Welcome to the first ever Hermine Holiday Gift Guide for book lovers: pandemic-proof edition! With so much talk of supply chain woes, we thought we’d try to help with three easy ideas for giving books this year.

2021 Christmas Book Gift Guide

pictured above, clockwise from top: Victorian Christmas Ghost stories, volumes 1 –  4 (Valancourt Books), The Doll’s Ghost by F. Marion Crawford and designed/illustrated by Seth (Biblioasis), The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada (New Directions), and The Every by Dave Eggers (McSweeney’s).

1. Buy the books in the store

Seriously, just buy the books that are already on the shelves. Your local indie book store is full of hand-selected gems. Think of it as a massive, pre-curated recommendation list. Not sure what to get? Just “buy a bunch of books,” wrap them un-tagged, then turn your gathering into an impromptu white elephant gift swap on the day. The recipients can self-select their gifts, and you’ll learn something about everyone’s preferences for next year.

We took a “buy now, decide later” approach and just strolled through our local shop, filling our arms with whatever struck our fancy, supermarket sweep-style. Then topped up with a set of spooky Victorian Christmas tales from one of our favourite indies, Valancourt Books. Sure enough, we ended up with something for everyone on our list.

Book Ideas for Christmas 2021

pictured above, clockwise from top left: Hunting By Stars by Cherie Dimaline (Penguin Teen), Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (Alfred A. Knopf Canada), Unplugged by Gordon “where would we be without him” Korman (Scholastic), Leave Society by Tao Lin (Vintage).

2. Subscriptions

Honestly, who knows what’s going to happen next at this point. Maybe this year’s gathering is a harbinger of more great things to come, maybe we’re on the cusp of a long dark winter apart. In case it’s the latter, give a subscription and you’ll be dropping a bit of random brightness into someone’s life for the whole year to come.

pictured below, clockwise from top: Taddle Creek, Uppercase (perfect gift for every artist/crafty person you know), Tusaayaksat Magazine (a nominee for Best Magazine in this year’s National Magazine Awards), Hermine (ahem) and Inuit Art Quarterly

Magazine Gift Subscription Gift Guide

And don’t forget back issues! If you’re not keen on waiting for that first issue in a subscription to arrive, your favourite zines and journals are definitely stocked with past copies that you can order for someone today.

3. For the one who already has all the books

So what do you get for the person who you’re pretty sure has it all, book-wise? Here’s a tip: book lovers can never have too many books, and they don’t mind having duplicates, especially if one is a beautiful new edition of a classic. Below are titles (clockwise from top) from the new Penguin Vitae series (definitely still available in stores, design and endpapers by Paul Buckley), Four Corners Books (spend some time on their site, all of their covers look fantastic, this one was designed by John Morgan) and the Penguin Drop Caps Series (cover design by Jessica Hische and Paul Buckley).

Classic Book Designer Editions

pictured above, clockwise from top: Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes, Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, and Butterfield 8 by John O’Hara.