This morning’s e-mail contained a nudge from a bookseller reminding me that it would be a good idea to remind my readers that books make great holiday gifts. For a moment, I was mystified. Who doesn’t give books as gifts? But then I remembered that there are probably a lot of people who don’t automatically think books when they think gifts. Either those they want to get or would like to give. For me, books are just about the only thing worth thinking about as a gift.
Think about it: Give somebody a shirt or sweater, and they’ll usually have to exchange it for another size or color or style. That’s a drag, and chances are, if they really wanted the shirt you gave them, they’d already have it. Same thing with jewelry. The jewelry you’d love to have is what you’re probably going to give somebody else, and they may hate it. Everybody would be happier if you just kept it for yourself. if you give somebody a gift for their home, they have to display the thing even if they hate it. They may hide it except when you’re coming and then drag it out just so you won’t know they hate it.
Books, on the other hand, don’t create any tension. The recipient of a book can read it and then pass it along to somebody else, so it’s truly a gift that keeps on giving. And books can be discussed. If you give somebody a book they hate, you have a great topic of conversation about what they didn’t like about it. If they love it, you can share that too.
Which brings up the point of book-giving etiquette: is it rude to read a book you’re going to give somebody else? Does reading it make it a used book? And if you read it first, how can you make sure the pages don’t get sprung out so they know you’ve read it? I have been known to read books almost sideways, sort of peeking into the slit I allow the page to be open, so I won’t sully the newness of it before I give it away.
If you have favorite books you’d recommend as gifts, I’d appreciate it if you’d share them.