How do you choose a book for a friend?

I was reading this post at Mel’s blog on how you should let your friends order for you at a restaurant to avoid food fatigue and I thought what it would be like to apply the same to books. Yeah I can put everything in the context of books. I’m good like that :-). I wondered what it would be like to let your friends pick out one for you.

This year I have been specially fortunate in getting perfect reads from friends – one from my no-longer-secret-santa Sanch and another one from dear blogger pal Shilpa – were as different as they were wonderful.

How they got it right remains a mystery, though.

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If you were to pick a book for a friend how would you do it? I’d probably think about what kind of a reader the friend is.

If he’s a reader..

.. you’d think it would be easy. Not so at all. Because he has probably exhausted most of the reads from classics to bestsellers. A relatively safe bet would be to pick from among the new releases and hope he hasn’t got there first.

Or

I’d choose from the relatively lesser known books that I’ve really enjoyed. Like a Tim by Colleen McCullough or The Brave New World by Aldous Huxley which are ‘safe’ for most serious/voracious readers. But it’s always s risk.

Alternatively I could try to pick something that’s a collector’s delight – a special edition is always welcome, right? They do cost a bomb though, so that’s a consideration.

Then there are the non-readers

They’re just as tough. To begin with why would I even consider gifting a book to a non-reader – to hook him of course. A book lover can never truly be convinced that a dear friend isn’t a friend of books.

I would pick nothing big, fat, heavy or the least bit daunting. I’d look for one that could be read in parts – a short story collection or non-fiction essays (that sounds boring but can actually be fun). For instance – one from the Chicken Soup series or here in India Twinkle Khanna’s Mrs Funnybones. 

Alternatively, I’d choose a pacey thriller or a breezy romance – something that would keep the reader effortlessly hooked.

So share with me:

How do you pick books for friends?

Linking to Mel’s #Microblog Mondays

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16 thoughts on “How do you choose a book for a friend?

  1. Shailaja V

    I typically play it safe and only buy/gift books if the person is a reader and I know the person’s tastes well. On the off chance they may already have the book, I hope they will still like it because I would have personalised it with my sign 🙂

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Ha ha Shailaja that’s a thought. Books make for such perfect gifts yet it’s complicated coming up with the perfect one.

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Yeah right that’s there. Sometimes however a gift that’s different from your usual picks might just introduce you to a new genre/author – one that you might end up enjoying.

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  2. Lata Sunil

    Only few of my real friends are readers and I know their tastes very well. So, no going wrong there. But I have a tough time picking books for my sons who are not interested in reading.

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  3. Rachel Lewis

    For a guy? I’d go with fantasy. But all the men in my life read fantasy books.

    Girls I think would be much easier to choose for.

    I like the idea of choosing books for the other person. It’s like expanding the palette of the mind!

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    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Yeah my point exactly. Someone has to introduce you to a new genre. We cannot always play safe, right?

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  4. Vinitha

    I think I will treasure the book given by a friend. It doesn’t matter if I have already read the book or if it isn’t from the genre I prefer. So I like to assume that my friend will feel the same if I choose one for them. 🙂

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  5. Mel

    I try not to. 🙂 I’ll make suggestions, but unless the person has expressed an interest in a book or they’ve loved other books by the author, I would be much more likely to get them a gift card to a bookstore so they could pick their own book than ever pick a book for them.

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    Reply
    1. Beat About The Book Post author

      Yeah I know why you would do that – it’s the safe thing to do of course.

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  6. Rachna

    I find it very hard to buy books for people I don’t know well. I would rather give them a voucher to buy one of their own choice. 🙂

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  7. shanayatales

    You are right. I always find it difficult to gift books to readers; the non-readers are easier to gift, because they are pretty much a blank slate, and I convince myself that it is all for making the world a better place. No, really!

    Having said that – kids are the easiest to gift – most picture books work or 5 minute Bedtime Stories (this is a time-saver for parents too, especially parents of toddlers).

    Tweens/Teens/Young Adults – I gift Harry Potter (many have thanked me for it).

    Adults – I never give them classics. That really is my one big rule, especially considering they are non-readers.

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  8. Eli

    Great idea. I do think books are great gifts:-) I will think of them and what I think they like. But if I have read an amazing book that made a big impression on me I might give the same to a friend too. Or easier- we borrow from eachother.

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