10 Book Gifts Under $20 For When You Forgot The Secret Santa Present

Last Christmas was the first major gift-giving holiday that my boyfriend and I celebrated together, and I was curious to see what he would pick out for me. I slowly unwrapped my gift to find nestled inside... a sweatshirt featuring the original cover art for Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I was ecstatic. A nerdy literature-based gift! How did he know?

Of course, that was a silly question. Book lovers have a really hard time keeping our enthusiasm for our favorite activity (reading) to ourselves, so our loved ones know us well enough to know that we'll be all about book-themed gifts. They just may not know what kind of book gift to get us. I love getting or giving actual books for Christmas, but there's only so much room on my bookshelf, and I'm sure you're no better. So how about a little variety?

But we don't always have the cash to shell out for a first-edition of our favorite book, or sometimes our family, friends, and partners put price restrictions on the gifting so we don't go holiday overboard. And there's always that forgotten Secret Santa exchange at work or with your cousins that somehow slipped your mind in the holiday madness. For that, you need last-minute inexpensive gifts everyone will love. And for that, we turn to bookish gifts.

Hint hint, parents, sister, and boyfriend: I want like a million of the Old Books candles!

1. Old Books-Scented Candle

Book Lovers' Soy Candle in Old Books, $14, Etsy

As any book lover knows, there's no better smell in the entire world than the musty pages of an old book. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I haven't yet succeeded into turning my apartment into one big library full of deliciously old-smelling books. In the meantime, I'll have to cheat by lighting a bunch of these Old Books-scented candles around my place. Plus, this Etsy shop has a bunch of other cool literary-themed candles too!

2. Literary Temporary Tattoos

Moby Dick Temporary Tattoo, $5 for a set of two, Litographs

Let's be real: You've definitely thought about getting some kind of literary tattoo, if you don't have one already. But tattoos are a big commitment. Just because you're digging Sylvia Plath right now doesn't mean you won't wake up on Monday and realize that e.e. cummings had your heart all along. So give yourself a trial run with these fun temporary literary tattoos before you go get yourself some actual ink (they have other options besides Moby Dick, but how cute is that whale?).

3. Hogwarts Alumni Sweatshirt

Hogwarts Alumni Sweatshirt, $20, Etsy

A little something for all of us whose acceptance letter must have gotten lost in the mail. If you're tired of repping your actual school pride, throw on your Hogwarts shirt to let everyone know where you really belonged. Strangers might look at you funny, but fellow Potterheads will be quick to compliment you and ask you which house you were in, obviously.

4. Kurt Vonnegut Coffee Mug

Breakfast of Champions Mug, $12, Out of Print

Perfect for fans of Kurt Vonnegut, coffee, and breakfast. Remember that the only proper way to use this cup is to fill it up with coffee and sarcastically say, "breakfast of champions" to your roommate, partner, or cat. Bonus points if you use this cup for your morning martini instead of your coffee, as Vonnegut would have wanted.

5. Lord of the Rings Laptop Decal

Lord of the Rings Decal, $9, Etsy

There are a million ways to show off your Lord of the Rings pride. You can start insisting on eating elevenses, or refuse to speak in anything but Elvish. Or, if you want to take the easy way out, you can slap this cool decal on your laptop. Now when an assignment is due and you feel like procrastinating, you can look at this image and think, "If Frodo can make it all the way to Mount Doom, I can at least get this finished in time."

6. Literary Tea Bags

Novel Teas, $13, Uncommon Goods

If you like tea and you also like a good pun, have I got a gift for you. Each bag of English Breakfast tea has a quote from a famous author attached. If you're in a rush in the morning and can't get any reading time in, take a moment of comfort in the words of one of your favorite writers. If you do have a little time to spare, let the tea bags inspire you to pick up the author they suggest.

7. Library Catalog Card Print

Pride and Prejudice Library Card Print, $12, Etsy

I love, love, love this print. Designed to look like an old library catalog card, this print gives you the author, title, original publisher, and first and last line from Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice. Fans of Austen, libraries, or books in general will love hanging a piece like this around their house. (This site has prints of other books available as well. If someone wants to pick me up the Peter Pan one, that would be great, thanks.)

8. Book Worm Ring

Book Worm Ring, $10, Amazon

Say it loud, say it proud. Sure, some people want diamonds or precious stones, but I like jewelry that gives others a sense of my personality. So if you're tired of people asking you what you did this weekend, or if someone asks you what you do for fun, just flash this ring at them. They'll rightly assume you spent all of your time reading, and will hopefully leave you alone to continue reading in peace.

9. Sherlock Holmes Throw Pillow

Sherlock Holmes Pillow, $20, RedBubble

If your Sherlock withdrawal is getting really bad, have you tried actually picking up the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories? The lack of Cumberbatch is depressing, but the actual Sherlock Holmes tales are a lot of fun and should tide you over until we finally get new episodes. The design on this pillow is made up of Sherlock Holmes story titles, which makes it great for reading recommendations AND showing off your love for our favorite detective.

10. William Shakespeare Cookie Cutter

William Shakespeare Cookie Cutter, $7, Etsy

If you're a reader and a baker, like me, you're probably freaking out over this amazing cookie cutter. Seriously, I need this RIGHT NOW. Why have I wasted the last 25 years of my life making regular, boring cookies when I could have been making Shakespeare cookies? Just picture yourself rolling up to your book club with some chocolate chip Shakespeare cookies, or sending your kid to school with enough sugar cookie Shakespeares for the entire class. Bonus: they also make cookie cutters of Jane Austen, Chaucer, and Edgar Allan Poe!

Images: Ermin Celikovic/Unsplash, Etsy (5), RedBubble, Amazon, Uncommon Goods, Out of Print, Litographs