Mutts. With the same warmth and charm that he brings to the daily cartoon McDonnell's delightfully spare illustrations and simple text have created a book with the makings of a classic - perfect for gift-giving all year round.

Book cover of My Penguin Osbert

Howard McWilliam Author Of Just SNOW Already!

From my list on illustrated stories packed full of snow.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved snow for as long as I can remember: a childhood enthusiasm which has not dimmed one bit in adulthood. When those flakes flutter silently from the sky I feel a thrill just like an eight-year-old getting the day off school, a feeling that I try to convey in Just Snow Already! I adore snow scenes depicted in art and children’s illustrations when that magic is transferred to the page… and unlike the real thing, you can enjoy it with a hot drink and warm toes. 

Howard's book list on illustrated stories packed full of snow

Howard McWilliam Why did Howard love this book?

One reason I love snow so much is the way it muffles the world, making everything soft and fuzzy around the edges.

The essence of that feeling is distilled perfectly in Lewis’s beautifully-lit pastel and pencil illustrations, squeezing so much colour into every inch—even of “white” snow.

It’s a lovely story about a little boy taking responsibility for his action. I love a children’s book with a final illustration that undercuts the sentimentality of any preceding message, and this does that hilariously.  

By Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, H. B. Lewis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Penguin Osbert as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

When Joe asks Santa for a real live penguin, he gets Osbert and a whole lot more than he bargained for - including creamed herring with seaweed jam for breakfast and cold baths!

Book cover of Construction Site on Christmas Night

Dawn Young Author Of Once Upon a Christmas

From my list on fun and festive Christmas pictures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write funny picture books. Since some of my best memories include reading to my kids while they were plopped in my lap, giggling at silly, fun picture books, I want to bring that same joy to families everywhere. I’m in awe of clever humor, and I’m especially fond of wordplay, puns, and jokes. Of all the holidays, Christmas is my favorite. The tree, the décor, and the traditions bring so much merriment. When my kids were young, reading Christmas books was a huge part of our holiday. Once Upon a Christmas gave me the chance to write a humorous, fun, and festive story that families can enjoy together.

Dawn's book list on fun and festive Christmas pictures

Dawn Young Why did Dawn love this book?

Construction Site on Christmas Night is part of the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site series and my favorite of the set. The cover, with its snowy and festive scene, immediately sparks the Christmas spirit. The illustrations continue to keep the Christmas spirit alive throughout, from red-rimmed tires and candy cane drums to ornament-like wrecking balls and a red and white fire crew. I love rhyming picture books, and this one does not disappoint. The clever couplets and smooth rhythm make it a joy to read. What’s especially great about this book is how after all the fun and surprises, the story ends on a tender note. This book is both fun and sentimental.

By Sherri Duskey Rinker, AG Ford (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Construction Site on Christmas Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site series. More than two million copies have sold across the series!

Created for lovers of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, as well as fans of Sherri Duskey Rinker's storytelling and AG Ford's art, this beautiful holiday picture book shows Excavator, Bulldozer, Crane, Dump Truck and Cement Mixer building a new home for fire engines. As they finish their big, important job, they get their own Christmas surprises. Your kids will have fun discovering the special surprise awaiting each vehicle as much as they will love rhyming along…

Book cover of The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property

J. Baird Callicott Author Of American Indian Environmental Ethics: An Ojibwa Case Study

From my list on American Indian worldviews and ecological wisdom.

Why am I passionate about this?

After “the environmental crisis” came to popular attention in the 1960s, American Indians were portrayed as having a legacy of traditional environmental ethics. We wanted to know if this were true. But how to gain access to ideas of which there is no written record? Answer: analyze stories, which have a life of their own, handed down from one generation to the next going all the way back to a time before European contact, colonization, and cultural, as well as murderous, genocide. And the stories do reveal indigenous North American environmental ethics (plural). That’s what American Indian Environmental Ethics: An Ojibwa Case Study demonstrates.

J.'s book list on American Indian worldviews and ecological wisdom

J. Baird Callicott Why did J. love this book?

Before there was money, people bartered one kind of stuff they had in abundance for another kind that they needed (or wanted). That may be true, but little appreciated in our market-oriented Western worldview, there was once an even older gift economy.

The Gift, among other related topics, explores the gift economy, which characterized the lifeways of many American Indian peoples. Hyde provides the key to understanding many of the stories in our book.

Hunters are portrayed as “visiting” the lodges of beavers, moose, and bear. They come bearing gifts that only humans can create through artifice or cultivation: knives and tobacco, for example—things much prized by the animal recipients.

In turn—but not necessarily in return—the animals give the humans their flesh and fur. The bones are their somatic souls, which should not be broken, but returned to the element from which they came—earth or water—to be reclothed in flesh…

By Lewis Hyde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discusses the argument that a work of art is essentially a gift and not a commodity.

Book cover of Santa Claus Worldwide: A History of St. Nicholas and Other Holiday Gift-Bringers

D.W. Boorn Author Of The Big Secret: The Whole and Honest Truth About Santa Claus

From my list on Santa Claus and his history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was such a die-hard fan of Santa Claus as a kid, my mom had to debunk the myth two years in a row! Because, yeah, I heard you, but surely that was a bad attempt at humor last year. I won’t lie. It was traumatic. I wrote this book as a way to ease kids into the knowledge without anyone in the family feeling bad about it. It puts a great positive spin on this childhood rite of passage and empowers kids to get the info when they’re ready for it.

D.W.'s book list on Santa Claus and his history

D.W. Boorn Why did D.W. love this book?

If you’re into investigating the origins and mythos of Santa from other cultures, this is the book to find. It is a well-researched look at the international history of the legend from the pagan god Odin to the present day Father Christmas, Weihnachmann, Père Noël, Ded Moroz, and Santa Claus. While not for young children it is a great and thorough historical study of the evolution of the various legends through time. A must for history buffs with great illustrations and documentation.

By Tom A. Jerman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Santa Claus Worldwide as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a comprehensive history of the world's midwinter gift-givers, showcasing the extreme diversity in their depictions as well as the many traits and functions these characters share. It tracks the evolution of these figures from the tribal priests who presided over winter solstice celebrations thousands of years before the birth of Christ, to Christian notables like St. Martin and St. Nicholas, to a variety of secular figures who emerged throughout Europe following the Protestant Reformation. Finally, it explains how the popularity of a poem about a "miniature sleigh" and "eight tiny reindeer" helped consolidate the diverse European gift-givers into…

Book cover of The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World

Davis Baird Author Of Thing Knowledge: A Philosophy of Scientific Instruments

From my list on how the things in our world get made and work.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am not very good at making things. I am good enough to appreciate the craftsmanship of those much better than me. I am more of an ideas person, perhaps why I ended up with a PhD in Philosophy of Science. But I have always held a secret admiration—with a tinge of envy—for people who are makers. As I went deeper into my career as a philosopher of science, I became aware that the material/making aspect of science—and technology—was largely ignored by ideas-obsessed philosophers. So, this is where I focused my attention, and I’ve loved vicariously being able to be part of making the world.

Davis' book list on how the things in our world get made and work

Davis Baird Why did Davis love this book?

Initially, The Gift might seem an odd choice for this category. Hyde argues that art must be part of a gift economy, not simply commercially bought and sold, but also given and received. I had a chance encounter with Hyde’s father, who was appropriately proud of his son’s book, but he said that he thought the same analysis could be made about how science operates.

This idea changed my perspective on science and technology. When I began to look at science and technology this way, it made sense to me. Scientists will frequently trade what they have learned with each other, for example at conferences—they give their information away in exchange for prestige and for return gifts of information from other scientists. It is part of being a member of the science club.

By Lewis Hyde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A manifesto of sorts for anyone who makes art [and] cares for it.” —Zadie Smith

“The best book I know of for talented but unacknowledged creators. . . . A masterpiece.” —Margaret Atwood

“No one who is invested in any kind of art . . . can read The Gift and remain unchanged.” —David Foster Wallace

By now a modern classic, The Gift is a brilliantly orchestrated defense of the value of creativity and of its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money and overrun with commodities. This book is even more necessary today than when it first appeared.…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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