It’s Monday morning. And I’m tired for one of the best reasons! Last night was the monthly meeting of my book club, the Nightlighters. And we definitely lived up to our name, talking pretty late into the evening for a school night. (We do have one teacher in the group. But we all have to be up early in the morning for work or getting our kids off to school, etc.)
The book we read was My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. I still need to write my Good Reads review on it! (Spoiler: I liked it.) The conversation was great. But the whole time I sat there stressing about something else. As it is the holiday season, we decided to do a book exchange (white elephant style) and we were supposed to bring a book to give as part of this.
Sounds easy right? Well, not for me. I was worried…
Why Choosing a Book Was So Difficult
First, I felt like I had to take extra care when choosing a book for this exchange because the people in my book club may be wary of any book I choose. Why? Well, at the first book meeting we ever had, we read Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. (Although I didn’t pick it, it’s my second favorite book of all time and I’d already read it several times.) I spent an inordinate amount of time at the meeting gushing about it. The rest of the book club was not so much in love and I’m pretty sure they were thinking: Who invited this girl to book club?
Even though it’s now years later and they seem to be OK with me and might even like me sometimes, I still worried about how a book from me might be received because of this first impression.
Factors When Choosing a Book as a Gift
For me, as it is for anyone choosing a book as a gift, there is a delicate balance of factors to consider whenever you choose a book as a gift. For the book club gift, this was compounded because any one of 8 or so of my fellow book clubians could end up with the book. Also, each woman in my book club has unique tastes and interests, therefore, I needed to find a book that would appeal to a lot of people. Who knew giving a book could be so complicated?
What I Needed to Consider:
- Fiction or non fiction?
- What genre? Should I go fantasy, realism, keep it lighthearted and funny?
- Long? Short?
- Best seller? Something more unusual?
Now, the plus side of this was that I got to spend several hours in a bookstore with my daughter looking over and contemplating books. Of course I came home with more books for my own library – my “to read” pile grows by leaps and bounds daily. I wish there were more hours in the day to read!
What I Chose and Why
Ultimately, I chose the book Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan about a woman who very suddenly (as in just a matter of days) starts to go mad to the point of requiring hospitalization and the search to figure out why.
Why’d I choose it? First, I’d already read it and liked it. So I felt comfortable giving it to another person and feeling it was likely someone else would like it too.
Second, although it’s non-fiction, which would be appealing to several women in my book club who prefer non-fiction, particularly memoirs, I felt the story would also tap into some fantastical and mysterious elements that the fiction readers in my book club also enjoy.
Third, although the book is popular, it didn’t seem like something anyone in my book club would have read previously.
Fourth, it wasn’t too long or too short and the writing is good, but not flowery or potentially overwhelming to people who like more straightforward prose.
After spending a long time reviewing possible options and second guessing my choice. I finally decided to stick with this book. I felt good about it. I was certain it would work for almost anyone in book club. And afterwards, I rewarded myself for my hard work with a little treat of coffee and macaroons from the Happy Tart. (If you live in NOVA, check it out. The place is in Falls Church, the city that inspired part of my book The Travelers!) As a reminder part of the proceeds for sales this month of The Travelers will go to charity. So maybe think about it as a gift if you’re also struggling to choose a book for someone! It might be just right for someone on your list who likes young adult and/or fantasy/romance novels! Or someone who’s into witches.
So, How Did the Book Exchange at Book Club Go?
I think it went well. The book ended up with a woman in my book club who is a Physician’s Assistant. Since the book is about a medical mystery, it seemed like the perfect fit and she seemed excited to read it! Phew! The experience also gave me a little more confidence that I could pick out a book to give as a gift!