The Book Gifts That Even Booksellers Want for the Holidays

When books are your job, the last thing you're likely to put on your holiday wish list is another book. I can speak from experience, and so can the staffers of the great Strand Bookstore in Union Square, New York. (Have you ever been? They have books for miles. 18 of them.)

But sometimes, there are exceptions — books that are so good, even someone who spends her days surrounded by walls and walls of books wants, even needs to own. 2014 has been a great year for bookstore-dwellers, so I wanted to know: What books are so gift-worthy this season that even a bookseller would want 'em?

Eight fantastic ladies and gents from The Strand gave me a peek at the top pick on their holiday book wishlists. Take a cue for your own gifting — or get some ideas for yourself.

Image: scatto_felino/flickr

Lisa J., Design and Merchandise Manager

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

“Once Upon an Alphabet offers 26 short stories dedicated to every letter of the alphabet. And in all honesty, why shouldn’t there be? These letters work hard for us every day and they deserve a story of their own. I hope someone gives me this book for Christmas because Oliver Jeffers is my most favorite artist and illustrator around today and I can’t wait to give these letters and characters from this book a permanent home on my bookshelf.”

Steffanie O., Associate Merchandise Buyer

Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

“I have loved Alan Cumming since I was a girl and watched Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (if you haven’t seen it, please do). I cannot wait to delve into the life of one of my favorite actors.“

Emily S., Events Director

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

“Hilarious and fascinating, Caitlin’s book is equal parts memoir and anthropological rumination on the one thing in life we’re all guaranteed to experience: death. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes incorporates personal experience of the author’s time working in a California crematorium, studies of death treatment in communities from around the globe, and classic texts like Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Dying for a satisfying look at a too-often closeted topic. Perfect for the curious reader.”

Miguel S., Visual Merchandise and Staff Picks Coordinator

Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini

“This holiday I’m asking for the Codex Seraphinianus so I can get lost in it all through the new year!”

Brianne S., Marketing Manager

Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton

“This Christmas, I’m asking for Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton. I loved Gabrielle’s memoir Blood, Bones, and Butter and was so inspired by her unlikely journey from prospective journalist to chef of one of NYC’s greatest restaurants that I decided to pick up my own spatula and get started in the kitchen. I’m dying to make some of her dishes from Prune in my kitchen!”

Jane K., Rare Book Room Manager

“Rookie Yearbook Three by Tavi Gevinson, aka The Style Rookie! I wish this series had been around when I was a teenager because it would have made navigating the waters of adolescence a lot more fun and way less confusing. Each book has articles on life, fashion, music, and pretty much everything else (and sometimes even stickers!). This book is perfect for any feminist-in-training in your life.”

Cale H., Main Floor Manager

Adam by Ariel Schrag

Adam is the funniest, sweetest, smartest, most empathetic book I’ve read this year. Ariel Schrag is some sort of feelings wizard, managing to write a number of very different characters voices in a completely convincing fashion. As I read I lost count of how many times I knew exactly what Adam, an awkward, 17-year-old, completely confused boy was feeling. When reading Adam I couldn’t stop smiling, cringing, laughing, and hoping. This is a book that feels like it absolutely had to be written. Easily the most charming book I’ve read in a very long time and probably the best book I’ve read this year. Bravo.”

Sky F., Bookseller

Little Big Books: Illustrations for Children’s Picture Books edited by Hendrik Hellige and Robert Klanten

“I’m asking for Little Big Books: Illustrations for Children’s Picture Books edited by Hendrik Hellige and Robert Klanten — it’s a perfect gift because it’s absolutely gorgeous with its bright red cover and lush illustrations, and it’s something I’d never think to buy myself. It’s full of beautiful images from books you’ll wish you had read as a child!”