Day 7: Library books, a gift of reading with no strings attached

by guest blogger, Eloise Collison:

A few years ago my partner and I came up with a better way to buy books, and give great Christmas gifts to each other.
We wanted some last minute, no packaging, truly recycled gifts so we borrowed books from the Ottawa Public Library.
You can “shop” on-line, search your favorite subjects and be as frivolous as you like. Use the on-line catalogue to reserve your books, or browse the shelves at your local branch. You’ll quickly come up with a pleasantly hefty stack of books to give to your favorite book lover.
If you really are working last minute, then browsing is the best bet. If you are organized enough to shop early you can even order your favorite music cds and movie dvds.
This year my partner is getting two Carl Hiaasen mysteries, an author he hasn’t tried before. There’s no risk giving books this way. If he’s read the book, or finds it dull after a few pages, he can just pick something else from the decadent stack of books under the tree.
I also picked up Daniel Ichbiah’s book “Robots” a history of…well…robots and other really geeky things. It’s perfect. It’s the kind of book I could never really afford, and this way I won’t feel guilty looking at it gathering dust on the coffee table come June. In mid-January, after we’ve renewed it a few times, it goes back to the library.
I’m also giving him “Stories from the Bow Seat: the Wisdom and Waggery of Canoe Tripping” by Standfield and Lundell. Another large, lavishly illustrated book, meant to encourage him to finally go on that week long canoe camping trip we’ve been talking about.
To really get that “try all the chocolates in the box” feeling, I try to get a little of everything:

* Biographies…I don’t often reread biographies, so I don’t have any qualms about returning them. Last year I picked “Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood”, by Oliver Sacks. The choices here are endless…how about Frida Kahlo, Isaac Newton, Condoleezza Rice? (maybe not.)

* Non-fiction… Last year’s choice was “Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time”
by Dava Sobel and this year it’s the history of the Halifax explosion with “Curse of the Narrows: The Halifax Disaster of 1917” by Laura M. Mac Donald

* Cooking…If you‘ve had it with cooking by December 25th, this is a great way to inspire your partner to take a turn. From Vegan to Vietnamese, there are so many possibilities to choose from. This year I picked up “Sushi American Style” by Tracy Griffit and “the Naked Chef Takes Off” by Jamie Oliver. Even my 16 year old likes to cook with Jamie Oliver, the recipes are healthy, all made with his trademark pared down technique.

I enjoy receiving library books too, this year I’m hoping for a new knitting book, or maybe some nice fat gardening books, to help me get through the next snowstorm.
I confessed to the staff at the library that we have been giving their books to each other for the last few years. I thought I might get some odd looks, but this year the librarian reminded me in early December that I should think about placing my orders…and that she couldn’t wait to see what I was going to pick!

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