What to give?

Obviously, I’m a reader. A lot of my friends are readers. People in my family are readers. In short, I like books and people I know like books. (That actually wasn’t that much shorter…) In case you hadn’t noticed, the holiday season is upon us and with it comes gift-giving, gift-getting and the occasional stress of gift-buying. The thing is, despite all this aforementioned love for the written word, I hate buying books for people. Literary taste is such a specific and subjective thing, that no matter how much I want to share books with people, there’s always just as much of a chance that the person will hate the book as much as there is that they will love it.

It’s a shame, because for those who are so inclined, getting books is one of the nicest things—I just can’t get over my fear and indecision when it comes to picking them out for other people. Unless there’s a new book by an author I know my intended recipient loves, or I just go for a gag/coffee table/joke book, then I’m at a loss. They say you’re only supposed to give people books you yourself have read and enjoyed, but I don’t know that this actually makes it any better—awkwardness abounds if you bestow a treasured and loved tale upon someone who ends up either disliking it, or worse, feeling ambivalent about the whole thing. What if they already have the book, or have at least read it? There’s no way of knowing!

Before I pull all of my hair out distressing over this, I thought I would share this little list that I actually came across last Christmas posted on thewrittenword.com. These are perfect! Lovely little literary things that aren’t books! Look at that chandelier! That is gorgeous! And it’s pages! From a book! I don’t know how much I would like to smell like a library, but I would definitely get some kicks out of that It Was a Dark and Stormy Night board game.

There are only ten options on this list, but I know I’ve seen creative little gifts along similar lines recently, those that go beyond a journal or horrifyingly difficult to buy book. Have you gotten any great literary-themed presents in the past? Have you given any? There are still plenty of shopping days left, and I could use some options!

11 Responses to What to give?

  1. Heidi says:

    I never buy anyone books. It’s just too difficult and I’d rather no one buys me a book either. I have a list as long as my arm of books I want to read, please don’t make me read your favourite new book out of obligation!

    Also I genuinely hate to be that person but the misuse of ambivalent is my pet peeve.

  2. Kendall says:

    This is so cute! I put together a little list of literary gift-giving options (specifically for writers, but it’s a general list) on my own blog: http://bloggingforya.blogspot.com/2011/12/15-gifts-for-writer-in-your-life.html

    I think my favorite is the illustrated book sculpture available on Etsy. So amazingly gorgeous.

  3. I love giving books to people and I don’t usually feel too nervous about it. I generally know my friends’ and family’s tastes, and if I want to give them a book I haven’t read, I just include the caveat, “I thought you might like this because of ____.” There’s an obvious reason or research behind it. I guess that wouldn’t work for more acquaintance-level gift recipients, though.

    I like the Postertext option, and the game could be fun, but a lot of those items are a little too kitschy for my taste (although I can imagine they would appeal to lots of people).

    Similar to that and the wallpaper but on a smaller scale–apparently a lot of people on Etsy are selling old book pages decorated with stamps or other art in frames, and they’re selling well.

    Also, I freaking love book boxes. And I made a pretty hardbound notebook into a case for my Kindle, and the same thing could be done with a vintage book.

  4. Tamara says:

    I love the book-reading preparedness kit. Put together a cozy basket of hot chocolate and teas and wine and snacks like cheese and crackers and wool socks and whatever else you can think of. Get as creative as you want and suit to your audience, er, recipient.

  5. Aimee Stwart says:

    Almost too easy.

    Go to http://www.etsy.com
    Write on the search mechanism: literary art.
    The result will the thousands of items, mostly not expensive, hand-made, that will make you look very savvy and avant-garde. Really.

  6. Janice Nolting says:

    My novel, THE END OF SUMMER, is a good read. It is about a teenager and little old lady returning back to Iowa on a bus, and relating to each other their turbulent pasts. Amber, a teen runaway and recovering alcoholic reuniting with her parents, and Viv a little old lady, former WWII army nurse, who is being shipped out to pasture by her children. The two bond and this makes for an interesting story about the young and old in our society.

    This novel is reduced in price on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com, since it is two years old already. And would make the perfect Christmas gift for those who love to read exciting, intelligent, and inspirational stories. And this author wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and best of luck for the coming year.

  7. Catherine says:

    The board game, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, is in stock and you can get it at Amazon (with free shipping.)


  8. I have a huge book collection, so I always love to get book ends. I think they’re great for all readers and there are so many different options out there!

  9. Donn says:

    I love getting books that I don’t know what to make of. And luckily, so does most of my family. Personally enjoyed recommendations? The more the merrier!

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