Monday, December 15, 2008

Great Gift Ideas: Relatively Hard to Find Books

I've blogged about Kate Christensen and Sam Lipsyte several times before, and as such, you may already know that I've been wanting some of their earlier work for a long time. Christensen's In the Drink and Jeremy Thrane and Lipsyte's Venus Drive are perfect examples of Relatively Hard to Find Books. Most bookstores don't carry all of every author's backlist, so consequently, it's the earlier titles that get the short shrift. To be clear, I'm not talking about rare books here. I don't think any of these titles is even technically out of print, they're just surprisingly hard to find in mainstream bookstores. I haven't seen either in years, I'm always looking.

Now, you might be thinking, "But if you love these authors so much, why not just hunt them down online?" My answer to this is actually pretty simple: I'm not that kind of person. It's not that I don't buy things online (I've bought several gifts over the web this year, always from independent businesses, of course), but rather that I'm not much of a sleuth. To find them on Alibris or Powells and have them shipped to you the next day just seems like cheating. I want to stumble upon these titles in some out of the way bookshop, the sort of place that carries all the books that I love. (I should probably just special order them, but what can I say, I'm lazy.)

Or I'd like to receive them as a gift. To open a gift expecting, I don't know, the latest John Le Carre book (which I'd like to read, incidentally) and discover something for which you've been searching is a thrilling feeling. It gets at the heart of what giving a great gift is all about -- knowing the person you're giving it to.

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