Years ago, my local Barnes & Noble had a Christmas tree set up in the center of the store. It was decorated with gift tags, and each tag had the name and age of a local boy or girl who was in need of a Christmas gift. I had so much fun buying books for boys and girls that year. I haven’t seen anything like it since, though my school did a book drive for a local chapter of Girls Inc. I don’t know why I haven’t seen the tree idea used again. I suppose it’s possible it wasn’t very successful, but I find it hard to believe (of course, that’s also because I bought a lot of the books myself, so naturally I assumed others did, too).
I find it harder and harder to figure out what books people might like for Christmas. Even me. I hate to admit it, but I’d much rather receive a bookstore gift card than a book. I can spend the money on whatever strikes my fancy at the moment. I find this to be true even if I want a particular book, though I can’t say why, particularly because a book chosen as a gift usually sends the message, “I saw this and thought of you,” or “I loved this and wanted you to love it, too.” And I love to give books, even if I do have trouble figuring out what others will like.
One of my new roles at work involves working on the YA collection in our library. I also give book talks to the middle schoolers, and I absolutely love sharing books I enjoyed with them. Even more, I love it when they tell me how much they enjoyed a book. A student who heard my last book talk stopped me in the hall to tell me she read The Fault in Our Stars in one evening and just loved it. Their teacher recently told me that many of her students were already finished with the books, which they had to read over their holiday break, and were requesting them for Christmas.
In a way, I almost feel like I gave those books as gifts, even though I didn’t physically do it. However, I have several books that have been given to me, book I actually really want to read, and I haven’t read them yet. Maybe 2013 is the year I need to do that. It feels sort of rude not to read a book given to me as a gift.
So what books are you giving for Christmas? What books do you hope to receive?
Merry Christmas to everyone.