How to Buy the People You Love a Book They Will Love
You love your mom. And if you were a writer, you might dedicate your first novel to her. But...that would take a decade (or more). Instead, buy five books you think she will love, wrap them up in butcher paper and write the time, feeling or mood she needs to be in to read them. For example, "Read this on the last day of your vacation." Or "Read this next Saturday night at home under the covers." Or "Read this the next time I really mess up and forget to call on Sunday night." Whenever the appropriate circumstance arrives, she can rip open the package and start at page 1.
Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, in New York City, occasionally has volunteers wrap books for a Blind Date With a Book display. And Elizabeth's Bookshops, in Australia, have an entire website dedicated to the cause if you want to order them online. Or just make it a DIY project with a quick visit to the stationery store and your local indie bookshop.
2. Channel Your Aunt Dottie
Take a page from that one wonderful client or eccentric aunt who signed you up for the Fruit of the Month Club. It's not the trendiest gift, but who doesn't get a bolt of joy when the box arrives? Juicy pears in October. Strawberries that taste like strawberries, in May. And, oh, the ripest, most perfect peaches in August! The same goes for books.
Last August, the 91-year-old Book-of-the-Month Club was revamped with a new editorial director—and a lineup of fun, fresh titles. (The current selections range from Priestdaddy, by poet-turned-memoirist Patricia Lockwood, to Lisa Ko's debut novel, The Leavers, a book that best-selling author Ann Patchett calls "required reading.") A three-month gift subscription costs $44.97 and entitles your friend or family member to choose one book from five selected titles and each box comes with some kind of swag, like coloring books. (Earlier this year, members received a special print edition of The Grownup, a ghost story by best-selling author Gillian Flynn). Even better? When you buy a gift membership, you get a free month for yourself.
3. Make Her Almost Famous
What do you get for your friend who runs your book club, reads every review and can summarize the entire plot of Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch—all 784 pages of it—in three sentences? The one who loves, loves, loves books. Going personalized solves your problem. You choose among 17 books, including Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen; The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka; The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett; Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery; and Peter and Wendy, by J.M. Barrie. Then, you can write a custom message that's printed in the book, or even put your friend's name on the cover.
The entire process is painless. Jacob Harring, a bookseller at McNally Jackson, in New York City, says it only takes one to two business days. "I think people might be a little intimidated by getting something personalized, that it might be a hassle," Harring says. "But you really just click on it and order."
4. Help Her Feel Like a Heroine
Your sister-in-law has run out of wall space for bookshelves, and your brother keeps tripping over her to-be-read piles. So, what do you do? Help her share her love of lit with underprivileged kids by buying a book in her name. First Book is a nonprofit that provides new books, learning materials and other essentials to kids in need throughout the United States and Canada. Over the course of the last 25 years, they've "distributed more than 160 million books and educational resources." Educators can order contemporary award winners like Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson, or classics like A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, from the First Book Marketplace.
Another option is to donate in her name to the National Book Foundation's BookUp, an after-school reading program for middle schoolers. For $100, you can provide 12 books for a student's home library.
5. Add Pasta
Loves to read. Loves to cook. Sound like someone you know? Your mom? Your best friend? Your spouse, maybe? A cookbook, you think! But go one better with a Culinary Box by Quarterly. Each package—released every three months—comes with an annotated cookbook, with special handwritten Post-it notes from a famous chef, and a goody bag of ingredients and extras. A recent selection was curated by Erin French of The Lost Kitchen, in Maine (think: maple syrup).