I have a love/hate relationship with holiday shopping. On the one hand, holiday shopping is a pain: the crowds, the traffic (that one’s new to moving to LA!), the same five Christmas songs in every store, etc. On the other, I really like buying gifts for other people, and I still much prefer going to the store to do it. I don’t often have specific things in mind for specific people, but instead I really love to browse and see what’s on offer.
Amongst other things, every year I buy books for people. And yes, I do actually pay for them. Rarely do I get someone a big bestseller or literary must-read (though there was the year I got my father The DaVinci Code), but more often than not it’s titles I’ve found while browsing books at non-bookstores. Being an agent, I’m pretty familiar with what’s on the tables at Barnes & Noble or the front page of Amazon. But the books that tend to get me most excited at the holidays are those little gift books or ridiculous coffee table books. The other day at a small boutique here in LA, I found Concorde by Frederic Beniada and Michel Fraile, a book that’s a few years old but still remarkable in its detail, scope and beauty, and All My Friends Are Dead, a morbidly funny little picture book for adults by Avery Monsen and Jory John. Two gifts accounted for!
Clearly, it’s a very hip store to carry both of these books, but it reminded me that an awful lot of my book buying happens outside of the major book outlets. In a big bookstore, I admit that I sometimes get overwhelmed by the selection and tend to gravitate towards what I already know. I really appreciate those times when I can savor very curated environments, whether it’s a quirky selection (like the store I mentioned here) or the focus of a cookware or gardening store. I tend to spend more time with the books, and I while I can often leave Barnes & Noble without a book, I never leave a speciality store empty-handed.
I’m curious if there are other book people who also enjoy shopping and browsing in these environments. And what good discoveries have you made in them? Because I’m still looking for some gifts!