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December 8, 2010

Books as Gifts - One Size Fits All?

Posted by Dana

whattogive.There are good gifts and there are bad gifts.  Well maybe not bad gifts exactly.  I mean the idea that someone is gifting you is pretty good no matter what, but some gifts undoubtedly fall short of the mark.

You know the ones I mean.  The ones where you open the package and go "Mmmm -  Ohhhh - uh - thanks.  I uh really love it."

I've always said that books make perfect gifts.  You don't have to worry about size or fit.  The item doesn't have to make your friend or family member's butt look smaller.  The color doesn't have to be right.  It doesn't have to match their decor, etc., etc.  But when you really think about it, buying the perfect book for someone could be as hard as picking out the perfect sweater.

The key to excellent gift-giving is knowing the recipient.  And listening when they talk.  For example, I've known my step-father for around 20 years, but I only learned earlier this year that he really likes wristwatches.  This knowledge opens up a whole new gift possibility for him.  But if I hadn't been listening, I could have easily missed that little tidbit.

Books are much the same way.  You have to know that your Dad loves history - or that Aunt Sally loves to bake.  It's important to know whether or not your best friend reads fiction or prefers self-help.  But if you listen, just a little, or ask a few sneaky questions, you could probably ascertain that info pretty easily.

And then your job becomes super easy.  There are so many great new books in all categories released just in time for holiday giving and plenty of independent bookstore owners and online guides available to point you in the right direction.  I may be a little biased, but I say a great place to start is with the What to Give, What to Get Guide!

With a just a teensy bit of digging, you will amaze your friends and family with how well you know them.

My only warning is this - stay away from books on how to make someone better unless they've specifically requested them.  I can tell you from experience, getting a book on weight loss and another on financial responsibility from your Mom is a little off-putting, even if well intentioned!!

Happy Shopping and Reading!

-- Dana Barrett, Contributing Editor