Friday, January 11, 2013

What I Gave For Christmas

So yesterday's Booking Through Thursday got me thinking. What kind of books are good to give as gifts?

Buying bookish presents can be challenging! Working in a bookstore I have all day to try out ideas; it's fascinating to watch what comes across the register, what I'm stacking on the shelves or what I come across as I go about any number of my daily tasks. Even when I don't have time to browse, which I actually rarely do, I still get so many ideas all day long!

Come In, We're Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World's Best Restaurants, by Christine Carroll, was a gift to a young woman who's on her way to medical school but who has been working at a number of fine-dining restaurants part time for the past few years. It's a cookbook and a documentary coffee-table book as well.

For my crime-fiction-reading father in law, I bought a handful of first-in-series detective novels set around the world. Included in his gift basket were:
  • He Died With His Eyes Open, by Derek Raymond, a literary noir set in England;
  • Happy Birthday, Turk! by Jacob Arjouni, a comic noir with a serious underside set in Germany;
  • Death and the Penguin, by Andrey Kurkov, a surreal and funny noir set in Ukraine, and
  • The Ghosts of Belfast, by Stuart Neville, set in Northern Ireland.
For a hard-to-buy for aunt and uncle who love dogs, I picked The New Yorker Book of Dogs. How can you go wrong? And actually, I didn't- I got one of the sweetest thank you notes ever from them!

For friends with different interests, I bought copies of some of my favorite novels and passed them out as best I could. For a science fiction reader I got The Islanders by Christopher Priest, an elaborate puzzle book by one of our best living SF writers. For a friend who likes womens' fiction I bought The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton, one of my very favorite novels and my bestest selling staff pick at work, and for a book-loving relative who doesn't normally read realistic fiction, I picked Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese, because I just really hope she'll love it anyway. I also gave her a homemade quilt to cuddle up in with that or any other book she'd like to read.

My husband loves to read and has almost as many books as I do, so I never run out of ideas for him. He got Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise, The Extremities by Christopher Priest and lots of Doctor Who reference books.

I gave Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) by Norman Russell, to my mother in law, because she loves Venice and cooking. The book is beautifully produced with exposed Coptic stitching and gorgeous photographs. She liked it so much we had to remind her to open the rest of her presents!

Books are the best holiday gifts. You truly can find something for everyone; even if your giftee doesn't like to read, there are cookbooks, craft books, and lots of other choices at your local independent bookstore. Don't forget about them for birthdays and other celebrations all year long!


Sandy Nawrot said...

You put such thought into your gifts! See this is why you are such a successful book seller. And I think I want to be adopted into your family...a quilt and a book? HEAVEN!

Suzanne said...

I agree. I love giving books out as gifts.
I had a student last term tell me that if she got a book as a gift she'd bin it. Sad, isn't it?

gabrielle said...

your father in law is going to love the Derek Raymond book. i can't wait to read the rest of the series.

Alex in Leeds said...

I love the way you tried to match reading tastes to books you knew. I think most of the duff books I've ever been given were from people who meant well but didn't know my niches of the book world and didn't ask - I'm sure a good bookseller would have steered them better than they guessed. Still, any book as a gift is wonderful. I can't believe anyone would bin books if they received them!

bermudaonion said...

I'm sure everyone was pleased and I can tell you gave their gifts a lot of thought.

Zibilee said...

The thought that goes into the gift of the book is almost a gift in itself, and that's why I love to buy books for anyone whenever I can. I loved buying my husband a few science fiction titles that I know he will love, along with a humorous dog book. He was so happy with these gifts! Great job at picking, Marie!

Booksnyc said...

A quilt AND a book? Can I be your friend?!

I love giving books based on the recipient's interests or well-loved books of mine. Books always feature in gifts for my niece and nephew.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I love giving books as a gift. I'm lucky and most of my friends like to read (some more than others, but I can usually come up with something for each of them). I like the idea of mixing things up though, like a cookbook or a collection of books. The crime fiction novels from around the world is really awesome. Off to check those out.


Jenners said...

I'm jealous that you're married to a reader!!!

Kathleen said...

I love giving books as gifts and trying to figure out what people will want. I gave my son the Nate Silver book, but not for Christmas. Hope your husband enjoys it!