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!