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Gifts for readers


By Kathy Pillatzki
Assistant Director
Henry County Library System

  What gift could possibly be better than a book? In the words of young adult author Neil Gaiman, “Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside them, and it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world.”

  I couldn’t have said it better myself. Yet buying a book for someone else is undeniably tricky. Maybe you don’t know them well enough yet to know their tastes, or you want to buy for someone who is a voracious reader and you suspect they’ve already read everything. I know one person who’s a devoted reader but his taste is limited to one very narrow and specific genre that’s unfamiliar to me.

  While books are our number-one recommendation for gift giving, if you find yourself in one of those hard-to-navigate situations, consider something book-related instead.

  There are entire companies devoted to book-related merchandise. A quick online search reveals that you can buy t-shirts, sweatshirts, blank books, coffee mugs, and practically anything else you can think of with quotations, illustrations, or cover art from just about any well-known book. A sturdy tote bag with a quote from a favorite writer would provide your recipients with something to carry the books they already have.

  There are also some low-tech gadgets that readers love. Book lights are small, battery operated, and clip to the book itself, only illuminating the page at hand-perfect for those who like to read in bed but don’t want to disturb a slumbering partner. One of my favorites is the book weight. It’s usually a flat, double thickness of leather, about six inches long, with weights sewn into each end. Laid across an open book, it allows hands-free reading without the book flipping itself shut. Anyone who has ever tried to follow a recipe in a thick cookbook or decipher how-to instructions of any kind will appreciate this.

  For the true book aficionado, even one who seems to have read everything, there are still plenty of options. Internet shopping makes it easy to locate a first edition or even an autographed copy of a favorite title, and many of them are surprisingly affordable. Or consider a reading journal, handy for tracking what you’ve read, what you liked, recommendations from friends, and what you plan to read next.

  Then there’s that rare and mysterious creature, the non-reader. I truly believe that no literate person is really a non-reader. I have one friend who staunchly claims, “I’m not a reader. I got enough of that in school.” Yet there are several magazines that she reads faithfully. Likewise, I never saw my grandfather pick up a book other than the Bible, but he read the newspaper cover to cover every single day.

  Magazine or newspaper subscriptions are a great gift that can be enjoyed all year. The key is to let go of what you think others should read, and get them what they will enjoy. If they only read comic books or celebrity gossip magazines that you wouldn’t be caught dead reading, give them comics or gossip rags. It’s Christmas, after all.

  And if you need another reason to consider a reading-related gift this season, consider this profound bit of wisdom from actress Amy Sedaris: "Books make great gifts because they're easy to wrap!" Can’t argue with that.



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