Personalized Ways To Gift Books

I’ll Be H̶o̶m̶e̶ Quarantined For Christmas: VOL. 1

Hello, and welcome to my first of four columns! I’ve been thinking about how holiday gatherings will look a little different this year. Some people may not be able to see their immediate family; I probably would not be able to had I not come back home to Ohio this past summer. If you’re in a situation where you won’t get to see all of the family and friends you’d like to, there are other things you can do. Like giving unique, thoughtful gifts! Taking the extra time to put something together is the best way to show someone that you wish you could be with them. Plus, it will probably help you to feel better about a potential lack of a Holiday gathering. If I don’t know when I’ll next get to see someone I care about, that adds a weight to the top of my pile of inner anxieties. Working on projects for the people I’m distanced from helps me to feel better, like I’m closer to them. Hopefully, you will find inspiration in my gift-giving ideas.

When I give books as gifts, I try to give books that I can remember reading as if it were yesterday (even if it has been years) or books that I enjoyed recently. Making sure that a book I give falls within one of those two parameters ensures that I would be prepared for a book discussion within the following year or two. Giving someone a book you’ve already read says that it’s a book you would like to discuss deeply with them.

The receiver of your gift is more likely to read the book you’re gifting if you write something about the book in the card you’re attaching to their gift. What about that specific book made you think of that specific person? Why do you think they’ll enjoy it? What did you most enjoy about it? Do you want to write out a quote from the book?

As for a written card, it’s usually better to include one than to not. As my time allows, I’d rather carefully pick a card than grab the first one I see on a spinner rack in the back of the post office. A few of my go-to online stores are Steel Petal Press, Wild Ink Press, Greenwich Letterpress, and The Good Twin. You can see a longer list of stores here.

Most major metropolitan areas have card shops among their small businesses. When I lived in Chicago, I was within walking distance of THREE! I visited each of them as soon as I got settled in. Inkling on N Broadway quickly became my favorite.

If you want to go beyond the written card and put another personal touch on your book gift, you could include light annotations or stick a bookmark in the book. When I say light annotations, I envision remarks made lightly with a pencil in the book’s margins. Of course, you could approach the idea however you want to. Know that your thoughts don’t have to be incredibly insightful! I’m currently in the process of passing an annotated copy of The Regrets by Amy Bonnaffons around to all of my friends and asking them to leave their comments in different colors. My best friend has it right now. I bet that if you asked her about the comments I’ve left, she’d say that forty-five percent of my remarks fall under “yupp,” or “OMG YES” and another forty-five percent fall under “haha!!” You don’t have to say anything profound. The main idea is to produce an end result that will have the receiver of your gift feeling like they are having a conversation with you as they are reading. Essentially it’s two gifts in one; the gift of a new book and the gift of yourself/your thoughts.

By now, you might not have time for that. Or maybe you’re not the type to write in books. Instead, you could color a bookmark and stick it in either the book or its accompanying card. I don’t color as much as I used to, but I still think of adult coloring as an effective stress reliever. One year I added a colored-in bookmark to every book I gave as a gift. I got the blank bookmarks from the Public Library where I was working! If your library doesn’t have a free bookmark section, you can browse Etsy or select a book full of bookmarks.

Next week’s column will be more of a listicle. I’m going to talk mainly about quirky, specialized websites and charitable donations. Thanks for reading! Stay safe and happy holidays!

S. Elizabeth Sigler has been published in Re-Side Magazine, Fembot Magazine, The Daily Drunk, Howling Mad Review, and From Whispers to Roars. She will have creative nonfiction in the January 2021 issue of Biological Creatures. She uses her spare time to read, write, and explore the world around her. 

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