When I was growing up, every birthday my parents gifted me books. I envied other children for gifts that are more ‘fun’ at the time, but I was forever blessed with the memories of the stories my parents gifted me, and I am grateful for that.

This valentines day, instead of sending your loved-ones flowers that will decay sooner or later, why not give them the forever — books.

For the curious

Do they love to look up at the sky and wonder about the universe? The Cloud Collector’s Handbook will give them something to look at. This fun book catalogs different kinds of clouds for readers to spot and record their finds. A new car game for road trips!

For the kick-ass

Do they love outdoor survival or self-defense? This survival guide from a retired Navy SEAL covers topics from how to build a room hide to how to steal a plane. These are adapted from actual special forces operations so not all are useful if you are not Jason Bourne, but it sure is a fun read!

100 Deadly Skills

For the boss baby

Are they leading a team, and maybe are a bit bewildered? If so, you need to have them read Kim Scott’s Radical Candor. This book is based on Kim’s experience working at companies like Google and Apple, imparting wisdom on how to be an effective leader, a good boss. She summarises it in two words, radical candor — care personally but challenge directly. This read might just be what it takes to take your loved ones’ career to the next level.

Radical Candor

For the science fiction lover

If they love science fiction, stories that are out of this world, you cannot go wrong with Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read before, unique, quirky, otherwordly, captivating. The story takes readers through a maze, figuratively and literally. It doesn’t follow any generic science fiction plot, meaning it will be a pleasant surprise for them.


For the makeup obsessed

If they buy tons of makeup like collectibles (guilty), take them through the history of makeup through Lisa Eldriges’ book, Face Paint: The Story of Makeup. This book is one of the first books that talks not about ‘how to apply makeup’, but the history and evolution of makeup. How and why society’s attitude towards different kinds of makeup look changes, how the formulation changes, why certain looks are trendy at a certain time. This book would appeal to anyone who’s interested in the beauty industry.

Face Paint: The Story of Makeup

For the party host

As (hopefully) all your friends and family get vaccinated, it might finally be safe to invite people over after 2 years of COVID. If they love cooking for guests themselves, Alison Roman’s Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over will inspire them to make some new dishes, without going crazy in the kitchen. The recipes have accessible ingredients and easy steps, but you just wouldn’t think of putting those simple ingredients together to make the most delicious homemade dishes until you read the recipies.

Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over

For the entrepreneur

Are they an entrepreneur or dreaming of becoming one? Make them feel less alone and less lost through stories of founders of allbirds, away, headspace, and many more in How I Built This by Guy Raz. How I Built This is one of my favorite podcasts, and this book is the essence of podcast episodes. Guy is such an amazing storyteller that good stories turn into great ones.

How I Built This by Guy Raz