Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It's Always the Season for Books

I hate to shop. When compared to all the other things I could be doing, the thought of spending time wandering around crowded stores seems incredibly inefficient to me, and I don’t usually want the item in question enough to warrant a trip. (Of course I also bring student papers to hair appointments and squeeze my laptop open on the subway, so clearly I have some issues with downtime.)

While my dislike of shopping is year-round, it kicks into high gear near Christmas; my proudest shopping moment of last year’s holiday season was when I realized I got every single gift I needed online, minus one.

I do have one huge exception, though. I love buying books and being in bookstores, and if left un-chaperoned, I could easily spend far too many hours and too much money. My husband fully supports (encourages, even) my book-buying binges, but I like it when we go together because I’m more conscious of that wily little word “moderation.”

I know the economy’s in terrible shape and holiday budgets are much tighter for most people, and I have a solution: Buy books. Seriously. They are affordable, durable, and can be used over and over.

Now, I know I am biased because I recently published my (affordable paperback)book Life Disrupted. But I’m making this plea not as a book author but as a lifelong book lover, someone whose favorite childhood Christmas present was the Little House on the Prairie boxed set of books, and who got a floor-to-ceiling bookcase for a 10th birthday present. I cannot go to sleep at night without reading, if even for 10 minutes, and I cannot leave the house without at least one book tucked into my briefcase.

The only gift I always buy in person for my nieces are books, and my gift to my oldest niece each Christmas is a hardcover book with an inscribed note. My brother told me she makes him read them to her throughout the year.

So buy books this year, and maybe even start a new tradition. What’s more, whenever possible support your local independent bookstores. They are more than simply places that hold shelves of books; between readings, lectures, and other literary events and book clubs, they foster a sense of community in neighborhoods. Like many independent retailers, they need our support and patronage more than ever right now.

For local readers, I just scored several great books on the sale table at Brookline Booksmith, and my two local favorites, Porter Square Books and Newtonville Books (both of which were awesome in supporting this local author with events) have tons of interesting readings and events this December and offer good discounts.

Obviously I believe books are a perfect gift for people of all ages and inclinations, but since this is a blog about illness, I do have to say that for people with chronic illness, books can take on even more significance. They bring the outside world into our homes when we can’t always leave, and they offer escape and entertainment when we need it most. I think part of the reason I was such a big reader at such an early age is because it was the one thing I could always do, no matter how sick I was or how many IVs I had in my arm.

I'm working on my own recommendations, but for now, check out this book editorial from the Boston Globe--it's full of quirky selections for the readers in your life. Happy shopping!


Anonymous said...

I love how you give your niece books with inscriptions!!!! Great idea! I really miss reading. I cannot wait to be done with school so I can read more (the irony, huh?).

Anonymous said...

PS. I would love to be in a book club with you!

Anonymous said...

why, of course, I'll always take books!

Prof. Michele said...

I am the same way- books have gotten me through a lot of tough times and fun times. My husband and I are both book-aholics. Some great ideas you gave us.

For some of my friends and family who don't have time to read or in the car a lot, I have recorded them a few of the favorites onto CD. This is great for children too. Often before or after the CD reading, I add personal comments about them and/or the book. I usually give them the CD and the book.

Happy holidays to all!

Never That Easy said...

Laurie, I definitely agree: books are the way to go. I'm contributing to a blog that's helping with recommendations for books as gifts, and they're also highlighting independent book stores (we are so on the same wavelength!) You can check it out at Buy Books for the Holidays.

Also: I'm totally giving your book as a gift this year. :D

Anonymous said...

Books are my gift of choice. I also recycle my books either by donating them to the local library or shelters. I have one friend who will be getting your book this year.

Anonymous said...

Laurie, Great reminder to all of us that books are wonderful (and timeless) gifts.

As someone who is homebound often with illness, you said it well, reading brings the outside world in to us!

And hanging out in a bookstore...magic!

Going to check out some of the web-sites suggested in the comments.

Thank you Laurie, Kerry

themigrainegirl said...

This entry, with a few tweaks, could have come directly from my lips (er, laptop). I am a lifelong bibliophile whose dream of opening an indie bookstore may just come true in 2009! I could go on and on but I'll sum it up with this: thanks for this post, Laurie.

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