Friday, November 28, 2014

"And Something to Read:" A Guide to Selecting the Perfect Literary Gift

As far as gift-giving is concerned, you may have heard the phrase that it's best to get for others "something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read."  That phrase is something I like to keep in mind when selecting gifts for loved ones.  Particularly the "something to read" part.  

I love giving books as gifts, but sometimes it can be difficult to select just the right book.  A vintage copy of War and Peace might be perfect for one friend, but may come off as pretentious to another.  A book of Van Gogh images might be just right for the coffee table of a different friend, but may just collect dust on the back of someone else's bookshelf.  

Clearly I worry way too much about this.

Among my anxiety over selecting books for various friends and family members, I've found a few tips to help me in my selection.  Want to give a book as a gift this holiday season, but aren't sure what book to give?  I've got you covered.  Here are some different kinds of books for you to consider on your journey to selecting just the right book for your loved one.

Consider Books with Phenomenal Covers
I have a theory that books are much more likely to be read if it has a pretty cover.  But, even if that fails, they can use the book as a decoration or a conversation starter.
Suggestions: any book from the Penguin clothbound classics or drop caps line.

Consider Books that Reflect its Recipient's Interests
Want to get a book for someone who frankly doesn't read much?  Look to their other interests.  Books on cooking, style, or even books that are mostly pictures (I'm talking about professional photographs, not children's board books) may be just the ticket.

Consider Nostalgic Books
Maybe your friend used to love the Anne of Green Gables book when they were younger.  Or maybe they loved the Peter Rabbit books as a child.  An updated edition of these beloved stories will bring up happy memories and will beg to be read again.
Suggestions: The Hobbit; James and the Giant Peach; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Consider Award Winning Books
Maybe your loved one only wants to read one book per year.  Better make it a good one!  Look up what books won prestigious awards in recent and past years, and you'll have a pretty hefty list of books to choose from.
Suggestions: The Goldfinch; The Black Count; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Consider Hot Topic Books
Click over to and news headline and you'll see articles on Ebola, police brutality, and human trafficking, among others.  These are all serious topics, but they deserve to be discussed.  Giving a book about hot topics such as these is certain to get a worthy discussion going.
Suggestions: I Am Malala; 41: A Portrait of my Father; Food: A Love Story; Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Consider Old Books to Start a Collection
I'm a little biased when it comes to this tip, as I have an old book collection myself.  I love my old books.  I love the charm and character they bring to my bookshelf.  And every time I receive an old book for a birthday or holiday I am beside myself with glee.  (Even if your loved one only has normal amounts of happiness associated with old books, it's still a great gift.)
Suggestions: This is a good resource (and is where I found the books in the above image), but it's probably best if you check out your local indie bookstore.

Consider Classics
If nothing else feels right, classic books are the way to go.  Everyone has a connection to classic literature through school, even if they haven't read a classic since they were assigned to in high school.  It's never to late to start, and never too early to re-read some favorites.  Plus, many classics have been around for decades, and have dozens of beautiful editions for you to choose from.  No one regrets having a classic on their bookshelf.
Suggestions: To Kill a Mockingbird; Pride and Prejudice; The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; etc.

What other tips would you add?

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