The Ultimate Book Gift Guide




If there's one thing I love, it's books (as you might have seen my recent YouTube video: 10 Books That Changed My Life!) I believe books are, as Stephen King put it, "uniquely portable magic." I meant to simply post a list of books I would recommend, but as I was scanning my bookshelves and my GoodReads page, I couldn't help but think about all of the book beliefs I hold. Here are just a few of them...


I believe books can transform the way you think about the world -- and yourself. They shape your values. They provide guidance and inspiration and a safe, healthy form of escape. 

I believe a little part of every book I've ever read stays with me forever, even if I don't always remember the exact words I've read. The meanings we find in words stay etched on our souls. 

I believe a space without books is lacking not only in knowledge, but in beauty as well. Some of my favorite sights are the straight, colorful spines of books. 

I believe the best books can (and should!) be read over and over again. Every time you read a book you love, you can learn something new about who you are.

I believe the best books for you won't always be the ones topping the best-seller list. I believe there're little bits of word magic found on garage sale tables and in the nooks of used book stores.

I believe we are all book-lovers at heart, even those of us who claim not to adore them. Each of us is a story-teller, and each of us loves a story well told. 

I believe you can fall in love with characters and authors and fictional places you've never been; I believe this kind of love is just as real as the heart-pounding, palm-sweating kind. 

I believe every book we read is unique to us; the reader, as much as the writer, crafts the story or explores the knowledge with her imagination and insight.

I believe there can be nuggets of goodness even in a bad book, but I don't believe in continuing to turn the pages just to reach an end. If you hate it, put it down. 

I believe a great book can make you feel less alone;  in the words on a page, you can find compassion, love, and forgiveness. A great book can be a mirror both for who you are and who you want to be. 

I believe you shouldn't believe every word you read; just because it's in print doesn't mean it's true. Books can lead to truth, but not all of them are filled with it.

I believe reading can help you to remember, and it can also help you to forget. It's up to you to choose which mindset you happen to be in the mood for. 

I believe books are a pathway to freedom. With one in your hand, you can become and learn and see absolutely anything; there are no rules inside of a book. 

I believe the best books never actually come to an end. The words continue to be read and re-read in all the words you think and speak and feel. 

I believe there will never be an end to the list of books I want to read, but I will keep doggedly plowing through my to-read list for the rest of my life. 

(Like these words? Download I Believe Books!)


And, most importantly, I believe everyone -- even the "I don't really get into reading" types -- can benefit from reading a great book. So here's a list of some of my favorites, along with some thoughts on who these books might be perfect for (they might speak to you or they might make perfect gifts for that holiday season that's just around the corner!)  

I've tried to sort them in to some sort of order, but truly I recommend looking through the whole list because you never know what might spark your interest (or sound perfect for someone you know!)



For literally anyone related to you or who has a family... 
It Didn't Start with You / Mark Wolynn

For your uber-opinionated and vocal grandfather...
The Joy of Argument / Albert Navarra

For your too tough-and-cool for self-help uncle...
10% Happier / Dan Harris

For your memory-hoarding mother... 
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up / Marie Kondo

For your self-involved (but secretly sweet) teenager... 
Tiny Buddha's 365 Love Challenges / Lori Deschene

For your not-quite-on-the-same-page spouse...
The Five Love Languages / Gary Chapman

For your romance-novel-reading mother-in-law...
Other People's Love Letters / Bill Shapiro

For your hilarious (and a bit odd) aunt...
Furiously Happy / Jenny Lawson

For your sibling with a kid who's struggling in school...
Thinking Organized / Rhonna Gordon

For the dad who thinks feminism is for women only...
Feminism Is for Everybody / bell hooks

For your aunt and uncle who're constantly bickering...
Blamestorming / Rob Kendall

For your health-conscious, foodie brother-in-law...
In Defense of Food / Michael Pollan 

For the mother who puts everyone else first... 
Too Nice for Your Own Good / Duke Robinson

For your brother who needs a bit of inspiration...
This is How / Augusten Burroughs

For your father-in-law who loves a good mystery...
Knights in White Satin / Philip DiPirro

For your sister who's against ever marrying...
Spinster / Kate Bolick

For your aunt who's self-identifies as a dog mom...
Inside of a Dog / Alexandra Horowitz

For the cousin still working on that novel...
On Writing / Stephen King

For the niece struggling through her 20s...
It's a Wonderful Lie / Emily Franklin

For the aunt who loves daily bits of insight... 
Stay Positive / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For your spouse (read it together!)...
Love 2.0 / Barbara L. Frederickson

For the sibling you've not-so-subtly resented for years... 
Forgiveness / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For your parent who's curious about self-improvement...
The Positively Present Guide to Life / Dani DiPirro (me!)



For your slightly neurotic niece or nephew...
Owl at Home / Arnold Lobel

For a teenager at odds with her mother...
The Runaway Bunny / Margaret Wise Brown

For the child who's not like his/her siblings...
The Trumpet of the Swan / E.B. White

For the teen who doesn't like standing out... 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower / Stephen Chbosky

For the little toddler who's always a bit grumpy...
Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? / Carol McCloud

For the little one who's always daydreaming...
Once Upon a Cloud / Claire Keane

For the middle-schooler adjusting to a new place... 
I Capture the Castle / Dodie Smith

For the teen with a potentially self-destructive friend...
Looking for Alaska / John Green

For the teenage girl who love the broody boys...
The Wind Blows Backward / Mary Downing Hahn

For the girl who needs some modern advice...
Girl Talk / Christie Young

For the little girl who wants a place of her own...
Mandy / Julie Andrews Edwards

For the creative teenager who needs a pick-me-up...
Pick Me Up / Adam J. Kurtz 

For the deep-thinking, graphic-book-loving teen...
Persepolis / Marjane Satrapi

For the teenager always snapping Insta pics...
A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book / Elsie Larson

For the super creative (and a little spooky) kid...
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick / Chris Van Allsburg

For the kid who loves animals more than people...
Guardians of Being / Eckhart Tolle



For the friend who's a (not so) secret badass...
Bad Girls Throughout History / Ann Shen

For the friend going through a really tough time...
Loving What Is / Byron Katie

For the always-judging-others friend...
Compassion / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For the friend sighing, "I should try meditating..."
You Can Master Meditation / David Fontana

For the friend who needs to dump him/her ASAP...
The No-Contact Rule / Natalie Lue

For the friend who cancels plans to read instead...
Quiet: The Power of Introverts / Susan Cain

For the friend struggling to get pregnant...
The Fairy Rebel / Lynn Reid Banks

For the friend who's scared of (but needs to) change...
Start Where You Are / Meera Lee Patel

For your super creative, artistic, cool friend...
In Progress / Jessica Hische

For the friend who constantly seeks external approval...
I Need Your Love: Is That True? / Byron Katie

For the friend who recently said goodbye to a pup...
Dog Heaven / Cynthia Rylant

For the buddy who's constantly worrying...
The Power of Now / Eckhart Tolle 

For the friend with a rocky mother/daughter relationship... 
Boundaries / Anne Katherine

For your sassy friend who needs a happiness boost...
How to Be Happy, Dammit! / Karen Salmansohn

For your whimsical friend who loves a bit of magic...
The Night Circus / Erin Morgenstern

For a friend who seems like she's really lost...
Wild / Cheryl Strayed

For the friend that still keeps a diary...
The Folded Clock / Heidi Julavits

For the pal that needs to figure out what she wants...
The Desire Map / Danielle LaPorte

For the guy who's always crying over his ex...
The Great Gatsby / F. Scott Fitzgerald

For your feminist friend who feels all the feels...
I Am an Emotional Creature / Eve Ensler

For your buddy who's always searching the next rush...
Hector and the Search for Happiness / François Lelord



For the creative-but-frazzled coworker...
Calm / Michael Acton Smith

For the coworker who needs to follow her passion...
The Crossroads of Should and Must / Elle Luna

For the too-creative-for-this place coworker...
Big Magic / Elizabeth Gilbert

For the coworker who's always super stressed...
Living in the Moment / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For the colleague always around adults...
The Little Prince / Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For someone who needs a bit of motivation...
It's Not How Good You Are... / Paul Arden

For the coworker who's always complaining...
Gratitude / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For the a stylish guy/gal who loves soul-searching...
Style Statement / Danielle LaPorte

For the coworker getting his kids a puppy...
The Puppy Primer / Patricia B. McConnell

For the guy always yelling in his office...
Emotional Agility / Susan David, PhD

For that colleague always looking for gossip...
PostSecret / Frank Warren

For that guy always looking for a project...
The Happiness of Pursuit / Chris Guillebeau

For the colleague always finding the bad stuff...
You Can Be an Optimist / Lucy MacDonald

For the coworker who should run her own business...
#GirlBoss / Sophia Amoruso

For the HR guy who loves analyzing people... 
The Social Animal / David Brooks 

For your colleague who can't choose a lunch spot...
The Paradox of Choice / Barry Schwartz

For the boss who's perpetually stressed out...
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work / Richard Carlson

For the trivia-loving data dude in IT...
The Visual Miscellaneum / David McCandless

For the admin who needs to pursue her dreams...
Now Is The Time To Do What You Love / Nancy Whitney-Reiter


Phew! That's quite a list, huh? I'd love to keep adding to it -- it is the Ultimate Book Gift Guide, after all -- so feel free to leave me a comment below or send me a message on social media about the books you'd include on this list. I'm always looking to add to that never-ending pile of to-read books! :)

If you liked the words above and would like a FREE PDF to download and print, click here or click the image below to download a PNG file, perfect for saving to Pinterest or keeping on your computer! :)


positively present picks : may 6, 2016



“But behind all your stories is always your mother's story,
because hers is where yours began."

Mitch Albom


Mother's Day Quotes : my mom is all of these + more! 

Dog Moms! : happy Mother's Day to them too ;)

The Transformative Power of Gratitude : listen to my interview here

Good Fear vs. Bad Fear : and how to tell the difference... 

Are You Reacting or Living? : this article really made me think

The School of Life: has some really great + inspiring products

Why You Should Recognize + Release Negative Emotions

55 Inspiring Quotes on Dreams : and how to make them real! 

Who Are You to Yourself? : such a thought-provoking question

1o Surprising Mood Boosters : perfect little pick-me-ups

You Are Worthy of Your Desires : wise words from Danielle LaPorte 

12 Kinds of Kindness : love this site + its positive message so much!

Hell No : Snapchatters'll love this video (it cracks me up!)



Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Boyfriend" — Tegan and Sara
"Your Precious Smile" — Eden Fox
"Swim" — Valley
"Awaken" — Kodu
"Good Liars" — BLAJK
"This Is What You Came For"— Calvin Harris
"Hell No" — Ingrid Michaelson
"I Wanna Dance with Somebody" — Bootstraps
"Love Love Love" — Tristan Prettyman
"Too Young" — Post Malone



Check out my reading list on GoodReads.

Do Big Small Things
Bruce Poon Tip

The Good House: A Novel
Ann Leary 

It Didn't Start with You:
How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes
Who We Are and How to End the Cycle

Mark Wolynn

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present
Dani DiPirro

a christmas round-up: a collection of holiday links!



Merry Christmas week! I've been feeling particularly festive this year (perhaps from watching these daily videos from Zoella!), and I'm very excited that Christmas is almost here. (And a little sad too. It's always such a deflating feeling when the day is done.) Since I'll be spending a lot of this week celebrating the holiday and doing fun, festive things, I won't be doing a Positively Present Picks post on Friday. Instead, I've round-up all of the Christmas-y goodness I could find to share with you today. 

I hope your Christmas Day (whether you celebrate the holiday or not!) is absolutely magical and filled with all of the lovely things you treasure. While you're waiting for the big day to arrive, check out the festive round-up of links below... 



24 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness : spread holiday cheer!

Gingerbread Oatmeal Face Mask : perfect if you need pampering

Emoji Ornaments : these could be a great last-minute DIY gift

Lego Holiday Crafts : perfect for the kids (+adults!) in your life

Christmas Nail Art Ideas : great round-up of cute nail ideas

DIY Christmas Light Garland : so cute + looks pretty easy to do 

Paper Ornaments : for those last-minute decorating needs 

Bite-Sized Gingerbread Houses : omg, these are too cute!

Christmas Lights Leggings : adding these to my to-do list ASAP

Edible Snow Globe : make (+ then eat!) this little cutie. yum!

8 Ornaments in 8 Minutes : quick gifts or decor for your tree

Paper Snowflakes : tips for making the prettiest designs



Coolest Gift Tags + Gift Wrap : so many adorable freebies

Christmas Nostalgia Poster Pack : print + hang for instant cheer

Have a Cup of Cheer : such a cute little (free!) printable

Christmas Essentials : this art print is adorable + FREE!

8 Festive Phone Wallpapers : give your phone a holiday feel 

Dear Santa... : a printable letter for grown-ups + kids

Plaid Christmas Print : such a cute additional to your decor

101 Free Christmas Printables : everything you might need!



The Magic Christmas : life lessons from my favorite book

12 Signs You're Actually Buddy the Elf : I got 6 out of 12, haha

The 3 Biggest Holiday Stressors : and how to overcome them 

31 Perfect Things : an alternative to all of the gift guides

How to Stay Motivated to Work During the Holidays : you can do it

A Christmas Carol Starring YOU! : what if you were the main character?

Why I'm Obsessed with Christmas Movies : they're just the best

How to Hang Christmas Lights : all twinkle, none of the tangle



The Christmas Ninja : just look through this makes me feel festive!

Cookie Sheet Cookies : these are so cute I can't even handle them

24 Days of Zoella : I've loved watching these videos all month

Christmas Cheer : my Pinterest collection of Christmas-y things

White + Pink + Gold Tree : looking at this made me smile

Holiday Party Makeup : I love Tanya Burr + her tutorials! 

Emoji Gift Wrap : can't even tell you how much I love this

Christmas Gift Suggestions : this inspiring illustration is beautiful

Buddy the Elf Cookies : I love the spaghetti so much ;)





Christmas can be a tough time, which makes it one of the very best times to focus on self love. Want to empower yourself with some serious self-love and acceptance? Start loving yourself (or increase the love you already have for yourself!) with the inspiration and motivation found in Loving Your Self: An Empowering Workbook for Increasing Self-LoveFilled with uplifting encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and engaging exercises, Loving Your Self is an essential tool for mastering the art of self-love. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.

a christmas carol starring... you!



One of my favorite Christmas tales is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It's such a thought-provoking story, filled with concepts like forgiveness and compassion and taking control of the present that we should try to apply to our lives all year long. (If you haven't read the story before, I highly recommend it. You can read the full text here for free. Or watch this version that I used to watch as a kid!) For those of you who haven't read it / watched a film version / don't remember it, here's the gist: 

A mean, miserly, lonely old man called Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve -- the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Each ghost shows him what his life was / is / will be. The Past ghost reminds him of how he's changed (and not necessarily for the better). The Present ghost shows Scrooge how the current Christmas Day will play out, particularly for those who has treated poorly. And the Yet to Come ghost shows Scrooge mysterious scenes leading up to a man's death -- a man that Scrooge soon releases is him. After the third ghost's visit, Scrooge begs for a chance to go back to the present and right his wrongs, to embrace Christmas in his heart. Scrooge suddenly wakes in his bed and is thrilled with the chance to transform Christmas Present. He shares his newfound Christmas spirit with those he's treated badly and continues to act with kindness and generosity for the rest of his life. 

I've always felt I could relate with A Christmas Carol, probably because it's a tale of transformation, a story of how someone who is "bad" can become "good." We all can probably relate in some way to being flawed, to finding flaws we want to (or do!) change. As someone who often defaults to negative thinking and who must strive again and again to master the arts of staying positive and present, I relate, in some ways, to the character of Scrooge. I know what it's like to not always have been the most positive person, to have a wake-up call (though mine wasn't in the form of three ghosts!), and to want to make the present as positive as possible because I've envisioned what the future would be like if I didn't choose to walk down a positive path. 

Whether or not you've ever had some sort of Scrooge-like, a-ha moment in which your flaws were made clear, I don't think we have to wait for some big moment to think about how we're living our lives. We don't need three ghosts to come to us (or to have some sort of mind-shattering breakthrough or breakdown). In fact, I think we could learn a lot from simply pausing to ponder the question: 

What if YOU were starring in A Christmas Carol

This question popped into my head the other day and I couldn't shake it. It's one of those great questions that prompts you to ask more questions, like:  

What would the Ghost of Christmas Past show me if I were to be visited by such a spirit? What would I see if I were led around by the Ghost of Christmas Present? And what would I see if I were to travel with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come into the future? 

Plus, it's always kind of fun to imagine yourself starring in a familiar story! Of course, I'm sure this was the whole point of Dickens' book -- to inspire people to think about the past / present / future and consider how the past and the present will impact the future. I'm sure Dickens would love it if every reader put him or herself in Scrooge's shoes. But most people just read the book or watch the film, view Scrooge objectively, and feel happy when he learns his lesson. But what about our own lessons? 

This time of year is often a time of reflection. As the year draws to a close, we recall what's happened over the past twelve months and think about what we want to happen in the year ahead. But I suggest taking it a little bit further and ask yourself the following questions: 

  1. What would the Ghost of Christmas Past show you? 
  2. Who would the main characters in your past be? 
  3. What are the important moments / transitions in your past? 
  4. How did the past (good and bad) impact today? 
  5. What would the Ghost of Christmas Present show you? 
  6. Who would the main characters in your life be now? 
  7. How would you interact with these characters? 
  8. What's happening in the present that might change the future? 
  9. What would the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come show you? 
  10. Who from your present will be in your future? 
  11. What will your future self be doing / feeling / thinking?
  12. How did the past / present influence future Christmases?
  13. What might you want to change to create a future you want? 

I don't know about you, but reflecting on these really made me think! These question made me question what I'm doing now, recall what I've done before (what's worked / what hasn't), and think hard about what I want in the future. I hope these questions encouraged you to think about how the past, present, and future are all connected. What we do today impacts our lives tomorrow. What we've done before is influencing what's happening now. Sometimes, with striving to live in the moment, I forget how much the present impacts the future. What you do now matters, not only to your present self, but also to the future you.

And, now, for some additional inspiration from Dickens, I've rounded-up some of my favorite quotes from the book. Hopefully they'll positively influence you now -- and keep you feeling inspired in the future too. 

"No space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused."

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!"

"I have always thought of Christmastime, when it has come a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."

"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humor."

"Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him."




Self-love is an important aspect of self-discovery. Want to empower yourself with some serious self-love and acceptance? Start loving yourself (or increase the love you already have for yourself!) with the inspiration and motivation found in Loving Your Self: An Empowering Workbook for Increasing Self-LoveFilled with uplifting encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and engaging exercises, Loving Your Self is an essential tool for mastering the art of self-love. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.

the most wonderful gifts (+ giveaway) of the year!


If you're like me and you love shopping for, wrapping, and giving gifts, it's pretty much the most wonderful time of the year! If you're not so into the whole gift-giving process (and you're certainly not alone in that!), it's probably not the most ideal time for you right now. There are so many gifts to think about giving this time of year — from close loved ones to coworkers to complete strangers (like, say, the person who delivers your mail) — and finding the right gift can be a bit of a challenge sometimes.

I've created a round-up of great, positive gifts for those you love (and those you don't know all that well), and I hope it'll help you cross of some of the names still on your list. (Full disclosure: most of these gifts are things I've created to help bring some more positivity and mindfulness into the world.) In addition to this round-up of gifts, I have an amazing giveaway for you at the end of this post — perfect for giving or for treating yourself to a little something special this time of year! 

1. Forest Dream Pillow: Perfect for snuggling up on the cold winter nights (and bringing a pop of color into a drab season!); more pillows available here

2. Stay Positive Book: With 365 days of inspiration, this is the perfect gift for someone who needs to focus on the positive in 2016. Also available as a PDF here

3. The Positively Present Guide to Life Book: My latest book is filled with insights and motivated to live more positively in the present. It makes a great gift for almost anyone on your list! 

4. The Desire Map Book: I didn't write this one ;) but I absolutely love it. Danielle LaPorte's work is brilliant and this is a perfect gift for anyone who feels a little uncertain or lost right now. 

5. Finding Yourself PDF Workbook: A workbook designed to help the reader find out what matters most to him or her, this workbook is a great gift idea. You can print it or just forward the link to the receiver!

6. Christmas Alphabet Print: The perfect gift for a baby (or a new parent!), this little Christmas alphabet can be brought out year after year. Check out more prints here

7. Every Day Matters Diary: This 2016 planner is (available in two sizes!) is perfect for someone who could use a little organization in their life this year. Plus it's filled with lots of inspiration too! 

8. Love Love Necklace: Another great product by Danielle LaPorte, these necklaces (which come in a variety of other styles too) make beautiful little stocking stuffers for a lady on your list. 

9. Loving Your Self PDF Workbook: Know someone who could use a little self-love? This is the gift for him or her! And, since you can download instantly, it's a great last-minute item too. 

10. Present Wall Clock: There's always that one person who really struggles to stay present. This is the gift for that guy or gal, reminding them that there's no time like the present. 

11. Yay for Today Phone Case: Give the gift of celebration every day with this cheerful phone case. Every time they use it, they'll smile. More phone case styles available here


I hope you've enjoyed the round-up of gifts! I know these will make someone on your list smile, and my hope is that they've given you some ideas to help make the gift-buying season a little bit easier. And, to make it even easier, I'm hosting a giveaway to make it even easier to get a (free!) gift or to treat yourself.


I'm offering TWO lucky people a chance to win a copy of The Positively Present Guide to Life AND a copy of Every Day Matters 2016 Diary (in your choice of desk or pocket size). The book is your go-to guide to living positively in the present and the diary is an essential planner for keeping track of your daily activities (and positive memories!) in the year ahead. 



1. Enter by doing one (or all!) of the following. Each counts as an entry.   

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