10 Popular Book Lists That Double as Holiday Shopping Inspiration

November 8 2022
Share 10 Popular Book Lists That Double as Holiday Shopping Inspiration

Welcome to gift-giving season, a time-honored tradition with serious stakes. As you likely know, even one poor present performance can haunt you for holiday eternity. But don’t panic just yet, because we’re here to help with book recommendations for everyone in your life.

We’ve devised a list of books that can be combined into book bundles to ensure you cement your status as a “best gift giver of them all.” It’s rarified air, but the readers in your life won’t be able to refute it after receiving a collection of these titles.

For even more gift ideas, check out Simon & Schuster’s Holiday Gift Guide.

Fever
by Mary Beth Keane

For the history buff:

Mary Beth Keane has written a spectacularly bold and intriguing novel about the woman known as “Typhoid Mary,” the first person in America identified as a healthy carrier of typhoid fever. An ambitious retelling of a forgotten life, FEVER is perfect for any history buffs eager to sink their teeth into a work of historical fiction. What’s better, and ideal for a book bundle, is a bunch of historical fiction reads paired with a nonfiction work. Not only will your amateur historian be enthralled by the facts behind the tale, but they will also (hopefully) garner an appreciation for an author’s ability to spin a dazzling tale. It’s the ultimate historical one-two punch, perfect for your next gift-giving opportunity, and we have just the books for the bundle.

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Fever
Mary Beth Keane

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Cocktail Chemistry
by Nick Fisher

For the at-home bartender:

Few attractions signify the holidays quite like seasonal cocktails. And for the bartender at all your family functions who’s looking to lighten the mood and loosen the conversation, there’s COCKTAIL CHEMISTRY by Nick Fisher, a collection of recipes for drinks inspired by pop culture. Plus, while your mixologist is whipping up classic libations from movies and TV, how about a couple of books that pair perfectly with those beverages? If for example you’re making a Manhattan from Sex and the City, you may be in the mood to visit old New York in THE GREAT GATSBY. Our list of popular cocktails paired with fiction works will make for a wonderfully boozy book bundle. 

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Cocktail Chemistry
Nick Fisher

Cocktail Chemistry offers the essential knowledge, techniques, and flair for creating perfectly mixed drinks at home.” —Bartender Magazine

Enjoy clever, pop culture-inspired drinks with this collection of recipes from the beloved Cocktail Chemistry YouTube channel.

Have you ever seen a delicious-looking drink on your favorite movie or TV show and wondered how to make it? Well, now you can, with this collection of recipes from the creator of the popular Cocktail Chemistry YouTube channel Nick Fisher.

Featuring recipes to recreate the classic White Russian from The Big Lebowski, the iconic martini from the James Bond movies, to drinks featured in Mad Men, The Simpsons, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Game of Thrones, The Office, Harry Potter, and more, Cocktail Chemistry will have you impressing your friends with your bartending skills in no time. In addition to recipes, Cocktail Chemistry includes everything you need to know to become a mixology expert, from how to make perfectly clear ice, delicious foams, and infusions, or how to flame a citrus peel. A must-have for all aspiring home mixologists and pop-culture buffs, Cocktail Chemistry will ensure you never have a boring drink again.

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Dangerous Crossing
by Rachel Rhys

For the friend who’s always begging you to do an escape room:

Taking a unique play on a locked-room mystery, we’re told who the murderers are at the start of Rachel Rhys’s DANGEROUS CROSSING, and then the story goes back to the beginning to delve into the characters involved. Lily Shepard boards an ocean liner in England, en route to Australia, to escape a European continent on the brink of war. Aboard the ship, and away from the shadows of her past, she hopes to begin anew while in the company of eccentric, equally troubled passengers. DANGEROUS CROSSING is the ultimate book for lovers of historical fiction and locked-room mystery novels, but if you want to make it a bundle, consider adding a few others with one of our locked-room mysteries—books where characters are forced into a confined space after a crime, knowing full well that the perpetrator is among their ranks, with no means of escape. With the killer combos here, your friend is unlikely to escape from their own room as they devour page after page—and you’ll be the one to thank. 

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Dangerous Crossing
Rachel Rhys

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You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty
by Akwaeke Emezi

For the romantic:

Five years after losing the love of her life, Feyi Adekola is easing back into the dating scene. That is, until a steamy rooftop encounter turns into a whirlwind summer romance. All is well until Feyi meets the guy’s father . . . and is struck with an overwhelming desire that she hasn’t felt in years. YOU MADE A FOOL OF DEATH WITH YOUR BEAUTY is the best kind of book for your own romantic ride-or-die, looking to spend time with complex characters and even more complex circumstances of the heart. And don’t let the emotions stop too soon—with our list of romance reads that will light you up, you’ll have a bevy of books to give to any romantic that will keep them occupied all the way to Valentine’s Day. 

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You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty
Akwaeke Emezi

A New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and “one of our greatest living writers” (Shondaland) reimagines the love story in this fresh and seductive novel about a young woman seeking joy while healing from loss.

Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.

It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.

She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love? ​

Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds.

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The Philosophy of Modern Song
by Bob Dylan

For the music lover:

Any lover of music would be more than satisfied with a book from the great Bob Dylan, but THE PHILOSOPHY OF MODERN SONG is so much more. With over sixty essays on individual songs by other artists, Dylan offers unique analyses and commentary that can also be read as meditations on the human condition. An homage to a musical visionary and Dylan’s desire to continue experimenting with new ways of storytelling, this is an excellent gift on its own, but when supplemented with works of fiction that have their very own dedicated Spotify playlists? Well, then you’re “Sittin’ on Top of the World.” Any music lover will enjoy listening to these corresponding playlists and enhancing the reading experience.

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The Philosophy of Modern Song
Bob Dylan

The Philosophy of Modern Song is Bob Dylan’s first book of new writing since 2004’s Chronicles: Volume One—and since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.

Dylan, who began working on the book in 2010, offers his extraordinary insight into the nature of popular music. He writes over sixty essays focusing on songs by other artists, spanning from Stephen Foster to Elvis Costello, and in between ranging from Hank Williams to Nina Simone. He analyzes what he calls the trap of easy rhymes, breaks down how the addition of a single syllable can diminish a song, and even explains how bluegrass relates to heavy metal. These essays are written in Dylan’s unique prose. They are mysterious and mercurial, poignant and profound, and often laugh-out-loud funny. And while they are ostensibly about music, they are really meditations and reflections on the human condition. Running throughout the book are nearly 150 carefully curated photos as well as a series of dream-like riffs that, taken together, resemble an epic poem and add to the work’s transcendence.

In 2020, with the release of his outstanding album Rough and Rowdy Ways, Dylan became the first artist to have an album hit the Billboard Top 40 in each decade since the 1960s. The Philosophy of Modern Song contains much of what he has learned about his craft in all those years, and like everything that Dylan does, it is a momentous artistic achievement.

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An American in Provence
by Jamie Beck

For the traveler:

Allow Jamie Beck, awarding-winning photographer, to transport the traveler in your life to the South of France in AN AMERICAN IN PROVENCE, an art book, travelogue, memoir, and cookbook all rolled into one, complete with a collection of exquisite photography that will move any reader. But, fair warning, once they have a taste for travel, their wanderlust will only grow stronger, which is why you should consider combining it with immersive international stories that’ll satisfy their adventurous appetite. Allow them to visit places like Italy, Japan, and Turkey, by giving them one (or all) of these novels that will serve as their next stops after a visit to Beck’s France. If you’re lucky, perhaps you will plant the seeds for a real-life trip to an exotic location on your friend’s dime. Here’s to hoping. 

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An American in Provence
Jamie Beck

Let Jamie Beck transport you to the South of France with An American in Provence: part art book, part travelogue, part memoir, and part cookbook, and perfect for art lovers, Francophiles, and armchair travelers alike.

An American in Provence is a beautiful collection of exquisite portrait, scenic, and still-life photography from wildly popular and award-winning photographer Jamie Beck. Looking to slow down from her fast-paced life in New York City, Beck moved to the French countryside documenting her life as “An American in Provence.” What started as a one-year getaway became five as she continues to chronicle her life there through her photography on Instagram @JamieBeck.co, including the birth of her daughter, Eloise, all in the most breathtaking way.

In An American in Provence, Beck shares her tips and techniques for creating incredible photos and details her transformational journey as an artist and woman. Beck also includes farm-to-table recipes she's learned along the way, including Braised Beef Stew, Spring Chicken with Herbs de Provence, Fresh Tagliatelle Pasta with Spring Asparagus, and Lemon Meringue Tart. This stunning visual journey is sure to delight anyone who wishes to escape reality and immerse themselves in life in Provence.

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It Starts with Us
by Colleen Hoover

For the CoHo fantic:

It’s a real thing, trust us. Both within the walls of publishing houses and out, it is not uncommon for people to lose their minds for a new Colleen Hoover book. IT STARTS WITH US, her latest work, follows the protagonist Lily as she navigates co-parenting with her ex-husband Ryle and the reemergence of her first love, Atlas—who just so happens to be the one man Ryle will hate being in his ex-wife and daughter’s life. But one doesn’t just read a single Colleen Hoover book and move on—in fact, we dare say, it would be borderline unethical to give one such emotional book to a CoHort (Colleen Hoover fanatic) in your life. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a complete list of Colleen Hoover-like titles that will help you fulfill your gift-giving obligations with aplomb while also introducing your CoHo fan to other talented authors in the space. 

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It Starts with Us
Colleen Hoover

Before It Ends with Us, it started with Atlas. Colleen Hoover tells fan favorite Atlas’s side of the story and shares what comes next in this long-anticipated sequel to the “glorious and touching” (USA TODAY) #1 New York Times bestseller It Ends with Us.

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Inside Bridgerton
by Shonda Rhimes

For the Bridgerton fan:

Seeing “Author Shonda Rhimes” should do the trick here when convincing someone you’ve gotten them the ultimate gift. That goes double when they’re a Bridgerton fan because Rhimes’s latest work, INSIDE BRIDGERTON, is an intimate behind-the-scenes story of the hit Shondaland series on Netflix. It’s enough to further their love of the groundbreaking show, but it also may awaken an immediate need for historical fiction. That’s when you, gift-giver extraordinaire, pull out one of the selections on our Bridgerton historical fiction list, filled with novels that quench the thirst of any die-hard Bridgerton follower. After that, sit back and allow the praise to wash over you. 

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Inside Bridgerton
Shonda Rhimes

The stunning, full-color, behind-the-scenes look at Shondaland’s hit series on Netflix.

Inside Bridgerton is the intimate behind-the-scenes story of the hit Shondaland series on Netflix. Shondaland executive producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers offer exclusive insights, and introduce you to the series writers, producers, directors, cast, crew, and talented creatives who brought Julia Quinn’s beloved novels to the screen. Full-color and beautifully designed, Inside Bridgerton is the official book about the show, and includes never-before-seen photographs, firsthand accounts on casting, insight into the decisions behind the costumes and sets, directors’ accounts on filming your favorite scenes, and more from the creative minds that launched a cultural phenomenon.

From the Introduction to Inside Bridgerton:
SHONDA: Shall we take everyone back to the beginning? Not to the 1800s, but to 2017 and that hotel room where I was sick, and needed something to read, and there happened to be a copy of The Duke & I by Julia Quinn, the first of the Bridgerton novels. I’m not someone who was into romance novels—I really didn’t even know much about the genre. But I picked it up, couldn’t put it down, and then immediately got my hands on the rest of them because they were a fabulous read. And then I passed them to you.
BETSY: I thought you were high. Or that you had hit your head in that hotel room while you had the flu. Romance novels? But you insisted that they would be a fabulous show and you have excellent taste. I was deeply skeptical because I hadn’t read a romance novel since I was a teen—I’d certainly never read a period romance novel.
SHONDA: Totally—you read the ones of the 1980s, when everyone wore huge shoulder pads and diamonds.
BETSY: Right. So there’s some continuity here because these guys were wearing diamonds, too.
SHONDA: Fair—but as far as a period romance, I mean, if it wasn’t Jane Austen, I didn’t really know about it. I’m not going to diss Jane Austen because I’m not an idiot…
BETSY: She might get upset.
SHONDA: She might roll over in her grave. But Julia Quinn’s novels were just so much juicier than Austen, and they’re written by someone who was far less confined and less proper. After all, Julia is a modern woman, not stuck in the constraints of the age.
BETSY: Without a doubt. And I never knew that the ton existed: Austen wrote about a pastoral society where everyone is in relatively drab clothes and spent a lot of time in chapels and churches.
SHONDA: Totally. And they recycled their dresses more.
BETSY: Meanwhile, this was an amazing world of luxury and excess. And she had this crazy device of a gossip columnist, pulling the strings, which was such a cool concept. Julia Quinn created an entirely new, glamorous, bright world that you had actually never seen before.

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Making a Scene
by Constance Wu

For the one who loves an honest memoir:

You know her from Crazy Rich Asians and Fresh Off the Boat, but there’s far more to Constance Wu than the characters she plays in film and television. As she shares in raw and relatable essays, Constance’s journey to Hollywood success included an evolution on her identity and a reassessment of her influence in the public eye. Like most good memoirs, this book will broaden your perspective and encourage contemplation of your own life story. Bundle it with our recommendations of memoirs that hold nothing back, and you’re not just giving someone a book, you’re giving a new outlook on life, just in time for New Year, New You!

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Making a Scene
Constance Wu

From actor Constance Wu, a powerful and poignant memoir-in-essays.

Growing up in the friendly suburbs of Richmond, Virginia, Constance Wu was often scolded for having big feelings or strong reactions. “Good girls don’t make scenes,” people warned her. And while she spent most of her childhood suppressing her bold, emotional nature, she found an early outlet in local community theater—it was the one place where big feelings were okay—were good, even. Acting became her refuge, her touchstone, and eventually her vocation. At eighteen she moved to New York, where she’d spend the next ten years of her life auditioning, waiting tables, and struggling to make rent before her two big breaks: the TV sitcom Fresh Off the Boat and the hit film Crazy Rich Asians.

Through raw and relatable essays, Constance shares private memories of childhood, young love and heartbreak, sexual assault and harassment, and how she “made it” in Hollywood. Her stories offer a behind-the-scenes look at being Asian American in the entertainment industry and the continuing evolution of her identity and influence in the public eye. Making a Scene is an intimate portrait of pressures and pleasures of existing in today’s world.

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On Writing
by Stephen King

For the aspiring writer:

Do you have a would-be writer in your life? Stephen King’s masterly memoir of the craft, ON WRITING, is an introspective look at the life of a bestselling author and an illuminating guide. Entertaining, educational, and completely accessible, it’s the type of work that will ignite the passion for writing and inspire any blocked writers to immediately pick up a pen. Bundle it with our essential list of author memoirs, which provides several hard-earned lessons that touch on the topic of storytelling. It’s the ultimate gift grouping that has the power to change a writer’s life and work forever. 

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On Writing
Stephen King

Twentieth Anniversary Edition with Contributions from Joe Hill and Owen King

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

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