The Ultimate Books and Chocolate Gift: 2021 Version

OK readers, you know the drill with this one. For the ultimate Christmas (or birthday, or any occasion for that matter) gift, a gift that will surprise and delight and make the recipient think that you’re the most thoughtful person they know, you need two ingredients.

  1. A book with a striking cover
  2. Quality chocolate with photo-worthy packaging

That’s it. Two things. But it’s very, very important that you get the right things. An airport novel with a bar of Galaxy will not suffice. We’re talking an entirely different gift language here; considered literary material paired with the sort of choc you’d expect to see in one of those posh little delis that you immediately have to back out of because the parma ham can only be bought by the whole leg, complete with board and knife, and you realise your pot of olives is going to cost twelve quid.

I’ve been doing this Christmas present “books ‘n choc” feature for a few years now and you can browse past posts here; the rules are very simple but surprisingly difficult to follow if you’re time-poor. Which is why I spend hours and hours picking out the best books, the nicest covers and the most Instagram-worthy chocolate so that you can click and buy in a few seconds.

Sounds too good to be true? Here’s the best bit: some book and chocolate combos can come in at around a tenner. That’s ten pounds to look like you’re a cultural trailblazer, a coveted tastemaker and above all, an absolute sorcerer of the gifting world.

(Full disclaimer: my friend Tee chose some of these books because she reads more voraciously than me and always has so many good, considered suggestions. Thank you Tee.)

Obviously you can mix and match any of the books and chocolates you like, but you have to admit that the following pairings look very pretty. Click the links for more info on the books, if I had to do a synopsis on each one I’d be here until…well, Christmas.

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, £11.50 online here*

Marc de Champagne Truffles from Willies Cacao, £4.50 online here*

Delectable duo: one of the best books I’ve read this year with some surprisingly affordable truffles in a cool little box.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, £15.59 online here*

Dark Sea Salt Truffles from Charbonnel et Walker, £15 online here*

A book that’s on my to-read list but happens to have the most striking cover, paired with Charbonnel & Walker’s finest.

Mr Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo, £7.37 online here*

HiP Oat Milk Chocolate, £3.95 online here*

I loved Girl, Woman, Other and so snapped up Mr Loverman when I was last in town. The graphic, colourful cover goes brilliantly with HiP’s Oat Milk chocolate.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, £11.05 online here* (or £5 for the paperback version, which also has a good cover if you’re keeping costs down!)

Willie’s Cacao Orange & Almond, £2.49 online here*

Shuggie isn’t the most joy-raising of reads, but it’s an absolute masterpiece and a great gift for any serious reader. Willie’s Cacao offers up a festive flash of colour, just to lighten the mood…

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, £14.99 online here*

Dark Sea Salt Truffles by Charbonnel & Walker, £15 online here* as before

I’m still attempting to wade into Hamnet; it made my sister cry a lot and so I’ve been uncharacteristically nervous. However it’s a solid option as a gift – it’s had rave reviews – even though it came out last year. Looks great with the truffles, too.

Paul by Daisy Lafarge, £10.94 online here*

Le Chocolat de Francais, La Bouche Chocolat, £6.95 online here*

This is a Tee recommendation and the chocolate is from Liberty. Can we all please stand back and appraise the absolute glory and joy of this particular book-n-choc duo? I don’t want to blow my own trumpet here but visually, I think I have actually outdone myself. It’s almost art.

Long Division by Kiese Laymon, £8.99 online here*

Coco Chocalatier, £4.95 online here*

Kiese Laymon’s Long Division is next on my reading list and the cover art is perfect for this Ultimate Gift quest. This duo comes in at less than £15 and would be a bright little package to find under the tree.

A Modern Way To Live, by Matt Gibberd. £17.99 online here*

Love Cocoa Salted Caramel Milk Bar, £4.50 online here*

A foray into non-fiction now. A new book from The Modern House (estate agents and style leaders extraordinaire) and a gorgeous slab of salted caramel chocolate. For the cool cats and the interiors aficionados.

How To Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price, £5.87 online here*

Montezuma Giant Chocolate Buttons, £3.39 online here*

This is very non-hipster with its primary colours but I couldn’t resist – the shades are almost identical! What a match! The book is very topical and the buttons are very moreish and the whole package comes in at just over £9.

Diddly Squat by Jeremy Clarkson, £7.37 online here*

Tony’s Chocolonely Sea Salt Milk Caramel, £3 online here*

OK, I deliberated over including Jeremy’s book but I have to say that I loved the farm series and so, apparently, did nearly the whole country. So here’s the book and a bright, unapologetic slab of chunky milk choc, which just seemed appropriate.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo, £9.75 online here*

Hip Oat Milk Choc £3.95 online here*

I still haven’t read this Marie Kondo book, which is probably why my office is such a shit tip, but it makes for a lovely present along with some neat oat milk confectionary to eat whilst you’re reading…

Scary Smart by Mo Gawdat, £12.99 online here*

Tony Chocolonely, £3 online here* as before

I’m almost afraid to read Scary Smart, so it’s a good job I’m giving it as a present to one of my nearest and dearest. They will enjoy it greatly – it’s quite the eye-opener, I’ve heard – and I don’t think the Tony’s Chocolonely will be sniffed at either.

The Son by Philip Meyer, £7.79 online here* in paperback

Love Cocoa Salted Caramel Milk Bar, £4.50 online here*

It’s quite heavy-going, this book, a story of tragedy and conflict set in the early years of the newly-formed Texas. It’s incredibly violent but everyone (admittedly all men, go figure) I’ve bought it for or recommended it to has loved it.

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich, £7.99 online here*

Wllie’s Cacao Orange £2.49 online here*

I haven’t read a Louise Erdrich novel in years and am really looking forward to this one – I’ve gone for a “flames” theme here to match the chocolate box to the book cover. That’s just how I roll.

No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood, £10.77 online here*

Charbonnel & Walker Dark Truffles, £15 online here*

If in doubt, trawl through the latest Booker shortlist. That’s what I’ve done here and what a corker of a cover to have found alongside a brilliant book! I love it when a plan comes together. Looks mighty smart with the box of truffles – a pricier gift, perhaps, but one that will be vastly appreciated. And what sort of toiletries set tat would you otherwise be giving them, that would come in at £25?

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, £7.25 online here*

Tony Chocolonely, £3 online here* as before

One of my must-reads of last year, Queenie is at once heartbreaking and one of the funniest books I’ve finished in ages. I’ve gone bold and bright with my colours in this match and I’m not displeased with the result. It’s also another “pairing for a tenner” – a great, considered Christmas present for those on a tighter budget.

Fing by David Walliams, £4.50 online here*

Wonka Bars £7.95 for 6 online here*

And so we move to the kids’ offerings. I only have one thing to say to you here and that is Wonka Bars. You could slide one of these Wonka bars into a parcel with pretty much any kids’ book and it would make the whole thing magical. Who wouldn’t want a Wonka Bar?

They also make brilliant stocking fillers without books, if you’re that way inclined – and with each bar coming in at around £1.30 it’s a touch of wonder that won’t break the bank.

Further up the page, behold the Wonka Bar with David Walliams’ Fing; below see it in action with The BFG. Ideally I’d have had a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but mine is from the eighties and the cover has fallen off from overuse and it didn’t photograph particularly well…

The BFG by Roald Dahl, £6.99 online here*

Wonka Bars, £7.95 for 6 online here*

So that’s fun and friendly covered, but for those wanting something pretty you can’t beat the Penguin Clothbound Classics – they tend to be around £10 to £15 each and look really special. (You can find a selection online here* but Google to see all of the choices – the Alice one below is here* and £10.99.)

The cloth covers with individual patterns make each book feel like an absolute treat – it’s kind of dull to gift a classic, because most people have drudged through them at school and would rather forget, but give a clothbound classic? Yes please.

Right, I’ve absolutely bloody exhausted myself. I don’t think I’ve ever put so many photos into a post before or looked up so many book prices online! So you’ll excuse me if I take a books-n-choc break until next year. Oh:

I forgot the wrapping. This Clairefontaine Kraft paper is absolutely brilliant and exactly the right width for wrapping books! I think it looks really understated and chic and they do a few different designs. You can find it online here* – it’s my discovery of the season! Each roll is 5 metres long and costs just under three quid. Not as cheap as actual brown paper, but it’s easier to handle and looks far nicer.

Now I’m really, really going! Leave your own book and choc suggestions in the comments below. And in case you want this post as a video….well here it is:

DISCLOSURE POLICY. Posts published after 24th January 2019: if the post contains gifted items or affiliate links then it is indicated clearly beneath the title. Posts published prior to this will have a disclosure within the body of the post and then an asterisk * marking all affiliate links. If the content is a paid-for AD then it is marked as an AD in the title. For more information on disclosure please read here. 

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16 Comments

  1. Dan
    December 22, 2021 / 9:54 am

    I’ve said so many times how thoughtful a book is as a gift – you really have to think about the person and what they like to get it right that I’m always so happy when someone buys me a book! I love the idea of pairing it with great chocolate as a special gift!

  2. Nanaka
    December 13, 2021 / 4:59 pm

    Hoooray, tis the season for books & chocolate! Reading through this list, I’m a bit sad that I agreed on a “no presents for adults” restriction with my family, but I’ll surely buy one of these combos for friends :-)

    Thank you as always for the great picks! I devoured “Hamnet” & “Girl, Woman, Other” last Christmas, and will have to update my own bookshelf again, too!

  3. Rebecca
    December 10, 2021 / 3:21 pm

    Would anyone happen to know a non-Amazon place where you can order a book and a chocolate that could be sent to the same address in the same delivery?

    • December 10, 2021 / 6:22 pm

      Liberty have a few books but not a huge selection x

      • Rebecca Mills
        December 10, 2021 / 7:21 pm

        Awesome, thank you! I’ve done the book and chocolate present thing a few times since you introduced it, but this year I’d like to cut out the wrapping-and-posting stage :)

  4. Liz Cook
    December 2, 2021 / 10:00 pm

    I’ve been using this Book & Chocolate combo for inspiration for a few years now.
    This year I’ve gone for Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and My Life in Full by Indra Nooyi paired with Harry Spectre choc.

    Both book covers are quite dark but think it kinda works

  5. Sophie
    December 2, 2021 / 6:25 pm

    Hi Ruth. What was the book you recommended on your Instagram page a couple of weeks ago? Your friend had given it to you? Wanted to do your book & chocolate idea with that one.

    • December 3, 2021 / 10:05 am

      It’s Sorrow & Bliss, shown here x

  6. Jayne
    December 2, 2021 / 3:08 pm

    So pleased you have done this again….I’ve used this idea several times now for birthdays along with Christmas. My family/friends are quite blown away when they receive these. I stick to simple recycled brown paper/string for wrapping as it makes the book/choc look even more fab when they are unwrapped!
    Wishing you and yours a healthy, jolly Christmas..

    Jayne

  7. December 2, 2021 / 12:06 pm

    Thank you, thank you what a brilliant idea. I’m trying to be so organised this year but I’d got a bit stuck. Now I’m winning at Christmas, at least for the next week …..

  8. December 2, 2021 / 12:01 pm

    Always love this post. Great ideas. I would love pretty much any of them! Thank you!

  9. Kay
    December 2, 2021 / 7:32 am

    Thank you. When I came across your list last year I took the idea and used it for quite a few birthday presents too. Many people this year have been gifted Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater which has a very understated cover which goes with everything.

    • December 2, 2021 / 11:02 am

      Oh thanks Kay, looking at that now!

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