The Do’s and Don’ts for Book Gifting

Unless you’re one of those intolerable angels who does all their Christmas shopping in the first week of December, then the panic of having to prove to your friends and family that you love them through your consumer choices has fully set in. Christmas is in less than a week, and the sanctity of your soul is on the line. Now for book lovers, gift giving options are limited. You could either give someone a book, or- wait, no that’s it. Now that you’ve whittled down your choices, here are some helpful tips that should prevent you from totally disgracing yourself. 

DO get something you’ve read:

This one is a safe bet. You had a good time reading the thing, and you wanna share some of that joy. It’s a clear message, and it’s not an iTunes gift card. Fantastic. 


DON’T do non-fiction unless you know they’re interested in the subject:

Gifting non-fiction is a risk. The last thing anyone wants for Christmas is a homework assignment, and if you gift something too esoteric, it may seem like you’re saying: ‘Here, dumb dumb. Read this so you can hold your end of the conversation.’ Instead, think carefully about what topics and authors your loved ones care about.


DON’T just get a bestseller:

It may be tempting to go straight for the bestseller pile, but that can seem impersonal. Similarly, don’t buy something just cause it won a Pulitzer, or a Man Booker. It makes you seem like a tasteless dolt, and it makes the giftee feel like a philistine.  

DO buy a series:

If someone you know is chugging along at a series, buying the books one by one, schlepping their way to the book store, dropping 20 bucks on the next volume, ease their pain by buying them the complete series! They run for a lot, but it’s more substantial and thoughtful than just one book.


DO buy complete works or anthologies:

Complete works of an author or poet are also very expensive and sometimes rare. If you know someone’s favorite author, try tracking down their complete works or an anthology. Seriously, it’s a great gift, that they’ll come back to for years to come. 


DO buy letters:

Serious devotees to literature read their favorite authors’ letters, along with their published works. Laymen may not, because a) they’re hard to find and b) they can cost you a lot. So help them out and buy some letters!


DON’T with the macabre:

I know literature is supposed to be unrelenting, but let’s not completely squash the holiday spirit. You want to avoid causing your giftee severe existential dread during their vacation. So shoot for something funny! Laughs are priceless. 


DON’T with ‘coffee table books’

Coffee table books have their purpose, but they make terrible gifts. Especially if you already have a full coffee table, you’re just adding to someone’s clutter. And a disposable gift is like an errand in a box, so just don’t bother. 


DO cookbooks

Yeah, they’re fine. 




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