Open Shut Shopping

Welcome to holiday no man’s land. The Hanukkah lights have been extinguished, which means some of us have received our gifts. Other though, have two weeks until the unwrapping comenses. And then there are the lucky ones who hail from multi-denominational homes where Holiday joy comes in two doses.

Regardless of your preference in festival, you will inevitably be faced with the decision of figuring out which material possessions best suit your loved ones. What shit do they want the most? But gift giving is more complex than that. It’s not just about what someone wants to get, its what you want to give them. Timmy may like a crossbow for Christmas (the natural evolution of the BB gun) but Timmy’s parents don’t want Patches the tabby house cat to be little Tim’s first casualty. That’s why board games were always my household go to for whenever I was invited to a birthday party. It promotes family bonding! It’s not a violent video game or worse, a CD with a parental advisory label on it!!

So, if you’re anything like me, you scour gift guides of reputable sources (GQ, Vulture) to see if anything jumps out and screams Aunt Kristie. What’s the message I want to send with my gift? And then it hits you like a stack of books — I want to promote reading. There are enough sections in a book store to be able to address everyone’s differing interests, and a quick look at a Best List is all it takes to know what’s going to stir conversation and encourage, dare I say it, thinking.

I ordered three books recently, all of which could not be more different than the next. 1. The Big Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy by Bill Simmons. This massive 752 page ode to hoops recently (Dec. 7) came out in paperback, and being a fan of his first, his columns and podcasts, and basketball, this purchase was inevitable. Got a dad or brother who loves sports and could use a dose of literature into his life? Turn to Simmons. He’s funny, thorough, and has a pretty awesome name.

2. Freedom by Jonathan Frazen. Honestly got this on the sole fact that it’s on so many Best of 2010 lists. If you clicked on that link I provided earlier, you would know that this is atop their fiction selections. If Mom prefers snuggling up with a book over the remote, and tends to follow Oprah‘s instructions pretty closely, then she may take to this one quickly.

3. I’m hesitant to divulge this last one because it’s intended to be given to someone who most certainly will be reading this sentence before said gift is delivered. Let’s say this. I recently read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Part 1 of her young adult trilogy that takes place in a post apocalyptic America ruled by a sadistic tyrannical government and upper class. I read it in a week’s time, with 80% of my consumption taking place over 48 hours. It’s that good. That niece or nephew or cousin you have that either loves books or has difficulty finding one they can truly dive into? The Hunger Games works both ways.

And the best part about giving a book as a gift? Reading it yourself. This may sound selfish, but it will provide for great discussion for you and this new owner of a beautiful hardcover. Plus what say’s ‘I’m someone who is interested in furthering myself to the point that I’m slightly pretentious but you still can’t argue with that fact that what I’m doing is noble and sadly rare’ more than reading a book. Give the gift of reading this holiday season. And thank you for reading this and any other posts. I would say that this is my gift to you, but then I’d be more than slightly pretentious.

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