Bookish Gifts for $20 or Less

Writing holiday lists for my family is, in a word, painful. My husband and I are both very easy people who tend to not want things nor do we have expensive taste. We just buy what it is we want to buy when we have the means to do it.

So one way I’ve solved the problem this year was not only saving things throughout the year that caught my eye but I’d never want to spend my money on, but also, I perused a lot of gift guides. One thing I noticed on these gift guides, though, was so many claimed to be “inexpensive” and their starting price points were $50, $75, or $100. That…isn’t inexpensive.

In the spirit of the season, I thought I’d pull together a gift guide for bibliophiles of all shapes and sizes. This can be a starting place for you or useful if you’re trying to shop for the book lover in your life. And it’s actually inexpensive — this list has three price levels: $20 and under; $10 and under; and $5 and under. I’ve gone for both obviously bookish items, as well as some that are less bookish and more about being useful for bookworms.

$20 and Under 

panasonic headphone earbuds

First up: these amazing earbuds with a built-in microphone. These are perfect for audiobook fans, and what makes these headphones better than most is that they have more than one size for the flexible piece that sits in your ears. I have tiny ears and cannot use normal earbuds, but this set has not caused me any issues. They come in a few vibrant colors, too. They list for $19.99 but depending where you shop, you can snag them for just under $11.


sherlock print

Sherlock fans! For $15, you can decorate your walls or your cubical (or whatever) with this 8.5 x 11 print. For those gifting, you can easily find a solid frame in this size for $5 or under.


literary paper dolls

For under $13, go back to childhood with these literary paper dolls. There are 16 different characters, along with a pile of literary-themed accessories to go along with them.


book plate set

This one is for bookplate fans, as well as those who love a little DIY. Create your own awesome bookplates, featuring a cute little owl, for inside anything you want to have one for $19.50.


harry potter pencils

Snag a set of 7 gorgeous Harry Potter pencils for $14. If you click through to the shop, there are a few other bookish designs, too, including Alice in Wonderland, Edgar Allan Poe, Star Wars, and more.


the green light

Literary candles? Yes, please! There are a few different $14 jarred candles to choose from in this Etsy shop, including The Green Light (above), Walden, and Burning Books.


protagonistAre you a protagonist or an antagonist? Declare yourself with a necklace. Just $14.



Be non-compliant with these rad Bitch Planet nail wraps. These bad boys (bad girls?) are $12 and officially licensed, so nothing weird to worry about!


moby dick brooch

For those who love a good brooch, as well as classic literature, you can marry the two loves with these classic literary brooches, running about $16. Above is Moby Dick, but there are a lot of different options.


HP underwear

How about some Harry Potter underwear? $16 for some mischief managed.



Postcards + literary quotes + beautiful design = 100 literary postcards for $20. These would be awesome to send, and they’d also be awesome to frame or use to decorate a wall. I’m a big fan of collecting great postcards and framing them, so another idea might be perusing Etsy for inexpensive bookish postcards (many you can find for $2 or $3 each), then finding frames to pop them into. A set of three of those would still let you spend under $20 and look great as a thoughtful, literary gift.


$10 and Under


pocket journal

It’s my observation that the venn diagram of readers and notebook lovers is a perfect circle. For $9, snap up this cute pocket notebook featuring, of course, a bookworm. Chronicle notebooks are some of the best ones out there. If you prefer larger notebooks, there are many under $15 to choose from on site.



little red riding hoodThis is one design set of many featuring bookish characters in teeny tiny bookmark form. Above are the characters from Little Red Riding Hood. You can snag these for $6.95, but if you find them on sale, they might even come in under $5.


wild things

Let the wild rumpus start with these $10 Where the Wild Things Are socks.


octopus todo list

For paper lovers and to-do list makers, this $8 notepad features a reading octopus. Imagine how many more books you’d be able to buy or take out from the library with eight legs.



A stack of books in ornament form for just under $9. Maybe this is a gift you give before tree decorating, though this kind of ornament is perfect for any time of year. It’d sit nice on a book shelf beside one’s real stacks.


playing cardsThis $9.95 deck of cards comes with a side of good advice.


library card notebook

These little notebooks are made from recycled library catalog cards. As a bonus, they’re composed of a variety of types of paper — some that’s lined, some that’s colored, and some that’s textured. Under $9.


bookworm magnets

Fridge or file cabinet looking a little naked? This set of $10 magnets should do the trick.


shakespeare lip balm

Do you want to protect your sensitive lips with Hamlet, Shakespeare, or Macbeth? You don’t have to choose your hero with this collection, which is under $8 for all three. Shakespeare tastes like mint, fyi.


little golden books

Know bookish kids (or bookish kids at heart)? This set of four small cups — 8.5 oz each — features favorite characters from the “Little Golden Books” series. Under $8. If you scroll down on the same page, you’ll see there are some plates that complete the set, too, and those are under $20 for four.


& Light

Snag a rad marquee light in the shape of an ampersand or a question mark. For $9.99, this really lights up a bookshelf (and that pun was totally unintended). You’ll have to buy batteries, so plan for another couple dollars if you buy this particular style.


quote earrings

If you prefer to wear your punctuation, you’ll want to grab these $10 quotation mark earrings. You can get them in gold or in silver.


writers blocks

Need some bookshelf or desk decoration with a literary bent? These “writer’s blocks” feature a famous writer — Maya Angelou pictured above — and their well-known works. These vintage-styled blocks are cute and for $9 a great gift.


$5 and Under 

hunger games tea


If you know someone or are yourself someone who loves tea and The Hunger Games, you cannot go wrong with the $4 sample tins of these specialty blend loose leaf teas from Adagio (which is some of the best loose leaf tea out there). You get about five cups of tea out of each sample, which is perfect for figuring out if it’s the right tea for you.



go away im reading

For under $4, you can get this as a badge, a little pocket mirror, or even a keyring.


cover girl star wars makeup

So this one is a little YMMV in terms of price, but Cover Girl’s Star Wars make up collection has some pieces you can easily find for under $5 in your favorite local retailer. Some of the collection may fall in the $6 or $7 range, but nothing here is over $10 (see, it’s cheating to put it in the under $5 category, but I know I can find it that inexpensively where I live).



jane austen airfreshener

For $3.50 you can have your very own “Sensibly Scented” Jane Austen air freshener. What would Jane Austen smell like? Lavender, apparently.


temp tat

If you’re not ready to take the plunge on a permanent tattoo, how about a set of temporary ones? For $3, wear the art of reading books.


oscar wilde quote

This particular gift will take a little work to achieve perfection, but the part you see above is a straightforward $5. It’s a digital download of an 8×10 piece of art with a classic Wilde quote. You’d have to print it and supply a frame (which, if you’re savvy, both things can be done on the cheap, too). There are a few options to choose from.


xstitch pattern

This is another downloadable. For $4, you can download this nice little cross stitch pattern for bookworms. By the time you add the necessary canvas, floss, and needle, you’d still come in around the $5 mark.


bookish buttons

Four bookish buttons for $4.00 seems hard to pass up. You can also pick out individual buttons from this set — or the others at this shop — for $1.50 each. A perfect stocking stuffer.


bookish forest

How about 54 stickers featuring adorable forest animals like porcupines, raccoons, owls, and foxes reading? For $5, they can be yours. These would be really cute to pair with the Little Golden Book cups in the $10 section, along with a picture book or two for a young reader.


Know of other great bookish gifts that are at any of these price points? Drop a link in the comments — I’d love to see more ideas!

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