December 16, 2009 at 07:50 PM EST

The holiday is rapidly approaching, Shelf Lifers. You know what that means: You only have a few more days to begin the painstaking task of buying book-related gifts for your friends and family.

Because, as we all know, you can throw yourself deep in the dog house by gifting a friend or family member the wrong kind of book. If your The Biggest Loser-obsessed cousin wants to lose weight, do you buy her a copy of Jillian Michaels’ Master Your Metabolism? If your friend constantly complains about his lack of a love life, do you buy him a copy of Mystery and Chris Odom’s The Mystery Method? And would that evolution-denying aunt of yours be just a bit offended if you gift her a nice 150th anniversary edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species?

In the same vein, is it possible to feel good about spending $20 for a book that you despise but know your loved one will devour? Though several family members of mine are Glenn Beck fans, I just can’t in good conscience pick up a copy of Arguing With Idiots. Ditto with anything written by Jodi Picoult or Nicholas Sparks. (Sorry, my Kleenex-loving friends.)

Or, in the end, should we decide it’s all too much trouble and just give our families gift cards? Or boxes of chocolates instead? Because you can’t go wrong with a box of chocolates.

What say you, Shelf Lifers?

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