01.12.2020

Christmas is almost here, and it’s only a moment before St. Nicolaus’s Day arrives! Have a look at our holiday gift guide

The conventional wisdom is that a book is the perfect gift for any occasion. Naturally, we agree wholeheartedly! There’s only one small condition: it all depends on what book it is. Read our universal gift guide to save yourself from some awkward silence round the Christmas tree.

Do your shopping with the person you want to give the book to in mind

This seems like such a trivial advice, but in the rush of Christmas shopping it might slip your mind. It’s easy enough to pop into a bookstore and grab the first book you see off the shelf with new releases or bestsellers. That’s the present sorted out, but there’s only a slim chance that whatever you’ve picked is going to be to the liking of the recipient. After all, gifts are given for the sole purpose of making someone happy, especially when it’s someone you know well and (usually) like. Have a think first about what book your close one would truly enjoy reading, and only then make your purchasing decisions.

For a hobbyist

Let’s say you’ve got someone passionate about WW2. It seems simple then, doesn’t it? Just buy a book about WW2. But truth be told, it’s a massive challenge for a layman to choose a book that’s supposed to make an expert happy. It may turn out that the publication chosen by you has been on the shelf of the intended recipient for a long time now, or for some reason they had considered it not worth reading. So maybe you should go for a novel with the plot taking place during the war? Make sure you consider the matter carefully. Otherwise you might unwittingly force the recipient to go for an unscheduled visit to the dentist: the setting and events portrayed in the book differing from reality so much as to result in the unsuspecting reader gnashing their teeth.

Should you then just let it go and forget giving books as gifts? Absolutely not! Just make sure you do thorough research first: go through what’s already on the shelf of the person you want to present with a book (or even slip in a few subtle questions), read the reviews, have a look at what’s being sold at specialized online bookstores, and then make your purchase. If you choose right, we can guarantee you that the recipient will appreciate it. They’ll recognize the effort that goes into finding one’s way amongst the various publications available on the difficult subject and will surely experience the fluttering feeling in the stomach that comes with realizing someone has tried their best to make us happy.

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It’s not all about the subject matter

The reason why one of your close ones devours the crime novels written by one author might not necessarily be their love for blood dripping mysteries. It might be the writing style or sense of humour of the specific writer. A black sense of humour or a flowery way of weaving a story can also be found in other books by different authors. It might be that the recipient you have in mind is not so much interested in the life of the New York Hasidic Jews as in good reportage. Your mother’s passion might not be only famous explorers. Maybe she finds joy in reading exciting biographies? A bit of savviness should be enough to get an idea of why someone always reaches for a given type of books. Make sure you use the knowledge accordingly.

The simplest solutions aren’t always the best

Let’s say that your other half loves this author whose latest book is to be released just before Christmas. In theory, you already have the answer as to what to buy them as a present. The reality is that your partner might find several copies of the same book under the Christmas tree. The simplest thing to do here is to talk to the rest of your family about your gift ideas. Remember: prepare yourself for the news that someone’s beaten you to it and bought the book already.

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A bit of a helping hand from us: beware of self-help books

Be careful when it comes to self-help books. As much as the Poles love them, presenting someone with a book entitled “How to lose your unwanted kilograms in just a month” might sound like a dig at them, as opposed to being a good idea for a gift. On the other hand, you might help someone develop their interest into a passion. If your younger sister loves drawing and you get her an atlas of anatomy for artists, she’s sure to be over the moon because of it. You can also introduce her to related subjects that she has never before considered herself. If she’s a creative artist at heart, she might find herself hooked on calligraphy for beginners.

Something more generic for those we don’t know too well?

It happens sometimes that the person you want to buy a present for isn’t that close to you; it might be a distant relative, a work colleague, your daughter’s new boyfriend. This is where you might want to consider a notebook, a planner or a calendar even. There are countless options to please different professions and needs available on the market, and they could present a neat way out of a tricky situation.

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Read the reviews!

The book market is extremely diverse and it’s simply not possible to know all of the authors and all of the books worth reading. Book reviews are there to help you make your purchasing decisions. Don’t just look at the numbers or the place held in the charts. Make an effort and actually read the review. Something that might be someone else’s biggest problem with the title could prove to be its greatest quality to you.

A word about aesthetics

Naturally, it’s the contents of the book and the gesture itself that count, but we’re all aesthetes here. Given the choice, we’ll go for a nicer edition. A hard cover, carefully selected font, attractive graphics – they will always make a better impression than a pocket edition. What about presenting the book in eye-catching wrapping? This is really an issue far removed in importance, but it’s an established fact that we like to receive (and unwrap) prettily wrapped presents. Books are extremely rewarding when it comes to wrapping them, so go with a sheet of elegant wrapping paper and a nice ribbon tied in a bow to add extra charm to your gift.

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Buying books isn’t so scary as it’s made to be. Resist the whirlwind of pointless and mindless Christmas shopping and you can be sure everyone will be pleased. The recipient will be happy about getting something they have dreamt of, while you will have the pleasure of bestowing presents on others; it’s always more rewarding to give than to receive, isn’t it?

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lidia piasecka

Lidia Piasecka

Graphic designer at Totem.com.pl. She writes because she enjoys it, but only when she isn’t busy drawing. Enthusiast of vintage furniture, she restores them to their original glory. Lover of cats, moths and the Moomins.

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