This year, for reasons both noble and practical, Justin and I went about buying Christmas presents a little differently than usual. I know, a Christmas presents post at the end of January? A little late.
Gotcha. I just couldn’t post about the presents until I’d actually given them.
This Christmas we gave our friends and family, anyone on the usual gift list, used books. Used copies of our favorite books. Including:
- The Yiddish Policeman’s Union
- What’s So Amazing About Grace
- Life of Pi
- Irresistible Revolution
- Bel Canto
- Finding God at Harvard
- Song of Solomon (the Toni Morrison one)
- The Book of God
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
- Founding Fathers
- Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith
You get the picture. I can’t remember the rest.
Anyway, I list them here as a plug for used books. We bought every one of these books in a brick and mortar store for less than three dollars. In fact, I only paid three dollars for one of them. Hallelujah for Goodwill and the Half Price Books clearance wall. Also, these books were in perfect condition.
What this kind of gift-giving enables is three fold:
1. We get to buy presents for everybody we love, even when we don’t really have enough money for presents. This year we bought books for 34 people. And spent $65.
2. We get to give more than a book. We get to give a piece of ourselves. Each of these books contributed to who we are today. When our friends read them, we connect in an intimate and powerful way.
3. We don’t contribute to the landfill or buy into culture’s preoccupation with new. In other words, it’s a chance to be weird. In a good way.
I admit, not everyone likes receiving books as much as I do, and so perhaps this kind of gift-giving is a little selfish. But I like to think that being given a piece of a friend, a map of some part of their identity, is always welcome. Even if it means having to read a used book.