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Finding the Perfect Gift for your Book Loving Friends 2020

Cindy Burnett
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Thankfully, we have finally entered December, and the end of this crazy year is in sight. One positive of 2020 has been all of the amazing books. With the holidays approaching, people have started asking me for book recommendations and suggestions for gifting and whether I was creating this list again. 

My suggestions are grouped by genre or theme to provide guidance to anyone looking for the perfect book for a loved one, close friend, co-worker or even a gift exchange. Many of my selections were published in 2020 so the odds someone already owns them are lower, but some older titles make such great gifts that I have included them too.

cookbook with a Texas connection

A cookbook with a Texas connection, a fun and fact-filled book about cocktails and a comprehensive guide to entertaining will work for anyone on your gift list.

These books will appeal to those who love to entertain and/or cook:

This grouping includes an eclectic mix of entertaining and enlightening non-fiction books: 

  • Everything Beautiful in Its Time: Seasons of Love and Loss by Jenna Bush Hager  
  • Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy by Ben Macintyre
  • Untamed by Glennon Dolye
  • Make Life Beautiful by Syd and Shea McGee 
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A therapist, HER therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson 
  • Talking to GOATs: The Moments You Remember and the Stories You Never Heard by Jim Gray
  • Standoff: Race, Policing, and a Deadly Assault That Gripped the Nation by Jamie Thompson
  • Fossil Men: The Quest for the Oldest Skeleton and the Origins of Humankind by Kermit Pattison
  • Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots by Morgan Jerkins

Several of these books are on my Best 2020 Nonfiction list

Here are some fabulous fiction titles that will make great gifts:

nonfiction titles

An engaging mystery or dishy nonfiction title makes a great gift at the holidays.


  • The Last Flight by Julie Clark*
  • The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
  • A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson*
  • Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden*

Contemporary Fiction:

  • Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel*
  • Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West

Historical Fiction:

  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  • The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai*
  • The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis*
  • The Cold Millions by Jess Walter
  • Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
Arctic by Vincent Munier

Arctic by Vincent Munier is a stunning glimpse at the cold, beautiful northern landscape and its inhabitants.

Books for that hard-to-shop-for individual:

  • Arctic by Vincent Munier (the publisher plants a tree for every book purchased)
  • I is for Illuminati: An A to Z Guide for Our Paranoid Times by Chris Vola
  • The Secret Life of the Pencil: Great Creatives and Their Pencils by Alex Hammond and Mike Tinney
  • Renegade Women in Film & TV by Elizabeth Weitzman
  • American Cheese: An Indulgent Odyssey Through the Artisan Cheese World by Joe Berkowitz*
  • Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous
  • Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway by Michael Riedel  
  • How to Astronaut: Everything You Need to Know Before Leaving Earth by Terry Virts 
  • My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me by Jason Rosenthal*
  • This Is a Book for People Who Love the Royals by Rebecca Stoeker
Cindy Burnett's Holiday Book List

Cindy Burnett's Holiday Book List contains an entertaining conspiracy book, some Houston-specific titles, and some award-winning cookbooks.

These books are perfect for a Houstonian or a Texan:

*I interviewed the authors with the * by their names for my podcast and you can listen here if you want to learn more about their books.

And before I close - shop local! Houston has some wonderful indie bookstores that always appreciate the business (especially in the midst of this pandemic), and they can answer any and all questions about books. If a particular title is not in stock, any of these local bookstores are more than happy to order it for you.

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.

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