Holiday Gift Guide: What do you give a book lover?

Holly Bailey
National Correspondent
The Lookout

Buying clothes is tricky, and gift cards are a little boring. So maybe you've decided to gift someone in your life a book for Christmas. But guess what: Figuring out what a book lover might like can be difficult, too. So we asked some well-known authors and bibliophiles to tell us what's on their holiday gift list this year:

Lorin Stein
Editor, The Paris Review
"I can't pretend to keep up with new books--I don't even try--but this year a few leapt off my desk and refused to be put down. Gabrielle Bell's graphic memoir "The Voyeuers" got me through a sad rainy Thursday evening as if I'd just made a friend. Karl Ove Knausgaard is the Proust of the Walkman generation; the first volume of his magnum opus, "My Struggle," kept me up late for a week and remains the best novel I read all year. Maureen McLane's "My Poets" was the continuing ed. class I needed in poetry but never expected to love. Everything I know about gospel music I've learned from Anthony Heilbut's compilations and writings; thanks to his crazy compendium "The Fan Who Knew Too Much," he has now, also, taught me everything I know about radio soap operas, Aretha Franklin, and homosexuality in the black church. All by itself, David Foster Wallace's essay on David Markson makes "Both Flesh and Not" the best book ever written on David Foster Wallace (plus, it's written by David Foster Wallace), and Masha Gessen's 'The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin" is the darkest, bravest, and wittiest biography I read this year. Finally there was John Jeremiah Sullivan's "Pulphead." I knew all the essays already, but reading them all in one place was so much fun I've done it a few more times since then."

Sloane Crosley
New York-based writer
and author of "I Was Told There Would Be Cake"

The "Ideal Bookshelf" by Jane Mount is a beautifully voyeuristic gift for anyone who's ever foisted their favorite book on friends or spent a strange amount of time organizing their own shelves by genre or color or affection.

Robert Draper
GQ contributor and author of "Do Not Ask What We Do: Inside the House of Representatives"

"A Frolic of His Own"
by William Gaddis is the last great novel by one of America's most brilliant 20th-century writers, is a Hieronymus Bosch-like portrait of our litigious society and--let's be honest--a novel to test book lovers. It's long and it's wildly unconventional (though accessible by Gaddis's standards), with cacophonous dialogue and lengthy incursions into legalese. But because the language is so mesmerizing, the voices so acute (and hilarious, and sad) and the characterizations so humane, Gaddis effectively detonates the reader's preconception of what a novel can be. Nearly two decades after I first read "A Frolic of His Own," I still remember its crazed architecture, its casual literary riffs, its ungainly yet exquisitely differentiated cast of characters, its sheer American audacity...and there's no other book I've cared as much about since."

Laura Miller
Senior Writer,,
and contributor to the New York Times Book Review

'The single greatest gift I would give any book lover is the Levo Book Holder. Sometimes the only thing standing between a fervent reader and full-time immersion in her beloved books is arm fatigue and neck cramps. With this stand, which supports and holds open all but the heaviest volumes, you can read in a chair, in the tub, lying flat on your back in bed (this is great for pregnant women on bed rest), on a treadmill, basically anywhere, hands-free, at any angle you like. My neck and shoulders used to be a mass of knotted muscles after a typical four-hour reading binge, but no more!"

Esther Newberg
Longtime New York literary agent and former aide to Robert F. Kennedy

"Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust" for the cooks on your list. Ina's recipes work well for good cooks and marginal cooks. And David Von Drehle's "Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America's Most Perilous Year." It focuses on 1862, a critical year. Von Drehle gives great insight into the stress Lincoln was under, and his incredible ability to get in his way."

Emma Straub
Brooklyn-based writer
and author of "Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures"

"Do the book lovers in your life buy the newest tomes before you get the chance? Maybe they need a t-shirt from Brooklyn indie bookstore WORD that proclaims their love for the written word. Best of all, it comes in baby sizes too, so they're fun for the whole family!"