Choosing the Best Books to Give

Choosing the Best Book for A Gift 

Guest Post by Kristina Aziz

When Christmas time came around last year I had gotten gifts for my team at work. There were 16 people I needed to take care of. On the 21st of December everything came in from Amazon, I wrapped and put all the gifts together, and counted them...13. I quickly checked all the name tags and figured out who I was missing.

One I didn’t really know all that well because we ran different shifts. I knew she was an older lady who was religious and had kids. We’ll call her Margaret. The second I only saw on Saturdays and knew he was a laid back, fun loving younger man. We’ll call him Z. The third I couldn’t quite get a read on. He stood up during all of his calls, was at work early, and didn’t talk too much or participate in our group texts. Let’s call him Roger.

The first two were somewhat easy. I got a coloring book called Every Little Thing for Margaret. For Z I got a book called Fold Me Up, which was filled with fun cootie catcher type pages that included “should I have another drink”, “What would Mr. T do”, and “Important Messages from Cute Puppies”.

Roger was harder. I spent a long time in front of my bookshelf trying to figure him out. My first instinct was to get him a business book, but I couldn’t run the risk that he was just shy or socially awkward and not necessarily business minded. I considered a humor book, but got the feeling that he would maybe like it, but was more intellectually minded. Then my eyes fell on Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy. It was funny, it was intellectual-ish, and more importantly--I had loved it when I read it. And I had two copies on my shelf! I wrapped it up and put it in the box with all of the other work gifts.

On the 23rd my Manager passed everything out. Margaret said thank you, and that her daughter had loved the book. She liked that she could use markers because the pages were so thick. Good so far. Z came up and gave me hug, with a generic “Thank you. You didn’t have to give me a gift, but I really appreciate it” comment. Alright….

And then Roger. It started when my manager gave him the gift. Without even unwrapping it he had the biggest smile I had ever seen on him, which confirmed my thoughts that maybe he wasn’t really cold and business minded, but just not social. He said thank you, and I worried that it wasn’t the best gift at all. But then break time came. The television was off. One kid was on his phone, I was reading a kindle book for review, and Roger was reading the book I gave him. He gave a few chuckles here and there, and after every chapter would put the book down for a minute before picking it up again. Definitely better than a business book.

But what really convinced me that I had chosen the perfect book for him was when he got to one chapter, and laughed--like really laughed. He laughed loud and long, and kept reading, and started laughing all over again. It was the type of deep belly laugh that was practically a guffaw. I asked him what chapter he was on, worried that maybe one of the other humor books might have been better. He told me it was a chapter where the author was talking about how the brain is divided up and I knew I made the right choice.

If you’re not sure what gifts to get your friends for Christmas, save yourself time and go to the Penguin Hotline. They’re only open for the Holidays, so you’re on your own for Birthdays, but they ask about the hobbies and personality of the receiver and come up with a personalized list of book recommendations. Or do what I did, and sit in front of your bookshelf. Don’t go with your first instinct, and make sure whatever you give is something you can stand behind. Share the books you love.