It’s December, which means that we are in full Christmas swing. Have you been to the mall recently? Complete madness. I can barely handle it.
If you’re looking for a helpful list of Christmas gifties – you won’t find it here. At least not today. What I serve you today is a kind of cautionary tale, to temper your buying frenzy in the hopes that you take an extra moment to think them through.
Books are popular gift ideas this time of year. You only have to spend 5 minutes in your local book store (suddenly filled with people and line ups) to see it for yourself. But I’m here to warn you. Because while the idea of getting your entire shopping list done at one store is an exciting thought, books are an extremely personal gift, not to be taken lightly.
One book is not like another. A person that loved A Game of Thrones may not be as taken with the Lord of the Rings or vice versa. As we’ve seen, a fan of an author’s general body of work, or particular series, may not be equally taken with their newest release. You may think you know someone but I believe that you don’t really know a person until you are accurately able to select a book for them.
I give you this story.
I have liked to read since always. I think we’ve probably established that. My parents fed this love by always making books readily available to me. At Christmas my mom would carefully select those books that she thought I would love. But my mom and I like to read very different things. Especially as children. Where I was all about Anne of Green Gables my mom had been thrilled with The Chronicles of Narnia. There’s a picture of me reading The Prince and the Pauper when I was 9; my mom would have been more likely to be caught reading The Hobbit.
One of the pitfalls of being a voracious reader is that you try and force other people to read and love the same books that you do. And it doesn’t work like that. Books that speak to one person, do nothing for another.
Anyway, this one year, Christmas morning came and I eagerly unwrapped my book-shaped presents to find The Woman Who Rides Like A Man and Tree By Leaf. The former is the 3rd book in a fantasy series and the latter centres around a little girl who hears a voice telling her how to change her life. I still have the books on my shelves but I’ve never read them (sorry Mom).
My point here is that you really have to know a person well before you can choose a book for them. If you’re unsure about a book you’re thinking of buying someone, here’s my advice:
1. Make sure you get a gift receipt
2. Gift certificates to book stores, although not as personal, are always a welcome gift.
3. Ask for a list of 5 books from the person and then choose from among them. It’s still a surprise then, but you know they will enjoy it. Or, if they don’t, at least it was their choice, not yours.
Good luck out there people.