Nothing says I love you like a book

No matter what the occasion, I try to buy people a book. It means some adaptation, and buying books I don’t normally buy — paranormal romance for my sister, certain types of non-fiction for my dad, violent crime fiction for one of my ex-housemates — but I do like to think about it, to pick out something that just fits. (I have one major failure: my best friend since childhood, Laura. Craft books, yes, but anything you could settle down and read… she doesn’t have the time/patience for it unless she’s on holiday, and then her taste is for chick lit type stuff. Hm, an idea strikes…) Luckily, a lot of people around me share my taste: Amy, my partner, my mum, to a great extent my sister.

So yeah, you know I love you when I come home from the charity shop glowing with glee and a stack of books carefully picked out just to suit your taste. My former housemates should be pretty familiar with this situation.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a couple of my happily united book couple successes — and then, if you like, you can comment with a book and some facts about someone, and see whether I can think of something.

For Dad: You Are Not So Smart, by David McRaney. Because whether he likes it or not, some of it is very relevant to things he believes about himself. Granted, he probably didn’t see it that way, but he did carry the book around with him from Christmas to the New Year. He’s a non-fiction reader, gave up on fiction a long time ago, but his knowledge tends to be widespread and general, so I always try to aim for something like this, rather than something super-technical.

For Mum: The Lions of Al-Rassan, by Guy Gavriel Kay. The Fionavar Tapestry and Tigana came first, I think, but it was Lions that had her texting me at three in the morning from Italy or Spain or whatever fancy conference she was at. (This is reciprocal more than any other book-giving relationship I have: she introduced me to Isaac Asimov, Robin Hobb and Dorothy L. Sayers, among others.)

For Squirt (my sister): The most memorable occasion was when I handed over her first Alastair Reynolds book, Century Rain. She’s been a fan ever since, and it actually kickstarted her into doing a lot more reading. I think her trust for my taste began at that moment. We actually went to a reading/signing by Alastair Reynolds, and her knees were practically knocking with nerves — my fierce little sister’s knees were knocking!

For the girlfriend: Occasionally I try and break her heart with stuff like Civil War: Iron Man, but mostly I’m nice and push books like The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern) and A Face Like Glass (Frances Hardinge) her way. One of our oldest literary successes was The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper). There was also Robin McKinley’s Sunshine and Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Fionavar Tapestry, and more recently Jo Walton’s work you can see we share very similar taste in books. On the other hand, Cherie Priest’s Bloodshot and Hellbent bored her to death, where I love love love loved them, so it’s not all perfect.

For Amy (former housemate): The biggest hit was Garth Nix’s work. It’s now become a yearly Christmas tradition: a Garth Nix book or series, every year. He’ll need to write more, soon, or I’m doomed. Given that Amy’s dyslexic, Spellwright by Blake Charlton could’ve gone either way, but she ended up liking it.

For Ruth (former housemate): This was a lucky one. She mentioned being interested in the Tudors and particularly Lady Jane Grey. I found Alison Weir’s Innocent Traitor a couple of days later in a charity shop.

For Lynn E. O’Connacht: I can’t actually remember anything specific here, but we’ve traded books fairly frequently, starting with her sending me King Arthur’s Death (trans. Brian Stone), which contains the alliterative and stanzaic Morte Arthure poems. Anna Elliott’s Twilight of Avalon is another Lynn sent me.

So… yeah. If I love you, expect a book this Christmas (if I can get you anything at all, which is a different matter).


10 thoughts on “Nothing says I love you like a book

  1. D’aawww. I’m honoured and surprised to be on this list. I’m glad to know the books worked so well for you. ❤ I think the first book you gave me was Gifts by Ursula Le Guin? It was one of the first, anyhow. I’m afraid the books you gave me and the books I bought because you enjoyed them run together a bit in my head and I get confused which is which. ^-^;

    Anyway! You’re wonderful at matching books to people. ^-^ If you wanted a bit of a challenge, I could offer up some facts about my dad. (Reading’s really hard for him and he doesn’t like it, but if something catches his interest he reads that fairly voraciously until he’s at the end. It’s just finding something that does in the first place…)

    • Of course you’re on this list! I love trading books/talking books with you. ❤ I thought that might've been the first. Hmmm.

      I can try!

      On 22 November 2013 09:16, Bibliophibian Inc.

      • *blush* I love trading/talking books with you too. ❤
        I'm almost certain that one was the first. I should have the letter/note that came with it around somewhere. ^-^ (Stupidly, even though I store letters in one spot, I always forget what that spot is.)

        ❤ *tries to give a few facts about her dad* He… has tended to like "sword and …" genres in the past, has enjoyed whatever genre it is Dan Brown writes in, nonfiction about spirituality, er… *considers* He's enjoyed Dune and a fair amount of Le Guin's science fiction, and he professes to love comics/graphic novels because he finds them easier to read than books. (That said something like "Watchmen" or "V for Vendetta" he finds too difficult.)

        Hee. Writing that down gave me some ideas of my own. It'll be interesting to see if we have any overlap. XD

        • I think it probably was. Jo Walton's Farthing is the first one I have a reference in my email to, but I don’t keep everything, so.

          Well, if he likes Dan Brown, then Sam Bourne might go down well. Comics-wise, Ultimate Spider-man might go down well? You don’t need to know anyyy other Marvel canon to follow. SF-wise, hmmm, William Gibson, maybe? He can have a pretty odd style, but if your dad got on with okay with Dune and Le Guin then it should be okay. Also classics like Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg, maybe some of the SF masterworks?

  2. :O I don’t remember that one at all. But you know what my memory is like, so that’s hardly surprising.

    Mmmm… Always worth showing him and seeing if he thinks they sound interesting. Bourne and Gibson sound like the most likely candidates. Possibly Silverberg as well. Those sound like the kind of titles he’d pick up out of curiosity. ^-^

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