One of my favorite things to do is look for books at thrift stores. It’s a bit compulsive; I start to wonder if I’m missing out on great finds if I miss a week. The majority of books I buy are used. It’s comforting to take home a used book. Perhaps it was misunderstood by the previous owner who didn’t recognize its beauty. Or perhaps the previous owner did love it but had to donate it because of a move. Either way, there is solace in giving a new home to an old book. That is the point of books, they are whole worlds that live on despite the author, publisher, owner, and reader.
This year I started thrifting before Thanksgiving. I scored some great finds for my friends’ gifts. The holidays are about spending time with people you love and respect. Giving gifts is super fun but sometimes unintentionally induces stress over what to buy and how much to spend. Giving a clean, used book is a great present that costs less than a well drink.
I just wanted to share some great reads with the people who make my life better.
1. White Teeth by Zadie Smith—gifted to Jessica M
2. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan—gifted to Nicole
3. Up in the Air by Walter Kirn—gifted to Sada
4. Old Gods Almost Dead by Stephen Davis
5. The Road Ahead by Bill Gates—gifted to my dad
6. The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain
7. An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin x2—gifted to Jennifer J and Natalia
8. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez Reverte x 2—gifted to Kym O
9. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon x 3—gifted to Cecile and Dan
10. The Pleasure of My Company—gifted to Sarah
11. Home: A Memoir of my Early Years by Julie Andrews—gifted to my mom
12. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes—gifted to Annie L
13. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
14. Gin and Daggers—gifted to Viniita
15. The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie
16. Porno by Irvine Welsh
17. The Seville Communion by Arturo Perez-Reverte—gifted to Lina
18. The Painter of Battles by Arturo Perez-Reverte
19. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
20. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon—gifted to Brad
21. NW by Zadie Smith—gifted to Daryl (I must admit it was new but I bought it at Books, Inc in the Castro. A portion of the sales went to Casa, an after-school non-profit.)
Everyday when I walk to work I say hello to a doorman named David. He is in the marine reserves, has two kids, and likes to read history. I wanted to give him a copy of The Devil in the White City but I couldn’t find a clean copy anywhere. They had broken spines or battered covers. For close to two months I searched. Finally, two days before Christmas, I found a hardcover.
I was particularly pleased with how pretty White Teeth looked once I wrapped it.
Here are most of the books wrapped up. I gave Dan his book much earlier as Hanukkah started on Thanksgiving.
The Owl Cave bookshop owner is a huge fan of Murder, She Wrote. I was so pleased to find this book, Gin and Daggers, written by actual author—Jessica Fletcher.
I gave Sarah, Jennifer, and Natalia books by Steve Martin. I didn’t know how much I loved him until I gifted his books to three friends.
Some books wrapped up in Swedish wrapping paper from Ikea. Looks light The Nightmare Before Christmas. Perfection achieved.
My parents ask me every year what I would like for Christmas. They always give me such thoughtful gifts. But I cannot lie, getting the specific books I ask for makes me giddy. Receiving multiple books on the same day is just like Christmas. Oh wait, it is Christmas! Hurrah!