There is an art to gifting the right book to someone else. And, during a moment in time when e-readers are king, hardcover books can be expensive, and people can be so darn picky, picking the right book isn’t for the faint of heart.
As a bibliophile, I’ve cultivated a wonderful collection of books in my home. In fact, I purchased my home because it had a built-in shelf with exposed brick. I like to collect books that I consider classic reads, from Ready Player One, to Jane Eyre, Harry Potter, and Beloved by Toni Morrison. I curate my books like a gardener, careful to nurture the growth of my mind, intellect, and curiosity. Plus, it’s fun to have nerdy bookends to frame my collection.
So, I have a lot to say when it comes to picking the perfect book as a gift.
Understanding Your Recipient So You Can Give a Book as a Gift
Giving a gift can be fraught with stress. But, giving a book can be even more challenging because you’re hoping that the recipient of your gift will actually enjoy it enough to sit down and take the time to actually read the book.
In a moment in history where people feel like they’re constantly pressed for time, this is a huge expectation on your part. The book has to be good enough to take time out of their day to enjoy. Before you purchase the book ask yourself the following questions:
- How does your friend/mom/dad/etc. Enjoy taking in information? Are they fans of audio books, comics, graphic novels, e-readers, paperbacks or hardcover books? In my case, while I love that audiobooks exist and are a way for vision empaired readers and busy people to enjoy the written word, I personally hate them for me. I really hate them. I’ve found that the narrators of those books never sound like how I imagine the characters to be. Weirdly enough, I found a number of t.v. shows have done an incredible job of casting actors in the roles that I love. One example of this is the Shadowhunters series. Each actor is perfect in their role and I wish they were doing the audio for the actual Shadowhunter books.
- What is their life like? Is your gift recipient constantly traveling for work, is busy with small children, or single and works a ton of hours. For a traveler a digital book may be the best way to gift a book so that they can take it with them anywhere without worrying about the additional weight as they travel. For a busy person who is always on the go, being gifted an Audible subscription may be the best way to help them enjoy their new favorite book.
- What have you noticed? Pay attention to the clues that your gift recipient leaves you. Do they complain about the loss of real books and hate e-readers? That’s a pretty huge clue not to give them an audio book. Are there physical books in their home? Do they have coffee table books on their favorite table and have you seen them actually looking at those books?
It seems obvious that the easiest way to figure out the type of book that you should gift someone is to ask them questions. Some people love to read romances, others consider romances to be on the lowest run of literature.
I love them.
Some readers are obsessed with reading the stories of their favorite idols, world leaders, or intriguing personalities. While I love knowing their stories, I don’t really enjoy reading autobiographies during my downtime.
Innocently flip through the books that you see in the home of your gift recipient to get an idea of what they enjoy.
Understand your friend, family member, colleagues actual active interests. What is it that they enjoy doing?
Do they watch football obsessively, comment on notable figures in a unique area of interest? Pay attention to the topics that they talk about in a positive way, and focus on nurturing that area of interest with a new book.
Don’t Make the #1 Mistake of Gift Giving
Avoid giving the book that you want. Recently my mom gave me a gift that she knew wasn’t my style. I literally said “Mom, this isn’t my style.” Her response “I know, but I thought you would enjoy it.”
Yes, I gave her the side-eye.
And, I may have laughed a little bit because moms are hilarious. And, in case you’re wondering, she gave me a soft jacket that I will only wear inside because it is cozy, but too many colors and a weird material for me to wear outside.
It’s not lost on me that she would absolutely love to wear that jacket all the time. She bought me a jacket that she would love to wear. I’m sure one day she will pop up wearing something similar.
But, let’s be honest, we’ve all given a gift that we would love to receive. Don’t do that. That’s the #1 reason why gifts get returned. It’s the wrong gift for the recipient.
Gift giving should be a joyful occasion. I love buying gifts for the people in my life because it gives me an opportunity to give them something that they would be reluctant to give to themselves because of cost, time, or for a number of reasons why people don’t treat themselves.
Gifting a book should be a joyful experience, not something that you find painful.
Still Don’t Know What Book to Give?
Sometimes we get stumped and still aren’t sure what to give someone else. There’s a tried and true formula that I like to use during moments like these.
First, give 3 books instead of just one. The idea is that if you give three slightly different books that you will likely hit a homerun with at least one. When I do this I tend to give a classic, a current contemporary book on the top #100 list, and something whimsical.
Gift cards are always a wonderful way to empower your reader to find the book or books that are a perfect fit for their personality. Gift cards are great because you’re shifting all of the choice responsibility to the gift recipient.
Don’t forget that you can also gift Audible subscriptions or gift cards as well. Again, allowing your recipient to figure out what they would like and leaving you out of the decision making process.
Giving the gift of a book doesn’t have to be hard, ideally though, it’s an exercise in thoughtfulness. Giving a book doesn’t need to be an intimidating process, and even though I mentioned several steps to doing it well, it shouldn’t take you more than 15-20 minutes to choose well.
Your last resort, pick a book on your favorite online website and send it to them.
Anne loves finding the perfect gift idea that’s on budget. She has been writing about gift giving and personal finance online since 2012, as owner of https://uniquegifter.com. Her favourite beverage is champagne and she loves figure skating, even if it’s harder now that she’s not 20!