Jeanne asked the other day about the books I was buying to give as gifts and as I've now completed my Christmas shopping, I can finally answer.
I'm fairly wary about buying books for others. My tastes don't usually synch well with those in the extended family and I'm more apt to recommend books to friends or to loan out my own copy than to purchase another one for them to have. My friend W. and I buy books for one another, but we give them as birthday presents and we often run suggestions by one another before we make the final selection.
I've always found it easy to select books for my kids, but now that they're grown, it makes more financial sense to let them make their reading selections from the books already in the house. I'm giving two novels to my daughter this Christmas--I chose one because the library copy I'd read perfectly represents a narrative voice R's expressed interest in studying and the other's sort of a wild card--based on what I read on one blog, it sounds like something someone with her major would enjoy. (I can't give the names of these books at the moment because she reads the blog.) My son's getting two works of nonfiction--this year's tome on behavioral economics (he's quite fond of behavioral economics) and his wild card selection, a book of survival skills.
My mother-in-law's favorite book this year--and definitely her favorite book to give as a gift--is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book I've yet to read despite the fact that I recommended it to W. just yesterday. Based on her affection for this book, I felt safe selecting
G.B. Edwards' The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, the only book about Guernsey Island that I've read (and totally enjoyed), and Helene Hanff's 84, Charing Cross Road, which she's managed to never encounter and has the same epistolary style, for her.
And Jeanne should be happy to learn that I'm giving Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy to my niece, who's just the age for a spy notebook.
I'm also giving four gift cards to book stores, but who knows if the recipients will decide to use the credit on music or movies instead of books.