Has anyone here successfully cracked the code for giving books as gifts? As I'm sure any librarians who are reading this will agree, the nature of our profession makes us, in the public's eyes, expert gift-book advisors, when we know that selecting a book for an unknown-to-us "ten-year-old girl who LOVES to read" is a complete crap shoot. I always advise people, when possible, to make the present into an outing: take the kid out for chocolate and a trip to the bookstore (in whichever order you find most effective) and structure the book buying however you want: the kid's choice, a joint choice, one of each, etc. And go to a nice, sensible bookstore where they won't shove you up against the latest grandma-trap or try to convince you that "the next Harry Potter" is the ne plus ultra of children's book criticism.
Buying for the known has its own challenges. My guy Richard is not a big reader, but for the fifteen or so years we've been together I've been charged with presenting him with a book to read over the Christmas-New Year's break. Last year, I knew he wanted the new Philip Roth, The Plot Against America, which he loved but then proceeded to hound me to read for myself. And me, Roth, eh, not so much. The point is that when you buy a book for a loved one you live with the consequences, for good or ill. I have a couple of candidates for this year's choice and will let you know how it all works out. I'm still in the delightful agony of assembling my own reading list for our week on the Cape--any recommendations?