One of my favorite gifts to give to a friend during the holidays is a bag of new books. I'll make the bag and hand-pick the reads, which are usually a combination of old favorites and recent discoveries, based on what I know of my friend's reading preferences (and this is one of the reasons why I'm so nosy about what everyone is reading.)
Besides snooping through their shelves or TBR pile at home I think the trick to putting together a neat gift bag of books for someone is to consider their personality and really think about their current mood or life situation. Romances are great for a romantic pal, but if at the moment she's going through a divorce you might want to reconsider and give her some humor or light non-fiction. Someone wrestling with depression probably shouldn't read Innocence by Dean Koontz, but A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson might help them see things from a different perspective.
People are most often hesitant to buy books for avid readers, but they're my favorite recipients because they always talk about the books they want as well as the books they've already read. They're also generally more willing than most to try out the first book in a series, and as I'm a series lover I have a long list of favorites in several genres. I also have a few friends of the intellectual/literati persuasion, and while they can be tough to choose for I like the challenge. I often opt for well-written nonfiction or poetry, but I also like to give those that have a working sense of humor some really silly humor books. The smarter they are, the more they probably need a few laughs.
Also, when giving books you love to someone you care about you may accidentally gift them something they've already read. If this happens they may not even mention it, but if they do ask them to pass along the book to one of their friends.
If you're still not sure, here are some of my favorite recs for the book lovers on your holiday gift list:
Anyone in a reading slump will probably enjoy Souless by Gail Carriger, The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu, The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark, Black Ice by Anne Stuart, or All Seeing Eye or Trick of the Light by Rob Thurman.
The thoughtful and philisophical will find much to ponder in At Home by Bill Bryson, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (illustrated by Susan Jeffers), Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart, How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal, or The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Romantics will warm up to Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, The Arrangement by Mary Balogh, A Piece of Heaven by Barbara Samuel, Kill and Tell by Linda Howard or This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland.
Your writer pal will likely appreciate The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell, The Writer's Lab by Sexton Burke, any blank journal by Chronicle Books, A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves or The Pocket Scavenger by Keri Smith.
What books are you giving out as gifts this holiday season? Let us know in comments.