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Our Favorite Sentimental Books We Gift Year-Round

Design: theSkimm | Photos: Harmony, HarperOne, Harper Perennial
November 14, 2023

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From books of poems to funny memoirs to children’s stories we come back to as adults, these are our favorite reads for when we’re experiencing times of change, heartbreak, happiness, or just need to remind ourselves of the joys of everyday life. We’ve also gifted these time and time again to the ones we love as a way to let them know our lives are better with them in it. Cue the happy tears.


“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy

Birthday, graduation, new baby, you name it, we’ve given this book for it. It’s the inspirational story of how a boy, a mole, a fox, and a horse become unlikely friends and face life together. It has lessons that apply to everyday life and beautiful illustrations. People who have received this book from us say they find themselves going back to read it over and over. It was also turned into a mesmerizing short film you can watch here.

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Atria Books

“Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life” by Cleo Wade

If we have opened this book by bestselling author and poet Cleo Wade once, we have opened it a thousand times. It features life lessons and advice on how to deal with heartbreak, grief, happiness, and all the emotions in between. We love gifting this to friends and family, whether they’re going through a hard time or not. Once we read, “Hearts break. That’s how the magic gets in,” we knew we’d never be the same.

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Thomas Nelson

“Life's Little Instruction Book” by H. Jackson Brown

A perfect gift for all occasions, including graduation, weddings, and birthdays, this book reminds us to savor every little moment life has to offer. With advice like “Drink champagne for no reason at all” and “Ask for a raise when you feel you’ve earned it,” you’ll find everything from practical lessons to bucket list items. It makes a great coffee table book or something to leave out for guests to leaf through.

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“Heartburn” by Nora Ephron

If you love Nora Ephron’s romantic comedies like "Sleepless in Seattle" and “When Harry Met Sally,” you need to read her comic novel. It reads like the diary of a cookbook writer, Rachel, who finds out her husband is having an affair — even though she’s seven months pregnant. You’d think it would be impossible to make such a heartbreak funny, but Ephron does it. Between Rachel’s wit and her interspersed dessert recipes, this novel is enough to heal a broken heart.

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“Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life” by Cheryl Strayed

From the author of “Wild,” this book is the compilation of the advice column Strayed wrote under the pseudonym Sugar at the online publication The Rumpus. It features some of the best tough love advice we’ve ever read with Strayed weaving in tales from her own life that make it instantly relatable. Gift it for a birthday and be prepared to be thanked endlessly.

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Chronicle Books

“Things to Look Forward To” by Sophie Blackall

From writer and illustrator Sophie Blackall, this gorgeous book features 52 illustrated joys, like taking a hot shower and drinking a cup of coffee in the morning. It reminds us of all the good in our lives, even if we’re going through a hard time. We love giving this book to people going through tricky transitions, like new moms and recent graduates, or anyone who could use a little extra joy in their life.

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Algonquin Books

“The Book of Delights: Essays” by Ross Gay

This book collects a series of essays the writer and poet Ross Gay wrote during a difficult year. He continually reminds us to appreciate the small things, all while relating the experience of being a Black man in America. What sets this book apart is Gay’s appreciation of the natural beauty of the world, which makes it a perfect pick for the gardener or explorer in your life.

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“Remember Love: Words for Tender Times” by Cleo Wade

Cleo Wade’s new book is a deeper exploration of the matters of the heart and dives into Wade’s own experiences with depression, anxiety, and heartbreak. She teaches us how to sit with uncomfortable feelings and give space to them in our lives. Reading this one feels like a warm hug, and we love that you don’t necessarily have to start at the beginning. Opening somewhere in the middle and reading a comforting page every night is the best way to drift off to sleep.

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Faber & Faber

“The Joy of Small Things” by Hannah Jane Parkinson

A compilation from the writer’s column in The Guardian, this book proves Parkinson is an expert at the little joys of life and devotes chapters to things like petting cats and clean bedding. Between the adorable cover and the reminder of just how precious life is, we can’t think of an occasion we wouldn’t gift this for.

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Harper Wave

“100 Ways to Change Your Life” by Liz Moody

This journalist spent years interviewing doctors and scientists on how to have the best life possible. She interviewed psychologists on exactly how to sprinkle each day with joy and scientists on whether there are actually things we can be doing to extend our lives. It’s a great tip-a-day read, and offers comfort in the knowledge that there are small things we can control in our lives when so much seems out of our control.

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Random House Books for Young Readers

“Oh, the Places You'll Go!” by Dr. Seuss

It’s a classic for a reason. It’s the perfect gift for new beginnings and reminds us at all ages that we can make it through hardships and uncertain times. We love bringing this book to a baby shower with a personal note on the inside cover the child can read as they grow up. It may technically be a children’s book, but we’ll never get tired of reading it at any age.

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Harper Perennial

“Everything I Know About Love: A Memoir” by Dolly Alderton

Dolly Alderton recounts everything from bad dates to falling in love to going out with her girlfriends in this deeply funny account of her life. It features chapters that are lists of everything she knows about love at different points in her life, which we find ourselves going back to over the years. She also writes about conquering her fear of turning 30, which makes it a great birthday gift for those in their 20s.

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The Dial Press

“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle

Both a pick for Oprah’s and Reese’s Book Clubs, this memoir details Doyle’s struggle with discontent and ultimate awakening to her own happiness. It’s an incredibly empowering read and is a great gift for any woman in your life. We continue to go back to it when we’re having trouble trusting our own intuition and deciding on next steps in our life.

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