The Gifting Trick

11739503786_9cf6f0d37d_mConventional wisdom says that to find the perfect gift, you should think about what the person really wants; what their interests and hobbies are. I don’t do that.

Instead, I think about what they got me last year.

It’s not as horrible as it sounds. I’m not making quid pro quo my gift-buying protocol; this is no fruitcake-for-a-fruitcake strategy. I just think that most people struggle with following that conventional wisdom. They don’t have the imagination — or the empathy — required to come up with a gift that the receiver truly wants. Instead, they end up buying something that THEY truly want. I don’t regift the item back to them, either. I just use it as a hint for what they’d like next year. Sweater? check. Hand lotion? check. Framed photographs and flashlights from my dad? uhhh… My dad is a different beast altogether. I know he loves to get books for Christmas. My librarian grandmother made it a tradition to buy him the hardcover new releases from “his” authors every year. But she’s not with us anymore, and neither are any of his authors. So every Christmas, I look for a new author for my dad. Here are the rules of the hunt.

  1. No gore; no extreme violence. Especially no violence towards children.
  2. Must be funny. The hero can’t take himself too seriously.
  3. Genres: action/thriller/spy/mystery.
  4. No lawyers.
  5. Nothing written before 1980 – if it is worth reading, he has already read it.

His favorite authors — the ones that Granny used to buy for him — are John D. MacDonald, Dick Francis, Donald Hamilton, and Robert B. Parker. There’s a certain wry tone to his favorite books, a touch of misogyny, and a lot of rescuing. A couple of years ago, I bought him Storm Front by Jim Butcher because the lead character had EXACTLY that tone. I thought I had a winner, but Dad “didn’t like the wizard s**t”. I found a lovely bookstore worker who recommended John D. MacDonald based on his book requirements. I thought for sure she could come up with some winners. She recommended Carl Hiassen, but he only got an “okay” for Skinny Dip, and no rereads. I can’t apply my gifting trick in this situation. So I’m out of leads. Readers: Do you have any book recommendations for my dad?

 Photo courtesy Origami48616 via Flickr. License


3 thoughts on “The Gifting Trick

  1. I wish I had a suggestion for your dad, but those aren’t my genres (and I would have gone with Jim Butcher too!) Still, I love the thought you’re putting into it. I hope you come up with something great!

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