When you don’t know what people like to read

Two years ago we spent Christmas with some friends who have the most picturesque farm you could ever imagine. Waiting on each of the very cozy guest beds was a present for each of the overnight guests. We each ended up getting a book. Being the bookish person control freak that I am, I was a little dubious. How dare someone give me a book. I’m the book guy. My present was a novel that I had never heard of but ended up really quite liking: Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. The whole experience opened me up to the idea of people giving me books. I’ve been so particular in what I’ve wanted to read for the past decade, I had forgotten what it was like to accept a book gift or loan from someone.

So this year, as we plan to stay overnight with these friends again the week before Christmas, I thought I should get them a book or two. Why not? I’ll tell you why not, because I know they read, but I have no idea what they like to read. But then I thought about how they took a chance giving me something to read so maybe I shouldn’t make the whole thing too complicated. So I went to Politics and Prose and picked out a handful of books that I have really liked. I kept thinking of dystopian novels I wanted to give them but realized I should probably limit those to just one. Not everyone finds a good dystopian read a fun experience. In the end I tried to make it an eclectic stack thinking that at least one of them will interest them (and hoping that they both end up liking all of them).

I think you will agree, it’s a fairly eclectic stack. I wanted to add Elif Shafak’s Three Daughter’s of Eve to the stack but that one wasn’t in stock.

I loved the A.M. Homes short story collection. Especially the one about the respectable couple who decide to try crack.

The Jackson lets in a bit of Gothic mystery weirdness.

Although a huge fan of John Williams’ Stoner, I think I like Butcher’s Crossing even more. And it’s a better book.

The Starnone (Mr. Elena Ferrante) was a quirky, touching tale of a long-married couple.

I love the end of civilization as we know it scenario that Mandel created in Station Eleven.

I guess The Dinner is dystopian in its own way, but all too real.

And then this happens.
Et voila.



10 thoughts on “When you don’t know what people like to read

  1. Su Clift December 19, 2018 / 10:57 am

    No one can argue with any of what you just did! Parfait!


  2. Karen K. December 19, 2018 / 2:40 pm

    Nice selection! I recently read Station Eleven for a book group and we all loved it, it’s one of my top reads for the year. And your gift-wrapping is beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Claire (The Captive Reader) December 19, 2018 / 9:06 pm

    What host wouldn’t be delighted with such a beautiful stack! I think you’ve got a wonderful mix there, with something for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jeane December 20, 2018 / 8:43 am

    What a thoughtful gift. I am sure they will like something in that stack. I’m often uncertain to pick out books for others- I usually don’t know their reading tastes- but your approach is encouraging.


  5. Ti December 20, 2018 / 11:30 am

    That is a really nice selection of books. I never receive books as gifts because people assume I’ve read everything which is SO not the case.


  6. Simon T December 20, 2018 / 11:56 am

    Well, lovely! I fret when given books in case I already own them (which, about half the time, I do) but otherwise love it.


  7. Susan in TX December 20, 2018 / 2:20 pm

    Love it! It’s hard to go wrong with that kind of variety.


  8. Kate W December 20, 2018 / 4:28 pm

    Nice gift!
    Must admit, I break out in a cold sweat when someone gives me a book – what if I’ve read it? What if I hate it? Is there pressure to read it immediately (yes)?


  9. Ruthiella December 20, 2018 / 7:10 pm

    That is a good eclectic mix. I’ve read and liked four of them.

    I an usually shy about giving books as presents. I am even wary of making recommendations…what if the recipient doesn’t like the selection and thinks I’m a loser? I always have to provide the book with a disclaimer… :D

    But I do give books to family and friends when I am 90% confident I have a winner (though this too has backfired in the past).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.