10 Great Books for the Nonreaders on Your Holiday Gift List


If you’re a reader, you understand. For the holidays, all you want is a stack of books, so sometimes it can be hard to figure out what to get for your less literary-minded loved ones. Well, you can still give them books. But you have to choose carefully. Just as we did last year, this holiday season we’ve put together a helpful guide of new books that even your most prose-averse friends will love — whether they admit it to you or not. Click through to check out the gift guide, and let us know what you’re giving the nonreaders on your list in the comments.

Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm, Philip Pullman

Come on — everybody likes fairy tales. And even the staunchest nonreaders among us know them. We guarantee that if you get them to give this stellar new edition a chance, it will eat them whole. In a few weeks they might be asking to borrow your copy of The Golden Compass, which is another gift all in itself.

The Graphic Canon Vol. 2, ed. Russ Kick

All the world’s canonical literature — with pictures! And not just any pictures. There’s something in here for everybody, interpretations of poetry, plays and novels rendered in dark, ominous blacks or bright bubbly cartoons, and everything in between. True, each graphic interpretation gives you only a snatch of the piece of literature it represents, but sometime that’s all it takes. Your nonreader will be able to battle the English majors in no time.

Pantone: 35 Inspirational Color Palettes

Not everyone likes books, but everyone likes color, right? This one’s sort of cheating, because it’s shaped more like a fan of cards than it is like a book, but hey, we’re counting it. After all, it’s pretty much guaranteed to brighten up anyone’s day — and maybe their apartment.

Swimming Studies, Leanne Shapton

Swimming Studies is a brilliant memoir by a competitive swimmer turned artist that you can feel good about giving to anyone. But you can especially feel good about giving it to your nonreading friends. “There are pictures!” you will say, pushing the pretty book forward. Just don’t let them see your triumphant grin.

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Deb Perelman

If your beloved is into food, you might try the newly-released Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, the product of a popular blog that has been one of our go-to cookbooks in its own right for quite a while now. Perelman’s good-natured, charming commentary makes everything sound more delicious. And it’s already pretty delicious.

Let’s Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition, Lesley M. M. Blume

If you’re gifting a drinker, not an eater (and one with a sense of humor to boot), we suggest this little tome, subtitled “A Compendium of Impish, Romantic, Amusing, and Occasionally Appalling Potations from Bygone Eras.” Occasionally appalling? Sounds like fun to us.

Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant To See, Françoise Mouly

You don’t have to be a big reader to appreciate this wonderful book, a collection of axed New Yorker covers and artwork, from the scandalous to the downright offensive.

How Music Works, David Byrne

This is one of the biggest music books of the year, so if your favorite person is of the “I don’t have time to read, I have ten new albums to listen to!” variety, we bet they’ll appreciate it. Plus, it doubles as a pillow.

Get Jiro!, Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose, with art by Langdon Foss

An alternative choice for your favorite foodie: this Tarantino-esque graphic caper set in a future LA where master chefs rule with an iron fist and people are literally killing each other to get a seat in the best restaurants. We know. But it totally works.

Building Stories, Chris Ware

If you haven’t thought of this one already, we may have to count you among the nonreading elite. By far the biggest comics/graphic novel release of the year, Building Stories isn’t even really a book — or at least, it’s not just one book. It’s a box of puzzles and narrative and wonderful illustrations that even the most mathematical-minded among your friends will enjoy piecing together and following around in circles.