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Old 12-02-2013, 04:39 PM
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You got someone a book for Christmas, Ok to read it before giving it to them?


A friend of mine was out shopping with her 15 yo daughter. The daughter picked up a couple of books and remarked how she was going to get them for her 13 yo sister, but that she was "so reading them first". The mom was disappointed because she had already purchased the same books to give the 15 yo for Christmas, and now the 15 yr old will have already read them.

I was more dismayed that the 15 yo would think it was acceptable to read books that she meant to give as gifts. My friend brought the idea up as a discussion at dinner that night and said that neither girl seemed think there was anything wrong with it as long as you didn't damage the book in anyway, like cracking the spine.

I still think it's not right. You don't use someone's present before you give it to them. What do you guys think?
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:43 PM
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I tend to read the books I give as gifts, as described.

I understand why you find it distasteful, but I suspect it's common.
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:45 PM
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Is it wrong to shop for gifts at a used book store?
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:46 PM
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It's totally ok to use some gifts before you give them. Especially books. Movies are not as you have to take the plastic off first and then it's not new.

Some gifts are ok and some are not. I think it just depends on what the gift is. Books are ok to use beforehand but butt-scratchers are not.
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:46 PM
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Doesn't seem wrong to me at all! If anything, I would be happy that someone else read a book before giving it to me, since it would indicate he is A) a wise steward of our limited resources, who eschews needless duplication, and B) actually qualified to recommend the book to me, since he knows what's in it.
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Weeping Wyvern View Post
Doesn't seem wrong to me at all! If anything, I would be happy that someone else read a book before giving it to me, since it would indicate he is A) a wise steward of our limited resources, who eschews needless duplication, and B) actually qualified to recommend the book to me, since he knows what's in it.
There is no Universal Rule about this, but there are plenty of people who feel about it as Weeping Wyvern does, and at least among such people, it's a perfectly acceptable practice.

Needless to say, if you read a book before giving it to someone else as a gift, it is not okay to reveal spoilers from the book before they've had a chance to read it.
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:57 PM
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Is it wrong to shop for gifts at a used book store?
Not at all, and that is not what I mean. If it's obviously a used book, then its a used book. But if you buy a new book at a book store, it seems wrong to me to "use" it then give it to them as if it were new.

For those of you who it it's Ok, what if it was a sweater? If you buy someone a sweater for Christmas is it Ok to wear it once before you give it to them?
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:58 PM
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Doesn't seem wrong to me at all! If anything, I would be happy that someone else read a book before giving it to me, since it would indicate he is A) a wise steward of our limited resources, who eschews needless duplication, and B) actually qualified to recommend the book to me, since he knows what's in it.
I don't mean they've the book in general, but that they actually read the copy the bought specifically to give as a gift.
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:01 PM
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You got someone a book for Christmas, Ok to read it before giving it to them?

Me: "Sure!"

My wife: "NOOOO!!!!!!!"


mmm
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:04 PM
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I'd totally read a book before giving it to my sister. This is because my sister and I have a long-standing agreement that this is an okay thing to do. (Though I do still tease her about the time she gave my birthday present to her boyfriend to read as well before I got it!) I think this has its roots in our childhood, where we'd go to the bookstore and sit around reading parts of books, careful not to break the spine.

I have a couple of other, very close friends with whom I talk about books a lot, where I'd probably feel comfortable doing that, although I'd ask them first. I'd also feel comfortable giving these particular friends books bought from a used bookstore or a used book sale. Most of my friends, however, I'd feel uncomfortable asking, and in that case I wouldn't read a book I'd bought for them before giving it to them, or purchase an already-used book as a present.

I would also not wear a sweater once before giving it as a gift -- unless it was my sister, in which case I might, although I'd clear it with her beforehand. (I'd be worried about messing it up, though -- I'm much more careful with my books than with my sweaters.)
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:06 PM
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Not at all, and that is not what I mean. If it's obviously a used book, then its a used book. But if you buy a new book at a book store, it seems wrong to me to "use" it then give it to them as if it were new.

For those of you who it it's Ok, what if it was a sweater? If you buy someone a sweater for Christmas is it Ok to wear it once before you give it to them?
So obviously used books are okay, but books that you can't tell have been read are not?
Would you actually care if someone read a book before giving it to you and if so, why?
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:08 PM
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I wouldn't personally wear a sweater and give it to someone because what if it was the wrong size? Now I've taken the tags off, plus I'll have to wash it, so it might be damaged. But if someone gave me a used sweater and I liked it, what would I care if they'd worn it?
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:14 PM
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I wouldn't do it. IMO you don't have to go to the extreme of cracking the spine before it is obvious that a 'new' book has been read.
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:14 PM
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I guess for me simply its that I was taught growing up that when you give somebody a present you don't use it first. I didn't realize it wasn't a universal thing.
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:15 PM
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I wouldn't because it wouldn't appear new- the spine might be cracked, you might bend a page or spill coffee on it. It's not mine to use- it belongs to the recipient, at least in my mind.

I only would give a used book if there was something special about it- a rare edition, a favorite book that you can't find new, an edition from their childhood with the "right" cover art, etc. I wouldn't give a used book as a gift otherwise. I know my husband is extremely sensitive to book mold and he'd get sick fom many used books ( which is why my old book collection sits behind glass now).

Last edited by IvoryTowerDenizen; 12-02-2013 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:19 PM
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I wouldn't do it. If it's a paperback, it won't be in new/mint condition. Even with hardcovers, you can often tell if a book's been handled.

In the OP's specific situation, the daughter is basically buying herself a gift. She's being a little shit. There's some pleasure in being the first to read and recommend a book, and she's depriving her sister of that.

And Mom should have suggested other titles.
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:56 PM
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If it's already an obviously used book, can you read it?
What if you don't know if the person will like it, so you read it first to see if it's even any good, and buy them a different book if it isn't?
I'd rather read a decent book than a fresh one. If someone else reads it first, so much the better. Now I'll have someone to discuss it with.
If it's a book I want to read too, must I really purchase a separate copy so as not to be a "little shit"? Oh wait no, even reading my own personal copy in advance will deprive the recipient of some ethereal pleasure of firstness that every recipient is owed.
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Old 12-02-2013, 06:11 PM
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I don't think you should use something first and then gift it. It's really not more complicated than that. I'm sure I could think of rationalizations why it's ok, but I don't think it is. If I wasn't sure it was a good book, or had no reason to think they'd like it, I wouldn't buy it. I could borrow it after if I wanted to share the experience, or yes, get my own copy.

That's great that it might not bother you, but if I'm gift-giving I'm going to err on the side of caution unless I know they won't be bothered by it.

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Old 12-02-2013, 06:11 PM
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I wouldn't do it. Seems a scabby sort of way to give a present. My son was reading a book he really enjoyed but had to take it back to the library. He knew it was the sort of book I'd like, so he bought it for me for Mothers' Day. I read it and gave it to him to read. I'd have been somewhat disappointed in him if he'd read it first.
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Old 12-02-2013, 06:24 PM
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Seems wrong to me. If you want to read it also, buy one for yourself too. Otherwise you aren't guying the book as a gift; you're buying it for yourself and then giving to them later.
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Old 12-02-2013, 06:27 PM
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I do that all the time. I don't see anything wrong with it. It's not as if its food you're going to taste, or clothes you're going to wear, or a car you're going to put miles on.
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Old 12-02-2013, 06:30 PM
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Is it wrong to shop for gifts at a used book store?
I sell used books. You'd be surprised at how many of them appear to have never been opened. If it isn't obvious that it's used, sure, go ahead.

I also volunteer at a library bookstore, and we've had some people in there doing Christmas shopping on a budget.

As for the OP, oh, heck, I've done it myself, being careful not to break the binding or smudge pages, and told the recipient that I would or did.
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Old 12-02-2013, 06:41 PM
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In the OP's specific situation, the daughter is basically buying herself a gift. She's being a little shit. There's some pleasure in being the first to read and recommend a book, and she's depriving her sister of that.
When the mom mentioned it, that is how it sounded to me. That she was taking real pleasure in reading the books before her sister even though they were meant to be a gift.


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If it's a book I want to read too, must I really purchase a separate copy so as not to be a "little shit"? Oh wait no, even reading my own personal copy in advance will deprive the recipient of some ethereal pleasure of firstness that every recipient is owed.
You seem to be taking this very personally. I'm sorry if it hit a nerve or something.

Last edited by Rhiannon8404; 12-02-2013 at 06:42 PM.
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Old 12-02-2013, 07:25 PM
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. . . As for the OP, oh, heck, I've done it myself, being careful not to break the binding or smudge pages, and told the recipient that I would or did.
My friends and family take it completely for granted that I will read gift books first, and I take it completely for granted that they have.

And...yeah, washing one's hands is kind of important here!
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Old 12-02-2013, 07:32 PM
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If your intent is to give a used book as a gift, then by all means read it first. I don't have any problem with the issue of reading it first - but it's pretty hard to read a book without making it look and feel read. Even if they washed their hands and removed the dust jacket, I suspect I could still tell if a book had been read by most of the people I know. I would definitely know with a paperback. As the recipient, I wouldn't be offended, but I'd be thinking "This is a well-preserved used book" and that might not be what the gifter intends.
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Old 12-02-2013, 07:35 PM
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You seem to be taking this very personally. I'm sorry if it hit a nerve or something.
No, I'm just curious about irrational behavior in general. There must be some sort of internal reasoning process involved, and I'd love to know more about it.
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Old 12-02-2013, 07:36 PM
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I think it's tacky to use a gift before you give it.
I wouldn't do it but I don't know that I'd get all that upset if my friend read the book first. I wouldn't do it though.
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Old 12-02-2013, 07:39 PM
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I sell used books. You'd be surprised at how many of them appear to have never been opened. If it isn't obvious that it's used, sure, go ahead.

I also volunteer at a library bookstore, and we've had some people in there doing Christmas shopping on a budget.

As for the OP, oh, heck, I've done it myself, being careful not to break the binding or smudge pages, and told the recipient that I would or did.
I've received a basket of a dozen or so used books as a gift, probably for the cost of one or two new books. I like literary fiction and it's not cheap new, so it's just smart shopping. Why the need for secrecy? Reduce, reuse, recycle, folks... Save a tree!
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Old 12-02-2013, 07:46 PM
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I wouldn't do it. If it's a paperback, it won't be in new/mint condition. Even with hardcovers, you can often tell if a book's been handled.

In the OP's specific situation, the daughter is basically buying herself a gift. She's being a little shit. There's some pleasure in being the first to read and recommend a book, and she's depriving her sister of that.

And Mom should have suggested other titles.
This.

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If your intent is to give a used book as a gift, then by all means read it first.<snip>
And this.

We bought books for most of our Christmas presents this year - they're sitting over there, <---, not getting read by me, because they're gifts, and not for me to read. I also agree that you can tell when books have been read already, and *I* would know that I read it already, then passed it off as a new book. If I want to read it, I'll ask to borrow it or buy my own.
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:05 PM
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I wouldn't do it, and I don't really like it when my wife does it, although it was for her brother, and they have their own relationship from long before I was around, so I didn't press it. If you want to read the book you're giving, why can't you either buy your own copy, or wait until after they've read it to borrow their copy?
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:11 PM
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I wouldn't do it, and I don't really like it when my wife does it, although it was for her brother, and they have their own relationship from long before I was around, so I didn't press it. If you want to read the book you're giving, why can't you either buy your own copy, or wait until after they've read it to borrow their copy?
Maybe you *can* buy your own copy, but the answer to that is obvious: it is a waste of resources. You don't use up a book when you read it. That's why libraries are an okay idea. So why act like you've violated the book by reading it? Are only virgin books worth reading?
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:13 PM
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I wouldn't do it. It feels tacky to me.
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:17 PM
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Maybe you *can* buy your own copy, but the answer to that is obvious: it is a waste of resources. You don't use up a book when you read it. That's why libraries are an okay idea. So why act like you've violated the book by reading it? Are only virgin books worth reading?
No, but this is about gift giving, not book reading. In general, most people do not give used gifts, even if using them doesn't use them up.
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:23 PM
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Maybe you *can* buy your own copy, but the answer to that is obvious: it is a waste of resources. You don't use up a book when you read it. That's why libraries are an okay idea. So why act like you've violated the book by reading it? Are only virgin books worth reading?
In my opinion, it's not about the book, it's about the fact that it's a gift. Ultimately, if you give someone a gift, you're saying that they are worth you sacrificing something for them, usually time and/or money in practice. Giving someone a book I've already read isn't really a gift, unless I particularly intended to read it again soon, it's just a general part of friendship. It's the difference between buying someone a pint if they're short of money, and buying them a bottle of scotch as a present.

In short, it's not so much about the object itself, but about what you're actually doing. Sharing something is not the same as giving something. Both are good and worthy things, but have somewhat different meanings.
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:32 PM
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Maybe you *can* buy your own copy, but the answer to that is obvious: it is a waste of resources. You don't use up a book when you read it. That's why libraries are an okay idea. So why act like you've violated the book by reading it? Are only virgin books worth reading?
So why can't you borrow it after they've read it?
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:42 PM
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No, but this is about gift giving, not book reading. In general, most people do not give used gifts, even if using them doesn't use them up.
That's right; I can buy you some lovely gift soaps for Christmas - you don't mind if I take a bath and use them to clean myself before I give them to you, do you? After all, the soaps have many uses left in them.
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:45 PM
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Tacky. I like that new book smell and feel. Not cool if someone else screws that up for you.
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:47 PM
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So why can't you borrow it after they've read it?
... which is what my son did. I didn't think twice about handing it on to him after I'd read my book. I would've been miffed if he'd read it first.
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:49 PM
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So why can't you borrow it after they've read it?
Sure, that's how I'd likely do it, especially since I'm more of a last-minute shopper.
But doesn't that just potentially inconvenience them? Now maybe they feel rushed to read it, or maybe it doesn't appeal to them in spite of your best efforts and now you've obligated them to read it or pretend to have before lending it to you. It's meant to be a gift, not a chore. If I did read it first, I'd tell them. What's the big deal, just some rule for the sake of being a rule?
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:49 PM
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Buy the book for yourself, read it, and then offer it to your friend.
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:50 PM
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Tacky. I like that new book smell and feel. Not cool if someone else screws that up for you.
They gave you a gift, so it wasn't yours until it was yours. Your gift might be a used book. Oh no!
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:53 PM
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Tacky. I like that new book smell and feel. Not cool if someone else screws that up for you.
This. The experience of a new book is special. A bit like being the second to read the newspaper. It doesn't matter how carefully they have put it back together. It's just not the same. Borrow the book after they have had the joy of opening and reading those virgin pages.
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:53 PM
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They gave you a gift, so it wasn't yours until it was yours. Your gift might be a used book. Oh no!
People are having an interesting conversation and you're posting kind of specifically antagonistic posts.

AFWIW, when I buy someone a gift, it's already theirs. Telling someone "I'd love o borrow it when you get a chance" accomplishes the request without makeing it some stressful situation.

Last edited by IvoryTowerDenizen; 12-02-2013 at 08:55 PM.
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Old 12-02-2013, 09:15 PM
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I have seven brothers and sisters. Growing up we often couldn't even afford to buy books. When we did buy them (new or used), anyone could read them, and books mostly got read by multiple people. Claiming that a book was yours and no one else's just wasn't done.

After I left home, I continued to bring many of the books I had bought and read back to my parent's house and left them there for everyone to read. I keep many books for myself, but I have no problem giving many of them to other family members. I always bring a pile of things to my family's Christmas gathering for everyone to pick over. This includes books, courses on CD's, calendars, and miscellaneous things acquired that I don't want to keep for myself.

To this day, I often give books (usually children's fiction) to my nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, and the children of friends that I have already read. Mostly I buy them new before reading them, but I also buy some used if that's more convenient. Some of them are books that have been on my shelves for many years. Any Christmas present I give to the children of one of these families (i.e., all those chilren of a brother, sister, niece, or nephew who haven't left home) will always be joint presents. They have to learn to share just like I learned to do. It doesn't bother me that some things I give are used but in good shape, just as it doesn't bother me that some thngs I give for presents are ones I bought from the remainder shelves of bookstores greatly reduced in price. The only rule is that you don't give junk as presents, but you can give used things in good shape.
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Old 12-02-2013, 09:18 PM
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People are having an interesting conversation and you're posting kind of specifically antagonistic posts.

AFWIW, when I buy someone a gift, it's already theirs. Telling someone "I'd love o borrow it when you get a chance" accomplishes the request without makeing it some stressful situation.
Oh am I? I guess I'm not fit to converse with the people. Enjoy sniffing your shiny new books, consumer.
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Old 12-02-2013, 09:20 PM
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Oh am I? I guess I'm not fit to converse with the people. Enjoy sniffing your shiny new books, consumer.
Seriously? Can't you discuss something without being so rude?
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Old 12-02-2013, 09:30 PM
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Seriously? Can't you discuss something without being so rude?
I think the description of the 15-year-old reading the books she purchased as gifts for her sister as a "little shit" was pretty rude. The idea that a book loses some precious virginity because someone has read it is childish and absurd (even the 13-year-old would-be recipient did not care), and anyone who feels that their gift was theirs before they received it and that someone reading it has taken something from them is probably someone to whom life has been very kind, so if my contrary opinion is so deeply offensive to you, clutch your pearls and lace hanky, I guess.
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Old 12-02-2013, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by AnaMen View Post
I think the description of the 15-year-old reading the books she purchased as gifts for her sister as a "little shit" was pretty rude. The idea that a book loses some precious virginity because someone has read it is childish and absurd (even the 13-year-old would-be recipient did not care), and anyone who feels that their gift was theirs before they received it and that someone reading it has taken something from them is probably someone to whom life has been very kind, so if my contrary opinion is so deeply offensive to you, clutch your pearls and lace hanky, I guess.
So the answer is no, then. Ok, got it. Thanks.

I'm happy to no longer discuss this with you.

Last edited by IvoryTowerDenizen; 12-02-2013 at 09:33 PM.
  #49  
Old 12-02-2013, 09:35 PM
AnaMen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
So the answer is no, then. Ok, got it. Thanks.

I'm happy to no longer discuss this with you.
Likewise, to be sure!
  #50  
Old 12-02-2013, 09:40 PM
AuntiePam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnaMen View Post
Sure, that's how I'd likely do it, especially since I'm more of a last-minute shopper.
But doesn't that just potentially inconvenience them? Now maybe they feel rushed to read it, or maybe it doesn't appeal to them in spite of your best efforts and now you've obligated them to read it or pretend to have before lending it to you. It's meant to be a gift, not a chore. If I did read it first, I'd tell them. What's the big deal, just some rule for the sake of being a rule?
You're stretching now.

Anyone with enough chutzpah to ask to borrow a gift book wouldn't worry about "inconvenience" or "obligation."

I wouldn't ask to borrow a book I've given someone. If I want to read it, I'll get my own. And if it'll make you happy about conserving resources, I'll get it from the library.

What most everyone is trying to explain is that the gift of a book is just like a gift of anything else. You don't use it first and you don't ask to use it later. That's just tacky.
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