No, really. Hear me out. “Duh” is the most appropriate answer to the question “Are books the best gifts?” However, that makes for a rather short blog post. So, here are eight quick reasons why books make the best gifts (in no particular order), from the serious to the whimsical…
1). They can teach us about everything and anything — whether through fiction or non-fiction, we can learn and experience (to a point) what it means to have different experiences, to visit new and exotic places, and discover why stuff works the way it does (and, in some instances, how it can lead to a zombie apocalypse or nuclear winter…).
2). There are books about everything — if someone can’t find a book of interest, they’re really not trying very hard.
These first two points, while they may not sound particularly exciting, are for me the most important. Without reading about different subjects, your imagination will flounder and atrophy. For me, history and science offer the most, but great fiction offers much the same benefit. Books feed and nurture your imagination. All of them — doesn’t matter what genre, whether YA or not. Without a rich imagination, life would be unbearable and pointless. Imagination is the root of inspiration. [Well, hello Civilian Self-Help Purveyor…]
3). A book you love will always be there, it will never change,* and never prefer to be with someone else. (This is not true, of course, if people borrow them without your permission…)
[* Actually, this isn’t strictly speaking true: I’m noticing a few more “Author’s Definitive Editions” popping up on shelves…]
4). Books can help to bridge divides — how many times have you met someone and had an immediate connection because they loved the same books? Or how many times have you spoken to someone precisely because they were reading a book you loved? Saying “That’s a great book” is possibly the only time I’ll interact with strangers on public transport… There is also nothing more satisfying than introducing someone to a new author or series.
5). Related to the previous point: I got to know my partner through books, really. When we first started getting to know each other, I bought her a few Terry Pratchett and Scott Lynch novels. Kind of out-of-the-blue, and after a conversation that had allowed me to quote from (I think) Pratchett’s Death. It was probably the following scene from Hogfather, as it was likely around Christmas:
The rest, as they say, is history.
6). Books can elicit the full range of human emotions: joy, fear, sadness, loss, sexy feelings, humour, surprise, victory and defeat. Not better than a friend, but they can also provide comfort and support for all of our emotions, too. Just as there is a book on ever topic, there are books aplenty for every situation and emotion. This is a good way to discover if you are dead inside or not.
7). They can be damned fun — action, adventure, humour, science, fantasy… There’s a novel to entertain in every way.
8). They can be so damned pretty. All lined up nice on a shelf…
In other words, books are the greatest gifts.
To celebrate the holidays, Jo Fletcher Books has also provided the following excellent novels for a giveaway. Open to the UK and EU only, I’m afraid, if you’d like to win these books, leave a comment and/or email me with your address. I’ll pick the winner on Saturday morning. The three novels up for grabs are three of JFB’s best from 2014. Though, to be honest, pretty much everything they release is fantastic, so it was tricky to pick just three — I went for three very different novels: