Read it; Gift it?

Would you give someone a pair of socks you wore one time for Christmas? How about a cup and saucer you drank tea out of on several occasions? And that wall hanging your great-aunt wrapped up for you last Christmas that you just don’t love?

How about a book you’ve already read, one that you kept in perfect shape?

A friend once asked if it was all right to give someone a book as a gift if you’ve read it first. I remember making a joke, saying something to the effect that she should make sure it wasn’t personalized with her name on it. That would probably make it a dead giveaway.

Seriously though I love giving books to people as gifts, and I know a lot of other people do as well. Some of the books I’ve purchased over the years as gifts are books I’d also like to read myself. Of course I only buy it if I think the person receiving it would enjoy it. I don’t just buy books for others knowing I’d be able to read it afterward. That might be considered clever to some, but would hardy seem a thoughtful gift if I had some ulterior motive. Put that way it almost sounds devious. LOL!

I personally haven’t read any of the books I’ve intended as gifts before giving them, but I don’t really see anything wrong with it if somebody wanted to read a book before gifting it. Many people admit to regifting all the time, and maybe this is a bit like that.

I have a few books I’ve recently bought that I’m considering giving away—one I’m reading at the moment, so this is why I’m thinking about my friend’s question. Will I actually give this book away as a gift? I haven’t quite decided. Perhaps if I do, it won’t be a gift for a special occasion. Perhaps I’ll make it a “just because” gift with no strings attached.

So I’m wondering, how you all feel about giving a book you’ve already read to someone as a gift? Would if feel a bit like cheating if you gave it to them as a Christmas or birthday gift or do you do it all the time?

Hey, I’m not here to judge you, I’m just curious as to how the rest of you feel about this.

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  1. Good questions. A few considerations. Are we talking family member? Family gets stuck with all sorts of leeway. Yes, I’m terrible. I’d hand down just about anything if it was to family. They know I’m crazy and have forgiven me for it. Same with my best friend. We often send each other the same card the other sent last birthday. There was one card we sent back and forth during our entire 40s. Oh, ducks just flew past the window. They’re trying for the perfect angle to their nest. Third try is a given.

    Anyway, where was I?

    Circumstances definite apply here. I say give a good book as a gift if it’s in top shape. Otherwise, just hand it over on one of those special visits when there’s no cheesecake. Wrap it in pretty paper. You’re be a hero.

    • This sending the same card back and forth seems to be popular.

      I do only buy books for family members so I’m thinking if I wanted to reread it later I’d just borrow it once they’ve read it.

  2. I have gotten a couple of humorous books for my brother and read them first. I have to stay on my toes with him! I don’t know that I would buy a book for someone else and read it first. Normally I just pass on ones I’ve read if they are interested. As to the socks, cup and saucer, wall hanging, if someone commented on the items and really liked them, sure; but just to clear them out of my house, I’d donate them to charity, instead.

    • We seems to have a different standard when it comes to gift giving for family. I’m not saying that’s bad. I just find it interesting.

      I’m hoping no one comes asking for your socks, but I’d say that generous of you to give them away if someone asked. Hopefully you wouldn’t be wearing them at the time. ;)

  3. I would give anyone a book that I’d read first. The way I see it, why bother gifting a book if you don’t know it’s a good one? My sisters love to read (we read most of the same books). So if there’s a great book I’ve read that I know they’ll love, I’m more likely to buy them a copy than to pick some book I’ve never read. It just seems to make sense to me.

    • There’s probably a lot to be said about checking a book out before gifting it. If it turned out to be a dud it wouldn’t seem like much of a gift. We all want to give gifts that others will want and appreciate.

  4. I often read the novels I give my mom first, especially if I’m not familiar with the author. She’s 90 and picky about what she reads, so I want to make sure the books are suitable before giving them to her. I don’t buy books for other people because I don’t know what they’ll like or may have already read. However, my sisters and I often pass on books we’ve read to other family members. I don’t consider those as gifts and don’t wait for a special occasion to give them away.

    • It’s sometimes a good idea to check out books we want to give out moms. Somethings simply aren’t appropriate. I know this from my own mother. She’s getting a bit tougher these days and a bit more accepting about what she reads but still.

  5. My grandchildren must feel they are cursed. Grandpa here, is a retired history teacher of 34 years. Christmas and birthday: They get a book and a savings bond. Book and a savings bond, book and a savings bond. When I die I am leaving them books and savings bonds.

    • A retired history teacher. Now, that’s interesting. I love history. One day your grand children will thank you for all those books and savings bonds. Sounds like great gifts to me. I’m getting my granddaughter used to the idea that she’s going to be receiving books from nanny with every occasion., but at a year old she’s already in love with books of all kinds.

    • That’s OK. My grandchildren call me the “book grandma”. They love all the books I have given them over the years. Now they get books I have written as well!

  6. If the book I bought new and read was in great condition and I knew another person would enjoy it, yes, I’d give it as a gift. I think of it like this: If I found a rare book that’s been out of print for 20 years and know it was a book someone would enjoy, I’d buy it and give it as a gift. Obviously, it is ‘second-hand’ and the condition may not be great, but that’s not the point. It’s the thought behind it and the treasure of the book.

    Gifts don’t have to be new to be valued. Today’s society makes us think they have to be, but they don’t. That doesn’t mean you unload your junk as gifts. It means if you treasure it and still love it and believe another would love it just as much, it’s a gift worth giving.

    • My kids actually went through some length to get a few books for their grandmother for Christmas. They were difficult to find, and yes the thought was definitely there. You’re absolutely right if a book was out of print it would certainly be a treasured gift if it was one the person would really enjoy. I bought a second-hand book for my daughter once because it was no longer in print and it was one she mentioned loving as a child. It was a big hit!

  7. What’s in the heart of the giver is what makes a gift special, I think. If a gift is given in love by someone with a heart for the one gifted, I think it’s appropriate. If I were to read a book and feel that it would be enjoyed by or profitable for a loved one, I’d give it. In fact, I’ve given books I’ve already read, because I wanted the books to bless my loved ones. On the other hand, if I begin a book, and it doesn’t appeal to me, I won’t give it away to anyone. This may be a mistake, because someone else might find the book enjoyable, but because I didn’t enjoy it, I don’t give it as a gift. Like you, I would give a book that I bought for myself as a non-occasion gift, rather than a birthday or Christmas gift, yet I don’t see that as wrong, especially in this economy. I have to confess that I don’t have much of a library of books. If I like them, I often give them away. Many of the books I’ve read I borrowed from the local library and must return them.

    • Spreading the love of a good book is a generous thing to do, Carol Ann. I’d find it difficult to give away if I really enjoyed it. I’d probably lend it out to someone I thought might like to read it before giving it away. You are a very generous soul! :)

  8. I would do it if I know that person will enjoy the book plus I would only give it if the book is in good shape. And I always like passing on books that I love.

    • Passing on a good book is always fun, wondering if the person we give it to will enjoy it as much as we did.

  9. I wholeheartedly support reading books and then passing them along…nothing wrong with that!


  10. Melanie

     /  April 26, 2011

    I think it’s a great idea, then you know you’ll have someone to talk about the book with! :D

  11. Torry

     /  April 27, 2011

    I did this once with a present for my Dad. Felt so guilty afterwards….I told hI’m the truth after he got the gift!!

    • I bet your Dad didn’t mind at all, Torry. He was probably just glad to get the book, and very appreciative.

  12. fivecats

     /  April 27, 2011

    I hadn’t thought of gifting (giving) a book I’ve read. I’ve generally bought another copy to give if I thought a family member or friend would enjoy it and wanted one for their own bookshelf.

    • Hey Fivecats you’re an author’s dream come true. :) Many people, like you, support the works of author’s they like and you can bet we sure appreciate it.

  13. Books are the best gift of all no matter what. Old, new, gently read – whatever. My one brother and I traditionaly give each other books we have alreday read. And he has great taste so I alway get a gem. I hate to see a book on a shelf getting dusty. Books are meant to be read. I know it is old but “A book is a gift you can open over and over again.” I only hope people consider my books worth giving as a gift, even if they have been read already.


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