Sunday, December 9, 2007

Another copy of Maurice, Kate? You shouldn't have... no you REALLY shouldn't have...

Is there anything more fun than buying books for other people?

I don't think even buying books for yourself is quite as enjoyable. This Christmas, just for a change, everyone is getting books, so I have spent long hours considering which books to give to which people and having a surprisingly brilliant time doing so.
Buying books for other people is really all about the delicate balance between buying someone What They Would Actually Like and What You Think They Should Be Reading. In the past I have tended towards the latter choice but that way lies danger, as I have discovered by bitter experience. So this year I think I have actually managed to buy people books they might like, books they could even read instead of just sticking in the bookshelf and (worst case scenario) possible regifting to others.

In the course of this endeavour I have discovered that, as with a lot of things, the joy of choosing a book for someone - weighing the volume in your hand, opening to the first page to read the first sentence they will met and the mental gymnastics of marrying the perfect book to the perfect person - is probably greater than the joy they will get from reading the book. In many cases, no doubt, I've failed completely to assess my friends and family's reading tastes and have bought them another doorstop.

Even so, walking out of the bookstore today, positively weighed down by books and with considerably less cash than I'd had an hour previously, I felt almost as excited as I used to as a kid on Christmas morning which, I think, is saying something.

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