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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Shhh! Bossy Nonfiction Book Gift Ideas

The Nonfiction Book Gift Ideas

I tend to give nonfiction books for holiday gifts. I'm not sure if it's because it feels easier to hone in on a loved one's particular interest (see: multiple bird books in past gift lists) or quirky curiosity (see: Strange Planet; Gastro Obscura; and Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village, etc.) than to pin down their specific taste in fiction--or to find a novel I feel confident they haven't already read.

These six nonfiction books look like excellent last-minute additions to a holiday gift list if you're still in the market for gifts for your people.

Which books are on your book wish list this holiday season?

You might also like to check out some of the books on my many past Bossy Book Gift Guides:

A Bossy book-buying note: If you're buying books this holiday season, please support your local independent bookstore. They need and appreciate our business! (The book covers on this site link you to Bookshop, a site that supports the beloved indies that keep us swimming in thoughtful book recommendations and excellent customer service all year round.)


01 Dickens and Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius by Nick Hornby

When I first read the premise of this book, I knew I was hooked:

When Prince’s 1987 record Sign o’ the Times was rereleased in 2020, the iconic album now came with dozens of songs that weren’t on the original— Prince was endlessly prolific, recording 102 songs in 1986 alone. In awe, Hornby began to wonder, Who else ever produced this much? Who else ever worked that way?

He soon found his answer in Victorian novelist and social critic Charles Dickens, who died more than a hundred years before Prince began making music.

Hornby explores how these two luminaries from different centuries each "lit up the world" by tracing parallels in their tragedies, inspiration, and prolific creative work.


02 Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way by Kieran Setiya

Kieran Setiya doesn't deny that the human condition can be challenging and that life can be hard.

But in Life Is Hard, Setiya considers the toolbox of philosophy--and how it might help us navigate treacherous times, cope with pain, grieve for those lost, but also stay positive, make new friends, and find meaning in life.

The author focuses largely on ways to make the best of a tough situation, acknowledging that there are no easy answers but that it is possible to live well even when life is difficult.


03 The Last Days of the Dinosaurs: An Asteroid, Extinction, and the Beginning of Our World by Riley Black

Imagine you're in the Cretaceous period, in what will later be known as Montana, with Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops horridus ambling by in the lush landscape. In a few hours, everything around you will be on fire. Half of the world's known species will be eliminated almost overnight.

In The Last Days of the Dinosaurs, Riley Black traces the events of the days, weeks, centuries, and the million years after the destructive meteor's wound that day, imagining life in that place and around the world...and how it set the stage for the environment, creatures, and world we know today.


04 Art Day by Day by Alex Johnson

In Art Day by Day, editor Alex Johnson offers snapshots of important moments in art history, through interviews, accounts, and records from art historians and experts.

From famous paintings and sculptures to comics and murals, from President Teddy Roosevelt's doodles to terracotta soldiers, and with thefts, murders, and mishaps included too, Johnson's Art Day by Day offers unexpected gems from art history.

Perfect for flipping through or referencing, each section has key information, dates, births, deaths, and moments that have shaped our culture and our world of art.


05 The Nineties: A Book by Chuck Klosterman

In the nineties, the Berlin Wall fell, Titanic was a blockbuster movie, Zima was a thing, and Seinfeld was king.

In The Nineties: A Book, Chuck Klosterman explores the pivotal movies, music, events, politics, TV, and culture of the decade.

Klosterman is the bestselling author of eight nonfiction books (including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; Eating the Dinosaur, and But What If We're Wrong?), as well as two novels and a short story collection. He served as the Ethicist for The New York Times Magazine for three years and was an original founder of the website Grantland with Bill Simmons.


06 Waypoints: My Scottish Journey by Sam Heughan


To all who might suggest that Sam Heughan's heartthrob role as Jamie in Outlander or his rugged good looks or charming Scottish accent secured his memoir's spot on this list: How dare you! And also: You are correct!

In Waypoints, Sam Heughan points out places along Scotland's ninety-six-mile West Highland Way that hold special meaning and memories for him. This personal account of his experiences digs into moments that have shaped his life, his goals, and his outlook. While emphasizing his love for the land, he reveals his vulnerabilities and his hopes and dreams.

"I had to believe, because frankly, I had come so far there could be no turning back."


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