Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×
Search
Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

14 Book Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your List

Find fantastic nonfiction reads on music, history, travel, inspired living and more

December Books
National Geographic / Knopf Publishing Group / MIT Press / Ten Speed Press / Harper Design

A book can be the perfect present, as long as you keep in mind the recipient’s passions and personality when making your selection. Our 14 picks below, all released in 2022, are likely to appeal to many on your holiday gift list — whether they’re film fans, art lovers, royals watchers, happiness seekers, home bakers, traveling foodies, skywatchers or history buffs.

Creativity and the arts

December Art Books
Celadon Books / Knopf Publishing Group / MIT Press

Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions by Steve Martin

The multitalented comedic entertainer relays anecdotes about his hobbies (banjo playing, for one) and experiences making iconic films such as The JerkDirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Martin, 77, writes that while creating the last, he and costar John Candy “ad-libbed so much that the film reel ran out.” It’s a charming, lighthearted memoir, illustrated comic-strip style by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss.

The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man by Paul Newman, written with David Rosenthal

You don’t have to be a huge Newman fan to find this posthumous memoir/biography fascinating. Compiled in part from the acting legend’s own writings, it’s stunningly revealing, full of expressions of self-doubt, regret and uncertainty from a man many still view as an icon of cool masculinity. The actor’s goal, he wrote, was to “leave some kind of record that sets things straight, pokes holes in the mythology that’s sprung up around me.”

In the Black Fantastic by Ekow Eshun

For a unique gift, consider this gorgeous book — an illustrated interpretation of Black culture through wildly imaginative art and photography from across the world, broken up into themes like “migration” and “liberation,” by British writer and curator Eshun. It’s meant to emphasize that “there is no finite criteria or barrier to what being Black looks like,” Eshun has said. The book is based on a recent high-profile exhibition of the same name at London’s Hayward Gallery that Vogue called “the must-see exhibition of the summer.”

Entertainment

AARP Members Only Access to Special Entertainment Content

Access curated AARP entertainment articles, essays, videos, films and more

See more Entertainment offers >

Inspiration and self-help

December Self Help Books
Penguin Life / Algonquin Books / Ten Speed Press / Harper Design

Inciting Joy by Ross Gay  

The award-winning poet and author of 2019’s best-selling The Book of Delights offers a new collection of lyrical and insightful personal essays about love, family and finding happiness. They include weighty topics such as the death of his father, but the core of the book is his premise that “joy and pain are fundamentally tangled up with one another.” Or, Gay asks, “what if joy is not only entangled with pain, or suffering, or sorrow, but is also what emerges from how we care for each other through those things?”

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Guided Journal by Lori Gottlieb

Gottlieb, author of the best-selling memoir about her therapy practice, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed, and cohost of the popular Dear Therapists podcast, offers a new companion journal to her 2019 book, structured in 52 sections meant to mirror a year of weekly therapy sessions. They include prompts to encourage reflection and insight for what she predicts will be “a life-changing conversation with yourself.”

Kurashi at Home: How to Organize Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life by Marie Kondo

The author of the 2010 mega-hit The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up explores the joy that can be found beyond a decluttered house, whatever one’s income, by identifying and adopting kurashi, or “the ideal way of spending our time.” She believes that understanding and prioritizing what truly makes you happy will help guide you in creating tranquil spaces throughout your home.

The Love Prescription: 7 Days to More Intimacy, Connection, and Joy by John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman

The authors, who’ve been married for more than three decades, are clinical psychologists who’ve spent their careers studying love and relationship issues. Their new guide is an easily digestible distillation of their wisdom into “bite-sized” weeklong action plans for partners hoping to deepen their bonds. One key takeaway? Love is not about grand gestures (“It’s not John Cusack standing outside your bedroom window with a boom box,” they write) but about “little things done often” — predictable ways of connecting that you can design together and can count on. 

History and biography

December History Books
Thorndike Press Large Print / Knopf Publishing Group / Little Brown and Company

Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II by Robert Hardman

Royals watchers will want to dive into this weighty portrait of the long-reigning late queen, detailing royal scandals, diplomatic triumphs and leadership challenges over her seven decades on the throne. Released last spring, it’s one of the most recent well-regarded biographies of the queen. One reviewer said to “consider it to be Her Majesty’s definitive biography.” Alternatively, there’s The Life of Charles III by Christopher Andersen, who wasted no time in producing the first major biography of Charles, 73, since he took the throne in September. 

Our America: A Photographic History by Ken Burns, with Susanna Steisel, et al.

You’ve seen the compelling photos that piece together Burns’ documentaries; this is a collection of some of the most evocative ones. Taken together, they’re meant to capture both the historic and the everyday moments in America’s evolution — “the story of ‘us,’” as he puts it — from 1839 onward. 

The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams by Stacy Schiff  

If you have a history lover on your list, consider this biography of one of the country’s most influential founding fathers: Sam Adams — a man who, according to Schiff, “was a perfect failure until middle age.” The Pulitzer Prize–winning author explains that Adams had few accomplishments before age 41, when his skill as a wordsmith helped stoke the revolutionary fervor of his fellow rebels that eventually led to American independence.

Food and travel

December Food Books
Bloomsbury Publishing / National Geographic

Food Journeys of a Lifetime Second Edition: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe by National Geographic

This fully revised version of the hunger- and wanderlust-inspiring 2009 tome takes readers to the spice markets of Marrakesh, the 228 Michelin-starred restaurants of Tokyo, and where to find the most delicious pasta in Italy, mouth-watering beef in Argentina and fantastic Swiss wine. It’s also illustrated with the kind of beautiful photos you’d expect from National Geographic.

Bake: My Best Ever Recipes for the Classics by Paul Hollywood

The incredibly popular Great British Baking Show’s cohost and judge is tough; for the contestants, getting a handshake from the handsome taster with the piercing blue eyes is like winning an Oscar in the other Hollywood. Fans can bake like him (or at least try) by following the recipes in his latest book for treats like Victoria sandwiches, sausage rolls and sourdough bread. Find Hollywood talking all about baking and sharing three recipes from the book on Members Only Access.​

member card

AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

And more

December Books Other
Ten Speed Press / National Geographic

Emily Post’s Etiquette, The Centennial Edition by Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning

The great-great-grandchildren of Emily Post revisit her classic advice and thoroughly update it for the modern age — which may make this a great gift for the young people in your life. Timely topics include texting etiquette, navigating awkward encounters and how much to tip your rideshare driver. Etiquette, they emphasize, isn’t just about how to behave at fancy dinner parties; more importantly, it’s about treating others well with “acts of kindness, patience, compassion, awareness, and thoughtful behavior.”  

Stargazer’s Atlas: The Ultimate Guide to the Night Sky by National Geographic

Amateur and expert skywatchers alike will appreciate this comprehensive keeper, thick with seasonal sky maps for the Northern and Southern Hemispheres; advice on the best spots for star viewing around the globe; maps and charts of moons, planets and constellations; stunning photos, and more. 

Join AARP to continue reading

Find exclusive interviews, smart advice, free novels, full documentaries, fun daily features and much more — all a benefit of your AARP membership — on Members Only Access.

Join AARP for Members Only Access

Already a Member?