Posted by: Jeanie F | December 13, 2009

Holiday Gift Giving

This week’s topic from Weekly Geeks deals with holiday gift giving, a topic near and dear to my heart. There’s nothing I love as much as knowing I have time off work and new books to read! Here are the Weekly Geek questions:

Do you have a book wish list for the holidays?  If so, what’s on it?

 I write a book wish list that I give to my husband. Every year the list includes the new Best American Short Stories, which is not only a reliably great collection, but often introduces me to new authors whose work I’m not familiar  with. This year’s list also includes:

  • The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
  • Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave

An interesting conundrum that he and I have run into this year is that we both read a lot on our Kindles and, let’s face it, buying a book on a Kindle doesn’t have the gift-giving caché that a wrapped gift has. We agreed that we would give only “real” books as gifts. Not a problem as both of us love reading in both formats.

Are you very specific when someone asks what you want for a gift? Or do you throw caution to the wind and say, “Oh any book you choose….” Or do you prefer a bookstore gift card?

I’m pretty specific with my immediate family, and they’re great about following through. Not too many people outside of my family buy books for me, but my choice would be a gift card. My reading taste is very eclectic BUT also very specific. It would be hard for someone to choose a book that I would like, and I always feel guilty if I don’t like (or worse, don’t read) a book I’ve received as a gift.

Do you buy books for people on your gift list? Do you choose books for them that you like and try to influence their reading (or hope they’ll loan it to you when they’re done)? Or do you get specific titles from your giftee? 

I buy books for the children on my gift list. I was an elementary school teacher for many years and am now a school district administrator who coordinates our language arts programs, as well as our library-media program. I’m pretty current on the books that are popular with kids. If I’m buying a book for an adult that is not in my immediate family, it is because they’ve requested it. I might chance an unrequested book purchase for a close friend whose tastes I know well, but I would be sure they could return the book if they weren’t interested.

Where do you buy your book gifts? Do you shop at local independent bookstores, or the “big box” stores? or do you shop online?

When I can, I shop at  independent bookstores. In fact, I’m heading to Laguna Beach Books this afternoon, the best indie in Orange County as far as I’m concerned! For hard-to-find books, or when I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to get to Laguna Beach, I shop on As a “prime” customer, I get free two-day shipping, which works for me.

What books are on your list this year? Leave a comment…


  1. This year, I didn’t ask for any specific books. Instead, I asked for a bookstore gift card! Why? I prefer to go to a bookstore and hunt around myself; I often find something that’s better than what I would have asked for.

    My Weekly Geeks post is here:

  2. i really think amazon prime is evil! 🙂 i end up making so many “oh that looks good” impulse purchases because of it.

  3. Maybe it is because economic times are tough, or that sometimes we go through quieter stages in our lives, but no one really asks me about my book choices. I was extremely moved when a close friend purchased a Kindle for me, which I received on Chrismtas Eve Day. I could barely find the courage to tell her I already had one. She is truly close and could it be that this subject never arose?

    Borders Express at the Westminster Mall is going out of business. I worked for The Book Place in Anaheim Hills which went out of business years ago, so seeing bookstores go under is always tough on me. I loved my store and met so many authors. I made a minor purchase today, but a deal, a $50 book for $5.99.

    I browsed Book Off in the same mall, with multiple locations in southern California. They also carry CDs and DVDs, used but in good condition. It was similar to a library’s bookstore made of donations, only with a larger and more organized inventory. I somehow managed to escape with only one $2.00 book, Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul. I can more easily manage small chunks of reading at this time. I stayed as long as I did because bookstores are amazing. I smiled at which books had staying power, or books I have read and forgotten, or which books were next to each other and wondered if they or their authors liked that, because books can be that real to me. I thought, “Please do not allow our bookstores to disappear.” Then I wondered if I am contributing to that ugly trend.

    I wondered how some authors might feet that their hard work was in a bargain bin, then fantasized if I were as focused with what I wished to write and had experienced the full process, had items published, that I would be fortunate if my materials actually made it that far.

    I spent $140 for books for one graduate school class beginning in January, and we always require more books than when we begin, that is for sure. Amazon Prime.

    I might ask for Anne Lamott’s All New People or Crooked Little Heart, and then there is Best New Short Stories 2007 or 2009, the years I missed.

    Not only would I buy books for people, I think which people would like which books as I view them, now or possibly in their futures! I smile when my students “discover” books I may have read around their ages. They write little status updates on them online or sometimes send an e-mail years later to tell me what they have done. Fun.

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