“Its that time of year…” when you are fast running out of ideas of what to get!
Close Family, In-Laws, kids, friends, Secret Santas…the list is ENDLESS!
Giving a book as a gift is a huge pleasure, but have you ever had that moment when your recipient, after gushing their thanks and with a light in their eyes, rips open the carefully-wrapped present and ….pause, breath, frozen smile, and “Wow thanks fantastic”, as your pride is laid down on the table and promptly forgotten.
So how to turn that frown upside down? There is an art in gift-giving, and no more so than with books.
1: Know What They Like!
Just because they are your BFF doesn’t mean they share ALL your interests. Previous conversations will help, depending on the topics you’ve touched on. Lifestyle will be a major indicator – someone into football may love an autobiography on George Best or a scandal-breaking tell-all like The Fall of the House of FIFA: The Multimillion-Dollar Corruption at the Heart of Global Soccer, or could be an indefatigable lover of Pub Quizs.
Your perfect go-to scenario is where they are in the middle of collecting a series of books, for example Game of Thrones by George Martin, The Dark Tower by Stephen King, or the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. You may even finish their collection for them – serious Brownie points!!
2: Make Sure It Won’t Be Mis-Understood.
I have yet to be forgiven for giving a cookbook to my new wife – 17 years later! As I learnt from that particular episode, the thought doesn’t always count, so choose your book carefully! If your aim is to flatter intelligence, probably best not to have a “For Dummies” title.
The emotional context of the giving should determine the book – an office Secret Santa gift could be a latest bestseller, for these are gifts usually between work colleagues. A family Secret Santa book is a different story (pardon the pun!), and for that see Rule 1.
3: Try To Have Read The Book Yourself!
Or at least have peeked inside the cover. I had a recent conversation with one very unfortunate guy who, in his rush to pick up his daughter a present, lit on what he thought was a lovely illustrated book about animals, and what they say. Here is a picture of one such utterance.
4: When in Doubt, Keep it Short.
Buying War & Peace may be ideal for the Russo-Napoleonic enthusiast in your circle, but books of this size can be off-putting for most people, and most likely will not be read. It may be a better idea to buy a box-set (e.g. the three Lord Of The Rings titles, plus The Hobbit) rather than in the one publication (easier to carry them individually as well!).
5: Should I Inscribe A Book?
Personally, unless its to immediate family, or as a gift for a boyfriend or girlfriend, I would not inscribe a book. Personal notes are treasured, something to be seen in ten or fifteen years time, and can bring back (hopefully) happy nostalgic thoughts.
For non-family, I would leave the book in its pristine condition, with maybe a loose hand-written note or card inside it.
Book Gift Giving:
To finish, a gift of a book is a special thing. Books can last forever, you can time travel with them, their ability to deliver over and over again is unparalleled. A good book can be shared and loved for years.
Be thoughtful, and consider the person to whom you are giving the book. Don’t make it a reflection of yourself – your recipient may not love Organic Gardener’s Composting as much as you do, and you may both end up disappointed.
These rules give you a much better than even chance of hitting that sweet spot.
I would love to hear your thoughts on book gift-giving, and tell me why you would prefer to get a book over and above any other present this Christmas.