The greatest gift…?

Mark Anthony
2 min readDec 1, 2023

Is a book the greatest possible Christmas gift? I think it might be.

Photo by Seven Shooter on Unsplash

My friends and family know what to expect from me this time of year. There will be no expensive baubles, no designer perfumes and aftershaves; no boxes of chocolate or candy purchased at the last minute. Almost all of them will be receiving from me a book (or two). Not a book token; not an Amazon gift card; and not an Audible credit. I mean an actual physical book.

At first glance, this might appear lazy. I bought my loved ones a book last year, I will buy them another this year and, in all likelihood, I will buy them another next year. Predictable and formulaic, right? Well, yes and no.

Yes, the physical book itself is entirely predictable. It will be a collection of letters, words, phrases, sentences and chapters inked onto paper and bound.

But I put more thought into it than that. Way more.

My book selection is done not by some unfathomable computer algorithm, like a dating app. As I am reading a book myself, I am already thinking who among my friends and family would enjoy this.

I only ever gift fiction books; and in doing so, I am not gifting words but people, characters and personalities that I have hand-picked to suit the recipient. In gifting a book, I am effectively saying: “Here’s some people I have spent some time with . I think you will enjoy their company too. Enjoy getting to know them.”

It’s like introducing your school friends to your work colleagues only better and with less baggage. I have not warned anyone in advance that “Steve can be a bit outspoken”, that “Joanne drinks a bit too much” or that “Peter is a left-leaning liberal who likes cats, classical music and the writing of Charles Dickens”.

I am purely an intermediary; a facilitator. I make the introduction by handing them the book and then I leave them to decide if they like the characters and people with whom they have just been connected.

Thinking about it, I guess there is one slightly selfish aspect to the gift of a book. Assuming that my loved ones actually approve of my gift and read it, we now have an additional bond. We have something extra in common; a new topic of conversation. There is also the hope that they might uncover some hidden meaning or nuance that I missed when I first encountered the book’s characters for myself.

The title of this article asks “is a book the greatest Christmas gift?”

I think I just answered my own question.

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Mark Anthony

Mark is a journalist, author, podcaster and daily live-streamer specialising in the field of demolition and construction.