The Zen Habits List of Perfect Books for Perfect Gifts

Post written by Leo Babauta.

I intended to do a “Zen Habits Gift Guide”, full of frugal and green gifts that I like, typical of the gift guides you see everywhere at this time of year.

Then I revised the post to show ways to avoid consumerism — to give no gifts, or to give experiences instead of crap that will clutter people’s lives, to give consumables and hand-made things. But the post took too much research and I got lazy.

So here’s my third attempt at a post on gifts. This is exclusively on books, because, hey, books are one of the best gifts you can give, and you can even find them used sometimes if you’re trying to be frugal and green. Or give ebooks, which I personally love, and they’re usually cheaper and use far less resources than print books.

I’m listing some of my recommendations below, but this is not an endorsement to go consumerist crazy and get into deep debt. I cheerfully call bullshit on that great tradition. Remember, giving doesn’t have to cost a ton of money, and you don’t need to fall for the corporate propaganda. Be better than that.

That said, here’s a list of stuff you can spend your money on, many of them published by corporations. Enjoy, in the spirit of reading and knowledge and love.

1. My book. I would be remiss not to mention my print book, The Power of Less, partly because it helps me to pay the bills around here, but also because I think it’s a good gift for anyone who is looking for some simplicity in their life. And who isn’t, these days? The Power of Less will help your loved one to take control of a life that’s become too much, to simplify information streams and to-do lists, to form good habits in the face of previous failures, to declutter a home and workspace filled with junk.

Buy it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Borders, or an independent bookseller near you.

2. Ebooks. Ebooks are great because they aren’t printed on dead trees, and if you buy one of mine, you can buy them once and give copies to many. Here are ebooks I offer for cheap:

3. Awesome novels. You can’t go wrong by giving a novel as a gift. The novel has an unquestionably magical power to transport the reader into new worlds, and that is both necessary and unmatched in today’s world of technology. I could give a long list of a couple hundred excellent novels I’d recommend, but I’m going to limit myself to a handful that I read or re-read this year, and absolutely loved.

4. Personal development books. Also known as “self-improvement books”, these are popular this time of year as people look to change their lives for the better. There are lots of books I could recommend, but I’m going to highlight just a few:

5. Even more books you’ll love. Some of my other posts on books:

For other books that I recommend, see the Zen Habits bookstore on Amazon link. I get a small cut from each sale made there. In fact, if you click through and buy other products from Amazon (not just the books I recommend), I will get a cut. So feel free to click through and buy anything you like from Amazon, if you were planning to buy it anyway. Don’t buy a bunch of useless products just for me.