As I hand it over, I imagine that person feeling how I felt. I imagine their mind changing like mine did. I imagine their life changing like mine did.
Is that not why we give books in the first place? Because we want to share what they’ve done for us with someone else?
It doesn’t usually happen though.
Some books I’ve given have had no impact whatsoever. They probably weren’t even read. Others I’ve talked about with the recipient. Some merit a passing comment. But what separates one reaction from another?
First, whether it’s about you or them. See, I’ve given books because I enjoyed them. Because they changed my life and mind. Really, I should be giving books because they could have a profound impact on the recipient.
Which got me thinking about the different levels of book giving. I came up with three.
Level One: Recommendations
You say to someone, “I read this. I think you’ll really enjoy it.” Or someone includes it in a newsletter or reading list intended for a specific audience. Or features it in a blog post and encourages you to buy it.
Level Two: Simple Gifting
This is where you buy them a physical copy or give your own copy away. This has more significance because you’re giving them a physical item, not just a recommendation. It implies that it’s important because you’ve gone to the trouble of actually getting it for them. But aside from giving them the actual book, you’ve done nothing else.
Level Three: Complex Gifting
This is where you buy them a physical copy, select the sections that are most appropriate or useful to them and write them a note explaining why.
Each type has it’s uses and drawbacks. They all work at different times and for different people. But whichever level of gift you decide to go for, here’s some things to keep in mind:
- How well do you know them? The better you know them, the easier it becomes to recognise a book that will have a profound impact.
- Remember, it’s about them. Not you. The best books you’ve ever read probably won’t be the best books for them. Think about the use they will get from it, not how much you loved it.
- You’re trying to find the right book for the right person in the right place at the right time. It’s a shot in the dark. A lot of things have to fall into place for the book to resonate. Which means it doesn’t happen often. So don’t be disheartened when your gift fails to achieve the impact you were imagining.
But when it does hit home? Smile. You’ve just given someone one of the greatest gifts.
You’ve changed their life.
(A closing thought: There’s a fourth level. Writing a book for someone.)