Giving books as gifts

Dear readers, you are all book lovers, so I have a question for you. Do you enjoy receiving books as gifts? I mean, do you actually enjoy them? If I’m being completely honest with myself, I’d have to admit that while I love the thought behind books as gifts, there haven’t been too many gifted books that I actually enjoyed reading. I’ve appreciated them all. But enjoyed them? That’s something different.

I’ve run up against this question recently as September is the month of multiple birthdays in my family. As I’ve kept an eye out for gifts for my loved ones I’ve had to ask myself, “Now, Erin, is this something they would like, or is it something you would like?” Because isn’t that the thing with gifts? It’s so easy to pick out something we’d like ourselves, but it can be tricky putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes and envisioning what they might actually like.

I guess it’s tricky, too, because books are so personal. And the decision to read a book can be complicated; it can depend on our current mood or where we are in life at that moment. Have you ever considered that we censor ourselves every time we choose to read one book and not another? Just think how those small decisions have shaped our political opinions and views on life? There’s an Orwellian thought for you.

Anyhoo, I wanted to ask you, what are your favorite books to give as gifts? Which books can’t fail as gifts?

Here are a few of mine. Notice, there’s nothing too literary on my list. In my experience, people come to literary classics on their own and in their own good time. :)

This book never fails to inspire people, teenagers and adults, men and women, to go out in search of their life’s purpose. It’s a lovely little adventure book, easy to read, and with deep meaning behind each line.

When in doubt, children’s books make great gifts, and not just for children. Oh, the Places You’ll Go makes a particularly good graduation, moving-away, new job, new baby gift. Plus, since it’s short and a picture book, you can be sure the person will read the book… at least once. Here’s another children’s book I like to give as a gift.


Adriana Trigiani wrote this captivating trilogy about a second generation Italian immigrant who grows up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia and struggles to find her place in two worlds, often comically. It’s a story that transects coal-mining Appalachia and sensual Italy and sweeps you along with it. Definitely a book for the ladies in your life who appreciate a good worlds-collide love story. Best part is, if they like Big Stone Gap, there are two more in the trilogy.

Men, and women interested in WWII history, will be enthralled reading Laura Hillenbrand’s latest labor of incredible love, Unbroken. It’s the story of Louis Zamperini, a WWII fighter pilot, Olympic distance runner, plane crash survivor and former Japanese prisoner of war. His is the kind of survival story you almost don’t believe, complete with shark attacks, sadistic army generals and impossible rescues. Through it all, Zamperini’s tenacity and positivity is astounding.

So I’d love to know, what are some of your recommendations?

(Top photo is of my husband and sister at a typical family ice cream outing. They are often the unhappy recipients of my book gifts.)

  1. Claire said:

    I like the books you’ve given me. There was only one challenge in the bunch of the years and I did it! I actually learn about most good books from you so I do appreciate your gifted books.

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