Quantcast

Monday, December 28, 2009

Books as Gifts: Homework over Christmas?

Doesn't it seem logical that if you love books, you'll love receiving books as gifts, right?  Well, consider the following: Your Uncle Chester, who you haven't seen in ages, and who knows only that you like to read, surprised you at Christmas with a gleaming new copy of....some book you've never heard of. (Or worse, one you HAVE heard of, like L.A. Candy.)

Reaction A: You smile politely, say "Thanks, I've been meaning to pick this up," and then mentally calculate the profits from your impending ebay sale.

Reaction B: You tell Uncle Chester how delighted you are (and truly mean it!) at his thoughtful gift, explain that you hadn't read this writer before but can't wait to dive in, and then you dive right in.

Which more closely describes your reaction to a gift of a book you didn't specifically ask for?  Me, I'm decidedly Reaction A, and I tend to think most book dorks feel similarly. Here's my logic: If the giver is someone like Uncle Chester, who won't care if you read the book or not, then you're off the hook. Luh-cky! However, if you actually respect and/or are close to the giver, than an unsolicited book gift is essentially a homework assignment. You're expected to read the book promptly and provide a reasonably coherent report. When there are billions of good books out there (including approximately 2,852,329 on my 'to be read' shelf), it's hard to justify "wasting" time on a book that wasn't in the plans. A little jerk-waddy? Probably. And, yes, I do realize there is something to be said for that "it's the thought that counts" cliche. And, I suppose you never know: What if the unsolicited book gift winds up being the most brilliant book you've ever read?  Not likely, but I'm willing to concede the possibility.  ;)

So, what is your take?  Do you enjoy getting unsolicited book gifts? Why? Or, are you like me? Do you feel like you've just been issued a book report assignment, due by the end of the week?

16 comments:

  1. My relatives have stopped giving me books for gifts years ago. This is either because I lean towards Reaction A or they've stopped trying to win my love. Whichever, at least I have not gotten L.A. Candy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It really depends on the book. I usually appreciate receiving any books (since I can generally swap them a Paperback Swap or Bookmooch if they're not my style), but my parents have often surprised me with a book I didn't know about before but actually enjoyed reading.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I seriously cannot remember the last time someone gave me a book for a gift, other than Oh the Places You'll Go upon law school graduation, but I would certainly love it if people did! But no one does. I give everyone books, I read and blog, and I worked 5 years in the bookstore, and now I don't think there's any going back to a level playing field book-gifting-wise. Sigh... although if someone gave me Twilight I would definitely not pretend to like it and would carefully explain the serious error they had made in buying it for me/anyone.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have not been in your position--EVER! Why? Because I tell all who will listen when asked what I want for Christmas 'I don't need anything but if you really want to, just give me a gift card to a book store or cash to go buy a book please and I'll be a happy camper' and they are relieved to hear it. LOL But if I did get a gift of a book that I had absolutely zero interest in reading and said gift giver later wanted to know how I liked it I'd just tell them it wasn't my cup of tea {based on the jacket blurb of course :) }

    ReplyDelete
  5. Gosh, I have never been given..oops that is wrong, yes I have. My mother gave me a book, written by the Dalai Lama a couple of years ago. She even picked one that not only talks about Buddhism, it compared science and Buddhism. It was a good choice, but I had already read it. She was disappointed but I was thrilled that she finally bought me a book.
    I am really picky about the books I read so I have a feeling I would fall into category A. Books are very personal. After all we spend precious time reading them. I would not like the idea of reading a book just to make someone else happy. Wow, now that I think about it, I am glad I do not receive unsolicited books.

    ReplyDelete
  6. No one except my husband ever gives me books as gifts, probably because everyone knows I'm a voracious reader and have probably read that book already!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love giving books, but you're right. Many people don't like books as gifts, especially ones who don't read a lot! In that case, I try to find them a good cookbook or coffeetable book. As for me, if it's a book I'll probably like it, that is if it's not sci fi, the supernatural, vampires, or overly violent.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think I am in catagory A also. When my Mom asked me what books I wanted for Christmas I made a list. Though sometimes it does backfire. Currently I am reading a book I asked for for my birthday back in Nov. It is terrible and I am struggling through it very slowly. I feel like I have to finish it because my brother gave it to me and he is natorious for giving me gifts that I don't want/doesnt fit/can't use/etc (think rocket ship earrings, bundgie cords, stuffed animals). And he was so excited that he got me something I finally wanted! Ironic, so I keep trudging through for him..

    ReplyDelete
  9. The last time someone bought me a book or Christmas it turned out to be an underhanded insult - the title was "The Traitorous Daughter", hmmm subtle and was a genre I never read. Reaction A and hysterical laughter ensued. Other than that, people don't give me unsolicited book gifts as I think they don't know what to give me. Being a bookworm has this awful lip side - you love books but then your loved ones don't know which ones to buy you. Even when you post a Christmas Wishlist on your blog ;) hehe

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is totally in reference to your comment on my blog.. I sadly think she did write it all herself. It's so dry and boring that there is no way someone could've been paid to write that whose an actual writer. She must have written it. Must have. It's utter crap and so incredibly boring. I can't wait to get rid of it from my house. Pathetic and a waste of paper and a cause of headaches for real authors out there.

    ReplyDelete
  11. There are only two people who know my reading tastes well enough to get me unsolicited books- my mom and dad. My mom's a librarian and my dad's a book dealer, so they know their stuff (and mine as well). Beyond that, please give me a gift card, ya know what I mean?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh, I dread receiving books as gifts -- unless the books are titles that I've specifically requested.

    For pete's sake, I don't even read about 1/4 of the books I check out from the library -- and those are books I've selected *for myself.* So I really get uneasy about someone else trying to pick books for picky little me.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It was about 25 years ago, but my fiance (now my wife) gave me Lee Iacocca's biography (which I enjoyed very much) but she was very upset that I read the Baghavid Gita first which my brother had clearly bought from a cult member in the airport.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I saw this post a while ago and have been meaning to comment, because I feel totally the opposite of how you feel! I LOVE it when people give me gifts as books. ESPECIALLY when they are books I have never heard of. And even if they are books that I have heard of and yet have previously felt no desire to read.
    I guess the thing is - I just like to read, and I am very not picky at all about what I read. And so if someone else thinks I might like a book, even if I had never previously thought about it, I probably will. And if in the end I don't, well, I will have gotten to have a new and different reading experience.
    I guess I also don't feel obliged to read them right away. Because most of the people giving me books KNOW that I have a huge tbr pile and that it might therefore take me a while to get to said book. THey also KNOW that I eventually will.

    Although I admit that if someone were to give me L.A. Candy, I might be slightly disappointed. :-P

    ReplyDelete
  15. @brizmus - Interesting take, thanks for commenting! ...and for making me feel like an ungrateful jerk. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Everyone in my family knows I'm a book collector a massive reader; and they also know I'm a reviewer on a blog too! So, if they want to know what I've read, they just go there. Most of the time, a lot of my family haven't been to my house in the last few years (immediate family, yes. Other family, no), so when it comes to giving me books they ask me what I'd like and I'll give them my bookcrossing url advise them to go to my Wish List there; where all the books I'd like to have in my hands and haven't read are listed. Then they have no worries of getting me a book that I have read or will double-up on by accident.
    Or if they can't find a book in the list (or find it too expensive), they do have the choice of giving me a book voucher from my favourite store or Borders; and I can delve into the place and come out with whatever my hands can carry.

    Being able to shelve those books is another thing. I do have 500 books here at home and I'm trying to clean up the somewhat small office I have to save myself buying another bookcase; as I've got 4 bookcases and really do need a 5th one!

    ReplyDelete