It’s barely October, but it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Or at least, shopping centres are decking themselves out to make us feel like it is to cash in early on (or even extend) our credit card buying frenzy.
I have to admit, though, that I’m someone whom the Christmas spending frenzies and stresses have largely passed by. I have friends who have copious lists and plans of action for which shops to hit when, but my Christmas shopping is simple, straightforward, and involves visiting only one place: the bookshop.
I’ve only recently realised that this is an unusual Christmas shopping effort, especially because not only do I only buy books for friends and family, I only buy them ones I’d like to read. Yeah, I know, Indian-giver actions. If there’s a specific book that anyone particularly wants, they can tell me and I’ll pick it up for them. But they more often than not leave the book recommending to me, which invariably means that I buy books that I: a) want to read; followed by b) think they’ll also happen to enjoy.
I can’t remember specifically when this Christmas tradition started, and it’s more likely more a Christmas resignation on my family members’ part than one to which they’ve willingly subscribed. I do vaguely recall my father once unwrapping a present and saying, tongue in cheek, ‘Oh look, another book you want to read’. I also vaguely recall, for the record, that it’s one he subsequently enjoyed.
In my defence, my family tends to like the books I pick and I’ve become increasingly disciplined (or perhaps simply time poor) in recent years. It’s rare now for me to pre-read the presents and squash them down with phonebooks to give the illusion of an un-cracked spine. I’d also like to point out that while the books might boomerang back to me, my family can hardly complain—as a writer, reviewer, and compulsive book buyer, I single-handedly keep them in steady supply of top-notch books year-round. My questions are:
– Is buying along my own reading taste lines such a bad thing?
– Am I the only one who operates this way?
– And surely pre-reading is simply a form of quality control?