December 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
Christmas is just around the corner, but some of us haven’t done their gift shopping yet. As we all know, the world was supposed to end today, but here we are, safe and sound. Those who seriously believed in the apocalypse probably didn’t even bother to buy Christmas presents this year, and now they need an emergency plan. The same thing goes for the usual procrastinators who never do their holiday shopping before the 23rd. So we proudly present
The Kitten Review’s Handy Guide to Giving Books as Presents
I love giving books as presents and I have a whole pile on my shelf, neatly wrapped in reindeer-themed holiday paper. But of course you can’t just go to the bookstore and grab ten copies of the same bestseller – most people probably wouldn’t notice, but you as a Literary Santa should pay some attention to what book you pick for whom.
What are you saying? Your friends and family don’t read? Here’s why you should give them books nevertheless: Not all books require a lot of reading effort. There are books for all kinds of people, and if you follow some simple rules, your book present will even make a non-reader smile. A hardcover copy of your all-time favourite novel might seem incredibly precious to you, but it’s not the appropriate gift for your teenage cousin.
Disclaimer: All characters appearing in the following list are fictitious. Any resemblance to members of my family is purely coincidental.*
The elderly relative
The elderly relative spends most of her days sitting on the sofa, watching the same three channels on television and solving crossword puzzles. She is not very talkative and you actually have no idea if she has any special interests. From time to time, she will pick up a novel and read a couple of pages. The keyword here is quantity. The elderly relative has a lot of time on her hands, and she doesn’t care much about the style of a work of literature. I recommend historical fiction – a 700 page novel about a medieval midwife or a 1888 London doctor should keep her busy until her next birthday, or even until next Christmas.
The cosmopolitan couple
The cosmopolitan couple just came back from their Christmas shopping in London and immediately updated their facebook profile pictures. Whatever they do, they seem to do it together, and they like to wear matching sunglasses. Now, you have two choices, either you treat them as one and give them one book, preferably a coffee table book about New York or South East Asia, or you treat them as ying and yang and give them complimentary books. The cosmopolitan couple travels a lot, and if you know their next destination, you could get them a city guide and a travel dictionary.
The scientist collects butterflies, weather maps and unread books. He always orders heaps of books from catalogues, but he hardly ever actually reads them. He has a passion for books, but be careful – it might take him several years to finish a novel. It’s almost impossible to find a book from his field that he doesn’t have yet, so the safest option is a book that treats something remotely sciency. Usually, the scientist is also an atheist, so a book that disproves the existence of god is a good choice. (Or a book on evolution, but to some people, that’s just a tomayto-tomahto question.)
The casual reader
The casual reader has built up a respectable book collection in her lifetime that spans from A (Douglas Adams) to Z (Juli Zeh) and covers almost every genre and era. But that doesn’t mean that you can just get her the first book you see in the book store! For the casual reader, reading is a pleasure, a counterpart to her working life. Although she mainly reads for entertainment, she despises shallow novels, so you should avoid the average chick-lit at all costs. The casual reader likes intelligent and witty writing, so I would recommend some good satire or a well-written crime novel.
From an earlier article, you know that I consider reading and literature crucial for every child. However, not all parents agree with me and pass on that attitude to their kids. But don’t give up! Many children eventually discover the joys of reading. Try to find a book that has something to do with their favourite hobby, or maybe something related to a movie/TV franchise. Just hope that the kids won’t walk up to you with their brandnew books, shove them into your face and tell you that “If I wanted to read that, I could get it at the library. But I don’t want it anyway.”
The literature lover
Ah, here comes the most difficult type. The literature lover is very picky about what books they want, and of course they already have hundreds of books. It’s relatively likely that you either give them a book they already have or one they wouldn’t even be caught dead reading. If you want to give them a book, make sure that you know them really well or ask them if they want a particular book.
Yes, I consider myself a literature lover. And of course this will come off as arrogant, but as long as I don’t specifically ask for a book, don’t give me one. Unless you’re Anas. If you’re Anas, give me all your books. In return, if you’re Anas, you’ll receive all my books for Christmas.
The Kitten Review wishes you happy holidays and a happy new year!
* Of course, this is a downright lie. Every person on this list is based on someone I know.