Guest Post: Is gifting books classy or pompous?

Everyone lives in their own little world of social norms. Upon realizing this fact, I’ve enjoyed questioning many of my life choices. Who doesn’t enjoy a strong shot of self-reflection? It’s led to a few realizations of hypocrisy. For example, I’m mostly a pacifist except when it comes to spiders. Spiders should be smitten from the earth. With fire and lightning. Maybe firey lighting. Anyway, I digress. What I wanted to talk to the internet about is that I love gifting books, but don’t enjoy when people give me books. Is that craziness?

Probably. Let me explain my feelings. Then please, pretty please, give me your opinions.

Reasons to Gift Books

I frequently read a book and feel like it’s perfect for someone. I also frequently never know what to buy people on occasions when I’m supposed to give them presents. Thus I give books. I’m either lazy or efficient. My buying them the book and telling them to read it is nicer than alternative ways of making people read books. At least I don’t throw the books through their window, break into their rooms and write the book on their walls, or make themย buy the book themselves. Most of my family members receive books for all major holidays. I get to make people read a book, usually one I enjoyed, and support book stores. Also authors. Win-win for me.

Giving a book can be extremely personalized. I hunt for the perfect book. The shopping is a thoughtful process. I don’t just buy everyone Harry Potter even though everyone in the world should read Harry Potter. No. I get deep into genres. I find out who enjoys mysteries with a scientific concentration and fast-pacing and a strong female lead. Time for a Bones novel. I try to personalize the gift as much as possible depending on how well I know the receiver.

I’ve gifted books for years and never had any complaints. However, my family and loved ones are polite. I’m not sure they’d tell me if they didn’t like my presents. I would never tell someone I didn’t like a present unless it really offended me. Maybe if I was given a book on being seen and not heard. That would spark sass. Otherwise I will cherish any item wrapped in shiny paper handed my way.

Reasons I Don’t Want Books as Presents

Please don’t buy me a book. Why, you shout at me. I have a whole blog about books. I love books. All the books. It would seem a logical conclusion to gift me a book. However, I already have many books. Lots of them. You don’t know me! You don’t know what I’m reading right now or already own. If I get a book that is part of a series then you’ve committed me to a whole series of books. This is committing time, emotion, and space I don’t necessarily possess. Stop being so presumptive.

Alternative Gifts for Book Lovers

If you do need to buy a book lover a gift and want to stab me for being a hypocrite, please wait. I will not leave you without hope. I’m a Pinterest addict and have a whole board full of nerdy loves. Booky presents that are not books do exist. Buy your book lover an awesome shelf for their books, a reading rack for the bath tub (the ones that also hold wine are coolest), nerdy apparel from already loved books, book lights, book ends, books that are actually hollow and store stuff, or book jewelry. All of these things exist. Promise.

Otherwise, give people cash. Give the people what they want! Who doesn’t want more cash? Cash can be turned into a book or any of these cool gift ideas. It can also be folded into cranes. So much potential!

That’s it. I have no more thoughts. Feed me your thoughts! Do you like giving or receiving books? Do you have a different go-to gift for book lovers?ย 

-Caitlin

The Book Bard

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22 thoughts on “Guest Post: Is gifting books classy or pompous?

  1. My reasoning for not giving books as gifts is exactly the same as it is for not wanting them, basically the same as your reasons for not wanting them as gifts. No one knows me. No one knows what I’m reading. And I have no idea what any other person is reading or how many books they have. But what I don’t understand is that you say people are being presumptive by gifting you books, but then you make it sound completely okay if you’re the one doing it. Why is that?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Clearly I’m a crazy person. I wrote the post because I realized my thinking was contradictory. I’m leaning towards revising my book giving policy. I think I’m going to have to start giving the gifts I listed in the alternative section. You actually inspired part of this reflection when questioning one of my comments about giving books on a previous post you made. Or I will strive to learn to read minds and then I will be able to give the perfect book.

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      • Haha I remember that comment! You said that they don’t have to like the books you read but they have to try them, right? And I asked you why and I don’t think you replied. I’d say just pick one philosophy and use it for giving and receiving. If you don’t like getting them, then don’t give them. If you do want to give them, then be okay when someone wants yo give you one. Although reading minds wouldn’t hurt. ๐Ÿ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I still love receiving books. But, those that plan to buy me a book usually ask me what I’m wanting to read. So, I usually get what I want. Yay!

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  3. Pingback: Guest Post: Is gifting books classy or pompous? | The Book Bard

  4. i absolutely agree. If there’s a specific book I want, it goes on my list, which the family is free to read. Also, just send me Amazon vouchers for my kindle. If, however someone wants to track down and buy me a first edition of a classic, then i will not hate the giver.

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  5. I actually love getting books as gifts (not necessarily as presents for Christmas or my birthday, but rather when people decide to give me a book they own) as it reminds me of the person who gave it to me when I see it on my shelf, as well as maybe where I was living at the time, what experiences I was going through, etc. What I don’t like is how I will allow my perception of that person to influence my priority in reading the book they gave me. I would be more excited to read a book given to me by a romantic interest than by a former childhood teacher, even though perhaps the latter book might be a better read for me.

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  6. Best post ever! Read the whole thing, and yes, I think I get the moral…. spiders should be eliminated by fiery lightning (roar of the lighting flame dragon for you fellow anime fans). OK, serious business now, I’m not really sure about gifting books, most people just want inspirational books over here, which I’m not really into. *sigh* im sorry, I was drawn here by the killing of spiders, and the cash cranes!, let’s not forget those๐Ÿ˜Š.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I rarely give books, unless it’s someone I’m incredibly close to and know they will appreciate and enjoy what I am giving them. In general, I’m a huge fan of gift cards to book stores; almost all my friends are massive bookworms and this way they are sure to get something they will really really like (it’s usually the only time I will allow myself gift cards- not a huge fan)
    However, i love to get books as gifts myself. Mostly because it helps me expand my reading horizons to something new, and it also, in a weird way, gives me a sense of closeness to whoever gifted the book. Whenever someone says “here’s a book I really liked, i think you’ll enjoy it” it gives me the realization that not only was I being thought of as they were reading it, but that in reading something that spoke to them I might be able to understand a little bit more about that person.
    Sorry about the long-winded speech! I guess I’m kinda passionate about this ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tricky one- I discovered my favourite book series after receiving an omnibus for Christmas (and was subsequently absent from family activities for the next 3 days) but I’ve also received books that take up valuable space that could be otherwise used by … Y’know….. Good books.

    I can never give books as surprise gifts, I have to discuss their tastes thoroughly and rummage through their shelves before risking it.

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  9. Honestly giving books as gifts is tricky. As much as a gift card is slightly insulting to a bookstore may

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    • (sorry I got cut off) seem like a bad idea. I feel it makes more sense then giving them a book you an unsure they will like or even read. Of course if you have an idea what they have read and liked it can help, but tastes can change as a person ages.
      Honestly if I’m receiving books as a gift, I usually just send the buyer to my Amazon Wish list or to my goodreads “to read” bookshelf.

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  10. I give lots of books as presents, but only to adults I know well or to children whose parents I can talk to about their reading. I know other parents who do the same – I had lots of texts over the last few weeks about what my son was reading because it was his birthday and he was given mainly books as presents.
    When people ask what I want for birthday or Christmas presents, I have a list of titles I’d like to read – or book vouchers please.
    Nothing I love more than a book voucher ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Book vouchers are pretty great! I’m sensing a trend that lists of what people actually want are the way to go. I might have to start stalking people on Amazon/Goodreads/Pinterest.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha! Stalking, night-time surveillance, bugging their phone, rummaging through their bins for book shop receipts … that’s all acceptable in the name of literature, right?

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Yeah, pretty much any book I’ve ever gifted to someone never was read, unless it was on their wish list for their birthday or holiday. I’ve stopped giving books as gifts because I don’t like giving them as gifts. The only books I enjoy as gifts are ones I request or are on my wish list. Every other book someone has gifted me, I haven’t read or enjoyed because it just wasn’t what I wanted or liked.
    The only books I gift now without them being on a list is for little kids or at baby showers. Otherwise, unless it’s on a list, I won’t buy it. Although I, too, am a Pinterest addict and love to give nerdy bookish gifts that other book lovers would like.

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  12. I only ever ask for books as gifts. ๐Ÿ˜€ I just make sure the gift-giver has a list of books I actually want. Or at least a list of books I’ve already read before…

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