Musings From A Bookmammal

Musing Mondays / Books As Gifts–Yay or Nay?


Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

This week I’m musing about giving and receiving books as gifts–

books presentsSince I regularly buy books for myself and also borrow books from the library on a weekly basis, I don’t receive books as gifts anymore unless I ask for a specific title–I’m often told “You read all the time–I have NO IDEA what books you already have!” When I do ask for a gift book, it tends to be a book that I probably wouldn’t purchase on my own, such as a large “coffee table” style book, or a thick (expensive) hardcover.

If I need to buy a gift for a child, it’s going to be a book! I may add something else to the package, but every kid who knows me knows that they’ll be unwrapping a book on their birthday or any other gift-giving occasion!  For some reason it’s easier for me to give books to children than to adults–and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because kids seem to be interested in so many things–I’m bound to find a book that matches what a particular child is into these days.

If I give a book as a present for an adult, I’ve first determined that the recipient is in fact a “book person.” And even then, I tend to purchase nonfiction, reference-type books that compliment the person’s hobby or interests, such as a cookbook or a gardening book. I also have a few go-to books that I’ll give as presents to fellow booklovers, once I’ve determined that they don’t already own them (you can check my post about my favorite “books about books” for my favorite go-to gifts in this area!).

I rarely buy novels as gifts for adults–everyone’s tastes are so different, and it’s so hard to judge what someone would enjoy when it comes to fiction—and the last thing I want to do is give someone a book that’s going to sit unread on a shelf. Or, worse yet, make the recipient feel guilty that the book wasn’t liked–or even opened. Books are for enjoyment, not for promoting feelings of guilt!

How about you? Do you like to give and/or receive books as gifts? Please share!

Author: bookmammal

I love books, reading, writing, cooking, eating, reading while eating, and sharing thoughts about all of the above–plus a bit more! I usually post about topics relating to books and literacy during the week, and then participate in a variety of non-bookish memes on the weekend. Please feel free to join in! Some random things about me– –I have multiple bookshelves in every room of my home except the bathroom. They’re all filled to bursting. They help to make my house my home. –I have two cats who I love dearly, but who I definitely do NOT dress in human clothing. Ever. –I’ve never had a cavity. –I make a mean spaghetti sauce. –I’m a newcomer to yoga and I love it. –My day is not complete without a little chocolate.

36 thoughts on “Musing Mondays / Books As Gifts–Yay or Nay?

  1. I love receiving books as gifts and luckily for me my family knows exactly what I like. But I don’t gift books for the exact same reasons you have written …… Its like what Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory says about gifting ! 😀
    Here is mine for the week

    • I do love receiving books as gifts, but I rarely receive a “surprise book” that I didn’t ask for anymore. . . my family won’t buy me books anymore unless I let them know exactly what I want!

  2. I do have to ask for specific titles of books but I read such a wide variety of books 😀 But I rarely buy books as gifts ’cause, as you say, everyone’s tastes are different and I can never tell what people have already read!

  3. I love buying books as gifts for kids! And I recently gave books as a baby shower gift – I gave some new titles and ones that I loved when my kids were younger. It was a huge success. It really touches my heart when someone goes to the trouble to buy me a book as a gift, because I know exactly how difficult it is. Even though it may not be someone I would buy myself! There has been a few circumstances where I see the perfect book for someone, but I usually just get gift cards! And I receive lots of them myself!
    Here’s my musing for the week

  4. Since I got my Nook, it’s harder for people to buy me books, so I tend to get more gift cards than books anymore. I love giving book gifts, especially to little children or teens.

  5. there is always a danger when giving books about someone else’s hobbies or passions: either they probably already have the ones they want, or they aren’t into books like that that they havent chosen. I am a cat person, but am always sad when someone sends me books ‘about cats” since there is often WAY too much detail or its just pictures and sound bites at the bottom. And you’re right, we dont always know what someone likes or dislikes, or has given up on. Instead of sending the book (surprise surprise) I email or call ahead and say, I found this really great (ex: Elizabeth George), are you still readig her?
    and it may not be a surprise any longer, but its still a gift and we’re both terribly pleased.

    and sometimes people think because I volunteer at the Historical society here i am also a history maven. Nooooo. What you do is not necessarily where your interests lie, when it comes to books.

    Kids, you’re right, will devour almost anything. And what a wonderful way to get them started on the jouney.

    One way that does work, invite a friend to browse a bookstore with you. she gets the book or books of her choice, and you both have a good time. If she/he gets the guilts about “buying so much” tell them they can buy lunch. =)

  6. I very rarely buy books for anyone anymore. This past September (right before I started my blog) I was at a book event with a friend and she came across a book she liked but didn’t want to buy because she had bought so many already, so I bought it for her and kept it until her birthday in November. It wasn’t a surprise, of course, but I really liked that I was able to get her a book I knew she was going to enjoy.

    Unfortunately I don’t have any kids I can buy presents for, but I definitely agree about them being less judgmental of books. Also, you always have the option of checking with their parents first if you want the books to remain a surprise!

    As for me receiving books as presents… Usually I get gift cards to Barnes & Noble instead of actual books, but sometimes my parents go to B&N with me and after I’ve picked up a couple of books say they’ll buy those for me and then put them away until my birthday or a holiday. Usually they do this a couple weeks before at most so that I’m not going crazy waiting to read them.

    • Yes, sometimes you definitely need to be sneaky–or play detective–when gifting books to others.
      Gift cards are always a great option–some people think they are impersonal, but I LOVE getting a gift card to a bookstore!

  7. I love books as gifts..both giving and receiving!

    Here is my Musing post!!

  8. I agree with so many of your points about book buying. I often will give a book to children for a gift but rarely to adults and if I do it tends to be a reference style book in line with their hobbies. I love getting books but people rarely buy them for me as it is too hard to keep up with what I have read! You always think up such interesting topics for your musings.

    • I actually got the idea for this post from a comment made on one of my posts last week!
      I stopped receiving books as gifts when I was working at the bookstore–people figured that since I got a discount I could just buy my own books–which is true–but it’s still so much fun to receive a book as a gift if it’s a title that you really want!

  9. I don’t receive any kinds of gifts, but I’d only accept book gifts from my hubby and one close friend. Other than that, no one really “gets” me or my ever changing genre loves. They’d be the only two who would get it right. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Here’s my Musing Monday

  10. I give gift cards to Amazon or Barnes and Noble instead of books. I did give books at a baby shower recently when they asked we buy and sign a book instead of a card. I though that was a great idea. The babies (they were expecting twins) would start life with a library.

  11. Haha I’m the type of adult that always gives kids books too! For that I’m either the best aunt or the worst 😛 I love receiving books (or gift cards for books) as gifts!

  12. I love to give/receive books as gifts. I just got four as Mother’s Day gifts from one of my sons and his fiancée. Of course, she asked if there was any books I wanted, and I gave her a small list. So, they weren’t random surprises, but still very much appreciated. The fact that I’ve cut back on my compulsive book buying means I actually have lists at any given time now.

    • Yes, I would much rather have someone ask me for a list of books that I wanted rather than having them guess and perhaps choose books that I already own. That must have been a wonderful Mother’s Day gift!

  13. I love to receive books as gifts! I tend to write a list around Christmas time and let people choose from it.

    Last year I received a large box via courier. I opened it and my sister had packed it full of spare books that she had lying around. Best gift EVER 🙂

  14. i have a friend who is a voracious reader, and book buyer. When she’s done with her latest ‘stash’ she brings them in to work, and we get to pick a fair number to read. When we’re done with them we bring back the ones we don’t want to keep, and start all over with a new set. =) Its a great way to find new authors that you might not be willing to spend money on in a book store. ..

  15. I loooove getting books a presents. 🙂 And to fellow book lovers I gift books. And yes it is much easier to buy books for a kid than an adult

  16. I started buying books for kids when I became an aunt. It seemed an auntly sort of thing to do. Those kids are all adults, now, and I still buy them books — but usually nonfiction that has something to do with what’s going on in their lives. One of the “kids” shares my love for YA so I sometimes will buy her those novels.

    • I’ve recently been getting back into reading YA again–there are so many wonderful books out there in that genre–definitely not just for the “YA crowd” anymore!

  17. YES YES YES on books for children, it’s always my go-to. But you’re right, books for adults are harder gifts and I don’t often give them, when I do it’s mostly to my husband who is beastly to shop for (all the man wants are shirts and ties, but that just doesn’t do it for me. 🙂 )

    Great food for thought!

  18. I buy books for my friends somewhat frequently- they’re either non-readers or trying-to-get-back-into-reading readers or actual readers (but I don’t know their taste) so it’s kind of hard to shop for them but if I see a book that has their name written all over it then I’ll buy it and give it to them for their birthday or something. The ones I’ve picked out so far for them have been successful.
    I love receiving them- often I have a list (about 7 pages long at last count) of books I currently would love to add to my library so it makes it easier for relatives and friends to buy for me.
    About coffee table books- I’m sort of collecting them for when I actually own a coffee table (: I’m not out of high school yet so it’s a bit early but I’m preparing my library (408+ books) for when I have a house of my own and coffee table books are included. I think they’re so fun because they’re not books you just sit down and read, but they’re either fun or factual things that you glance at every now and then and absorb slowly. I just love that idea. In fact, the only books I buy in-store (B&N) these days are coffee-table books because I can get novels for much cheaper online than in-store but coffee table books are harder to find and often on sale in-store.

    • I love coffee table books–they are so great for browsing! Some of them are almost like works of art. I think it’s great that you are planning ahead to furnish your house with books!

  19. I love to buy books for children, but I tend to buy nonfiction for adults for the same reasons that you do… I find it almost impossible to guess which fiction book even a very close friend would like. I usually prefer choosing my own fiction reading but I do have one friend with a particular talent of finding great book gifts. I’ve enjoyed every book — fiction and nonfiction — that she has ever given me!

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