You’re down to the wire. It’s only a few days until Christmas, and you have yet to get that book lover in your life a gift. Maybe it’s your husband who nightly reads military history. Maybe your 9-year-old can’t get enough of the Hardy Boys. Maybe your teenage niece is reading anything she can get her hands on.
You could buy these loved ones books, of course, but giving a book is risky unless you know the specific title desired. All bibliophiles love books, but not just any book, and those of us who regard books as one of the three chief pleasures of civilization, the other two being coffee and hot showers, can be picky about what we read. Besides, what if that person has already read or owns the book? No — buying a book for an inveterate reader is as touch-and-go as investing in the “Jeff Minick Bermuda Fund.” (Donations may be sent to this newspaper c/o the editor.)
Here I will make one exception of genre: Books about books generally delight readers, because these volumes send those readers off to the bookshop or library to track down recommended titles. By these, I mean books like James Mustich’s 1,000 Books To Read Before You Die, 501 Must-Read Books, a compilation put together by editor Emma Beare, or Michael Dirda’s Book by Book: Notes on Life and Reading, which is a delightful amalgam of this great critic’s thoughts on living and literature.
Now let’s consider some ideas for both gifts and stocking stuffers.