“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” – Garrison Keillor
As someone who loves to both give and receive books as gifts at Christmas time, I know how difficult it can be to nail down just what to get. I’m one of those particularly tricky people to buy books for because I constantly loan the books I’ve already read to friends and family. There were a few times when one of my parents snuck into my room to check out the status of my book shelves only to buy me a book that I already had but had loaned to someone else. In more recent years, my parents have taken to using different tactics.
My mother asks me if I have Book X because she knows someone who would like to borrow it if I do. When I say that, no, I don’t have it but have been meaning to get it, she knows that it’s safe to go ahead and get it for me. My father tends to borrow one of my books and when he’s done he asks me if I have any more by that writer/on a similar subject matter. I let him know which ones I have that he’s welcome to borrow and he’ll get me one that he’s interested in so he has a chance to read it too (and probably before I get around to it). There’s also my brother’s tactic, though I really don’t recommend it for anyone. At the holidays I find a book I really want, tell my parents I really want it, even buy it and give it to them to give to me and then they turn around and give it to my brother to give to me because he couldn’t/ wouldn’t think of anything.
Ultimately, the best way to ensure a book lover gets the book he or she wants most is to 1) ask them what they want or 2) let them pick it out themselves with a gift card. Gift cards are even better for those who have e-Readers like Nook or Kindle. In many cases their amounts can be saved to an account online for later use.
Just remember though, the stories that come from trying to find a subtle way to figure it out are a lot more fun to tell.