In December, 2007 and again in April, 2009 I did some guest blogging at ForeWord Magazine's ShelfSpace Blog. While ForeWord Magazine is going strong, they have discontinued doing that guest blogging. So, I am going to rerun those posts here at Tea Cozy. Any edits to remove confusion about things like dates is in brackets.
Giving Gifts at Holidays
My initial idea for this post was one about what books to give for the holidays. But then I saw Chasing Ray Twelve Days of Christmas Book Lists series and thought, well, I cannot top that. And, The Edge of the Forest (note: TEOTF is no longer available online, sorry!) included my top gift selections in its 'Tis the Season feature, offering up book ideas from the entire editorial board, myself included.
So instead, you get – Liz's tips for giving (and receiving) books!
You're a reader. Or you know a reader. That makes gift-giving easy, right? Just give a book!
But it's not so simple when you're standing in your local bookstore, staring at tables and shelves full of books: paperbacks, hardcovers, classics, new releases, fantasy, romance, non-fiction, coffee table books, pop ups. Or you're at home, in slippers, in front of the computer, looking at your online bookstore, reading reviews and user comments. Either way: it's overwhelming.
What book to give? What is the perfect fit?
Or you're the one holding the present that you can tell, from the shape and weight and feel, is a book. But it's from a relative whose taste is, well, let's just say you're leery of opening that particular package. Or you've eagerly opened the book only to discover it's an etiquette book from your sister-in-law. Huh?
Not the book you wanted. Or needed. And you're actually a bit upset someone thought that book was a fit for you.
Tips for Giving
What will the recipient want? Sounds easy, but all too often, especially with readers, we think not of what book do they want but rather "omg, this is a fabulous book and everyone should read it." Enthusiasm is great, but wouldn't it be better to give your surfer brother a nonfiction book about surfing movies?
Read any good books lately? If you're not quite sure what book to get, ask. "Read any good books lately" will help you find out both what books the reader likes, but also what they have already read. If you're afraid that is a little obvious, ask the person's partner, parents, or children.
Ask a Librarian or Bookseller. Still not sure what to get? And you absolutely positively don't want to just ask the person? Ask your local librarian or bookseller. Call the library or visit the bookstore, describe as much as possible about the person's tastes, and get some suggestions from the experts.
Tips for Receiving a Book.
Don't Buy Anything for Yourself Just Before the Holiday. Give your friends and family a break. Yes, I know, you want the newest book by your favorite author right away; but your friend may have been thrilled to finally be able to get just the right book for you. And, worst case scenario? You can still get it for yourself after the holiday.
Be Obvious About What You Want. When someone asks you, "read a good book lately," realize they are asking for gift suggestions and give them a few. Print out a list from a website, or tear the page out of a magazine or newspaper, and circle the ones you want. People aren't mind readers. Word of warning: don't give everyone the exact same suggestion.
Fake It. You open the package. Maybe you already read it; maybe you wouldn't read the book in a hundred years; maybe you find it a bit of insulting that someone thought you'd be interested in THAT book. Smile, thank them – because you know what? They tried. And picking a book for someone, especially a reader, is hard work. And after you chat to your sister in law, you may find out she thought the etiquette book was hysterically funny and gave it to you as a laugh, or she may have remembered you saying you wish you had something to let you know the right way to handle something for your new business and thought this book would answer your questions.
And, finally, most importantly –
Wait to Start Reading the Book. This is tough one. It's a book you wanted; or a book you didn't even know you wanted but now that you've seen it you cannot wait to start it. So you read the cover, then the jacket, and what's one page, really? Just one chapter…. And if you're not careful, there you are, happily reading, while there are presents to unwrap, friends and family to visit with, games to play, and a holiday meal. The book will keep; enjoy your get together! (And, maybe, sneak a chapter while the dishes are being washed.)
Originally posted in December 2007 at ForeWord Magazine's Shelf Space Blog.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy