It’s the holiday season, and gift giving occasions abound. The book club I’m in is doing a gift exchange with a twist. The members are bringing a copy of a book they love as a gift, which is a great way to help share a work they’ve enjoyed. I’ve been pondering what book to buy, because my list of favorite books varies depending on my mood, what I’ve read recently, or even memories of an old favorite. I probably won’t settle on a final book until almost the day of the party, but I’ve had fun trying to choose. But pondering my choices has made me think about how books can make a wonderful gift for almost anyone.

Over the years I’ve received some wonderful books as gifts. One of my funniest gift memories is based on a present from my mother. As an eighth-grader, I’d devoured “Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel and was ecstatic to discover there was a movie. My mom previewed the movie because it was rated R and let me watch it but covered the television with a tea towel during the inappropriate scenes. (Using a tea towel should tell you just how small our television was at the time, which I now think would be considered child abuse by some children.) As an adult, I still enjoy the Jean Auel books, and as a gift a few years ago, my mom gave me my own copy of the movie Clan of the Cave Bear, wrapped in nice, new flour-sack tea towels for my personal viewing.

Last year my brother-in-law gave me perfume that is scented to smell like a book. It even comes packaged in a book. That was one of my favorite gifts, especially because I prefer reading an actual book over an e-book because of the whole tactile experience, including the smell.

Giving books as a gift has been a lot of fun for me over the years as well. I’ve given my mom different cookbooks that are historically based, such as pioneer and “Little House on the Prairie” based ones. She enjoys reading the tidbits that go along with the recipes. My brother has received Scottish history books because of our family tracing back to the Campbell clan, and him being a Scottish history buff.

My children have received a number of books over the years as presents, sometimes even receiving a whole series in one fell swoop. I think this might be the first time they’re not getting any books from me for Christmas (shh, don’t tell them), but one of them does have a jewelry box made from a book as a wrapped present under the tree.

There are also a number of other gifts that can be made from old books, such as ornaments, wreaths, and jewelry. The Joplin Public Library has some books in the collection that showcase different ideas for turning your falling-apart books into a new piece of art. Some of the titles include “Playing With Books”, “Art Made From Books”, and “The Repurposed Library”.

I’ve also given my mother-in-law her library membership as a gift in previous years. Living outside the official city limits of Joplin, she pays to belong to the library. I’ve purchased a gift certificate from the library that covers her membership and wrapped it for her to open. That is one gift I knew she was sure to use and enjoy.

If you have a reader on your gift list but aren’t sure what to give them, a gift card to the local bookstore paired with a book mark or book bag can always be nice to open Christmas morning. A fuzzy throw paired with a tea mug to use while curled up with a good book can also be a fun present. There are a multitude of coffee books featuring a wide variety of hobbies to fit almost everyone on your list. All in all, there’s no reason a book can’t make a wonderful gift with a little thought behind it.

Now I just need to decide once and fall all what book to bring for my gift exchange. Choices, choices.

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