Why I’ve Started Giving Books As Gifts

I’ve always been a lousy gift giver. I want to give great gifts, but my brain mostly doesn’t work that way. My sister-in-law is one of those talented people who always seems to know the perfect gift. Over the years, she’s gotten me a subscription to Writer’s Digest, a subscription to the Book of the Month Club, and Alice In Wonderland pajamas. And this clock:

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Every once in awhile, I’ll be out somewhere and spot the perfect thing. But mostly… not.

A few years ago, I had an inspiration to start requesting other people’s favorite books as gifts. It seemed like a fun idea, and I liked seeing what other people picked. Then I realized that one thing I know pretty well is books. People come to me for recommendations, and since I read across many genres, I’m usually pretty good at figuring out what others will like.

As adults, most of us no longer want to receive more stuff. Sticking to consumables just makes sense to me, but does anyone really want to receive more food at Christmas?

Enter books. They’re personal gifts that never expire. They’re decorative. They’re fun. And best of all, they’re thoughtful gifts that I can actually give. It’s fun to think about what each person on my shopping list might like.

What’s the best gift you’ve given or received?

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My 2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide

IMG_1551‘Tis the season… when people ask me what I want for Christmas.  I try to think of things, but I’m really, really bad at it.  I never need anything.  I have a laptop, an iPod, and a warm place to sleep.  I have my dogs and books.  And no one’s going to buy me books anyway; it’s a daunting task.

The thing is, I’m both easy and hard to buy for.  If you buy it for me, I’ll probably like it.  I love pretty things, useless things.  I’m fond of blown glass, prisms, kalidoscopes.  I love anything steampunk Alice in Wonderland and pictures of old ferris wheels (though I hate riding the ferris wheel).  I like things that are handmade or vintage.

Over the years I’ve gotten lots of gifts, and I’ve appreciated them all.  I appreciate the most the ones that take time and effort, and clearly say, “I was thinking of you!”

The best gifts I’ve ever gotten, in no particular order:

Turtles.  Lots of turtles from my sister.  She doesn’t give them to me because I like turtles (though I do now); that’s a different story.  These days, I collect turtles.  And when I think of turtles, I think of her.  My sister also got me this monster spoon holder one year.  It sits on my counter and always makes me smile.

Hummingbird gave me an awesome picture of my crisis family when I left crisis.  It wasn’t for Christmas, but was definitely one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten.

Around 8th grade, JJ gave me a paperweight with flowers in it, for Christmas, I think.  I wasn’t expecting it because I was never very nice to him, but it’s sat on every desk I’ve ever owned since then.  It always reminds me of the power of friendship.  We might not be talk-on-the-phone friends anymore, but the power of Facebook allows me to see how he’s doing and wish him health, happiness, and love.

Last year, my sister in law gave me pictures of ferris wheels drawn in charcoal by a friend of hers.  It combines multiple things I love and was pretty unexpected.

The first Christmas we were together, my husband got me a signed, first edition Watchers, by Dean Koontz.  I think I cried.  Last year, he got me a Jambox and and UP.  Also very awesome gifts.  I like them because I use them almost every day.

This is why I can never say what I want for Christmas.  I wouldn’t have asked for any of those things.  I could ask for specific books or other this or that I want, but it wouldn’t be meaningful.  To me, Christmas is about stepping outside your comfort zone, taking what you know about someone you love, and finding a cool thing.  Sometimes it’ll be a hit, and sometimes a miss, but it’s not the gift that’s important.  It’s the effort and the time.  It’s the thought behind it.