Inspiring Older Readers

posted on 19 Dec 2015

Books make the perfect gift?

By and large no-one who knows me would consider buying me a book as a present. This isn’t because it would be in some way inappropriate or even unwelcome but simply because my friends and acquaintances would understandably be paralysed by indecision – they might rightly calculate that I pretty much buy anything I want for myself as I go along so how could they possible surprise me.

However, that never stops me having a default position that places books top of my ‘proposed presents for friends’ list. I really love buying books as presents because it poses a really interesting problem – do I know my friends well enough to buy them a book that they will actually want and not something they’ll put to one side for later dispatch to the charity shop?

When I set out to the shops to buy a book as a present there are a whole host of questions I have to calculate an answer to:

  • ·         A new book or a second hand collectible? There is something truly delightful about a brand new book with its pristine jacket, intoxicating smell of freshly printed paper and that tactile thrill of being the first person to pass your hand over the previously unseen pages. On the other hand, a collectible has all the knowing character of its age and status – previous owners have given the book patina and there’s very little risk that the contents will prove to be a dud. But which one best fits the intended recipient?


  • ·         A big read or a little treasure? What’s better than a big fat book to settle down with over a holiday period. No deeds to do or promises to keep and just a whopping big 600 page story to lose yourself in. Now that’s what I call a present.... Or maybe not. Perhaps a svelte little gem of a book is what is needed; 100 pages of beautifully bound paper that has been crafted like a haunting little melody that can stay with you for the coming weeks and months. Now that’s what I call a present......


  • ·         Fact or fiction? What’s it going to be – soaring imagination or meticulous research?  You know your friend loves to think of themselves as a real world sort of person but what about all those history and popular science books that took the critics by storm but remain unread on his/her shelf month after month? But then again if you go down the fiction route how many of those great breakthrough first novels turn out to be more gas than substance? Maybe if you get them that new novel they’ll just think you’re a terrible judge of writers, or, worse still, a shallow follower of fashions?


  • ·         Then finally, how the hell do I choose? There’s just too many books! There’s shops full of the damn things – how can I be expected to make a sensible choice. I know, maybe I should just select something I’d like to read. They’re my friend after all – they probably like the same sorts of things I like, don’t they? This could be a disaster.....


Yes, books make great presents for everyone and making the choice is the real fun. I end up solving all the conundrums by instinct – when I pick the book up I know instinctively whether it’s coming home with me. However, that doesn’t always mean my friend is going to get it – I might just keep it on my shelf after all.


Terry Potter

December 2015