Reading lists

Brilliant book gifts that aren’t actually books

From scented candles to puzzles, these gifts are perfect for the book lover who already has too much to read.

Rows of small boxes wrapped in shiny red paper and gold bows, on a pink background, set on top of a green background.
Image: Ryan MacEachern/Penguin

100 Books Scratch Off Bucket List Poster

This is the perfect present for someone who’s working their way through the classics, and wants a fun way to keep track of their reading. This poster features 100 titles, from John le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to Homer’s The Odyssey and Jung Chang’s Wild Swans. To mark a book as ‘read’, simply scratch off the corresponding square to reveal a picture underneath (advent calendar-style). And if you’re looking for a version for young readers, there’s also a children’s books version.

Isokon Penguin Donkey

A book lover is always, always in need of one thing: bookshelves. And the Isokon Penguin Donkey is the perfect gift for your favourite book fan. Designed by Egon Riss in 1939, the compartments of the bookcase were created to be the perfect size to store Penguin paperbacks, and fit up to 80 books. 

The Penguin Isokon Donkey bookshelf in birch, filled with books, on a green floor and black background, with a vase on the ground next to it.

Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Books, was inspired by the Donkey’s design, and inserted 100,000 leaflets for the renamed Penguin Donkey inside Penguin paperbacks. The Isokon Penguin Donkey is available in a range of colours, including the Donkey 1 bookcase in Birch.

Book lovers’ soy candles

Reading is a sensory experience, so gift someone a book candle to help them create the perfect reading environment. Frostbeard’s candles are inspired by characters, stories and a love of reading. General scents include Reading at the Cafe, which smells of coffee and chocolate pastry; Bookstore, which smells of mahogany, leather and coffee; and Old Books, which smells of aged paper and dusty shelves. Candles inspired by books include Sassenach and Sherlock’s Study. All candles are made from 100% soy wax, lead-free cotton wicks, are vegan and come in reusable/recyclable containers.

Limited Edition Print 

The ‘Flying on their Books’ picture mounted on a wall above a baby's cot
'Flying on their Books' designed by illustrator Quentin Blake

Adorn your nursery, your living room or even your library with a special bookish print and support a worthy cause all in one go with this beautiful limited edition piece of art from illustrator Quentin Blake.

In collaboration with the National Literacy Trust, Penguin asked the beloved illustrator to dream up an original piece celebrating the transformative power of reading. The resulting piece, entitled ‘Flying on their Books’, celebrates the way that reading activates our imaginations and transports us into new worlds.

Profits from sales of this print will go to benefit the National Literacy Trust, a charity which is dedicated to improving the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of those who need it most.  

Personalised book stamp

Surely every reader dreamt of having their own library where they could stamp their books so everyone knew who they belonged? Make someone’s dream a reality by getting them a personalised book stamp. You can opt for a classic stamp with an ink pad, or a more modern self-inking stamp (we prefer the old school classic).

Penguin postcards

Penguin postcards fanned in the shape of a rainbow.

For a fun stocking filler, why not gift this collection of Penguin postcards? Each of the 100 cards in the set features a different and iconic Penguin book jacket, collecting together 70 years of design. 

At Home with Books jigsaw puzzle

If you’re after a gift that will provide hours of entertainment (and maybe some frustration) with a satisfying payoff, then a jigsaw puzzle is the way to go. This image of a well-loved library consists of 1,000 pieces, and given so many are book spines, it’ll prove a challenge to even the most accomplished puzzle-solvers.

Ikea RÅSKOG library trolley

If you know a reader who likes to keep their books close by at all times, get them Ikea’s famous RÅSKOG trolley. Sure, it’s technically for the kitchen, but every reader knows that this is THE trolley to get to store books. And combined with the personalised stamp, it would make the perfect gift for readers with dreams of working in a library.

Vouchers from National Book Tokens

Ok, we know this is technically like getting someone books, but it’s also not! National Book Tokens allows you to buy gift cards in a range of amounts, and you can also personalise cards if you want. Sure, the person you’re buying for will just buy books with them, so you’re directly responsible for increasing their to-read pile, but doesn’t every reader really want someone who allows them to buy books without feeling guilty?

Penguin Collection

Penguin Collection Items on a table

Designed from iconic Penguin book covers, The Penguin Collection matches bold colours with everyone's favourite classic titles and are a must-have for every bookworm. From tote-bags that are perfect for carrying your reading material to the ideal notebook to jot down names of all those books you want to read next. 

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