Christmas is only a couple weeks away, so I'm trying to get the last of my shopping done. I always want to give the perfect gift. As a reader who loves to get books, my first thought when buying gifts for other people, whether it's a birthday or holiday, is to give them a book. But how do you decide what book to get? And is a book really the perfect gift for everyone?
I think there are a couple approaches when choosing a book for someone else. The first is tailoring the selection to that particular person, such as choosing a book based on their interests or hobbies. It shows that you've really thought about the recipient and what would appeal to them. The second is choosing a book you think they should read or think they might enjoy, based on your own perceptions. Maybe the book is a classic you think is a must-read, or the book somehow reminds you of the person. There's still thought put into it, but it's colored more by our own opinions. As much as I can, I try to stick to the first approach. For example, here are some of the books I've recently bought for people:
- For my brother's 30th birthday earlier this year, I gave him a book about the 1986 New York Mets. Not only are the Mets his favorite baseball team, but I thought it was a cute wink to the year he was born.
- My mom is a huge Jennifer Lopez fan, so I gave her Jennifer's recent memoir.
- I gave my dad a travel guide to Italy for his upcoming trip.
I'm always torn when buying books for other people. I think books can be great gifts, but they're not necessarily for everyone. I worry about seeming pushy, like I am telling other people that they should and must read. Or that maybe I look pretentious in telling people what I think they should be reading. Sometimes reading can be a really personal thing - we all have our favorite authors or genres that we gravitate towards. If I don't pick something that's in their wheelhouse, there's a big chance they just won't like it. Besides that, lots of people are not interested in reading, for one reason or another, a big one being that they just don't have time for it. It's why I've stopped buying books for my husband. He's not a reader, no matter how many awesome Dr. Who books I buy him. Somewhat ironically, my sister is a big reader like me, but she often tells me not to buy her books; she'd rather just borrow from me!
I will say, though, that one occasion I always buy books for is a baby shower. It works out well since a lot of baby shower hosts these day ask guests to bring a book anyway (for some ideas on what kinds of books to bring to baby showers, check out this post). I think books are so great for babies and kids, in forming bonds with their parents during story time and learning things like their colors and numbers. There are so many children's books out there, both classics and new ones, that it's hard to go wrong. Now that there are so many babies in our life (our niece and two nephews were all born this year!), I'm not limiting the book-giving to just showers. They'll all be getting books for Christmas and their birthdays, for the foreseeable future!
So, do you give books as gifts? How do you decide what book to give? Would you only buy books for someone else who is a big reader, or would you give a book to anyone?