All I want for Christmas is… another book, of course! – Guest Post by, Jemima Pett…

Have you ever bought a book, or a six book series, for a friend or relative, not knowing whether they’d like it? When someone bought my series for her niece at a Christmas Fair a year or so back, I was pleased, flattered, and nervous. What if the girl didn’t like them? I could see trouble ahead.

Wish Lists and Nearly Perfect Presents

The best thing Amazon ever did for the average reader was to create the Wish List. Gone are the days when we furtively slid lists of what we would really like into places our nearest and dearest might find them, only to get nearly what we wanted. I have suffered years of guilt, knowing what a truly horrible person I am, because of the ungratefulness I felt for those nearly perfect presents.

Until, in a fit of honesty, my wonderful, and really, really, nice colleague Lotte, confessed that she also suffered from the nearly perfect present problem. Were we really such ungrateful and horrible children? Of course not!

Nearly perfect presents are when you hope for the Beatles latest album (in my case) and get the last one. Or in reverse, when you admit at work you would quite like Barry Manilow’s Greatest Hits (come on, there are some great songs on it) and you get his latest album (no, I am not a Barry Manilow fan, although I appreciate many people are – forever). I just like the songs…

I was sort of relieved that Lotte also suffered months (if not years) of guilt for her disappointment at getting the wrong version of her ideal gift. Both of us suffered distress that someone had gone to the trouble and cost of buying us something that we really didn’t want, or need.

I still hate getting presents I don’t want (or like). It seems such a waste of resources. It’s one reason I loved the move to ebooks: no longer would all the unsold paperbacks be pulped as soon as the bookstore got tired of storing them. Print on Demand is my idea of heaven.

Sometimes you can receive a book you didn’t know about and discover it’s perfect. Most times, people who know that you love reading and ignore your wish list either buy you something from a series you’ve mentioned, unaware of how many copies you already have, or buy you something they think is awful but you might like. (I’ve just finished Sophie Hannah’s The Narrow Bed. That thought came from there…)

If, like me, you have a Goodreads To Read list that tops 500 books, getting a book that you don’t want is… a tragedy.

The Amazon Wish List is the answer to our prayers. You can put anything on it, even from other websites. With any luck, your great-aunt might get you the one you want in the colour you asked for! Success! It’s a win-win — you love it, she enjoys your love, nobody throws it out on the 1st January. I often wonder what that niece made of my six books that her aunt bought for her—but I didn’t spot them on eBay.

To Read (TBR) Lists

Talking of To Read lists, I have a confession to make.

Earlier this year I told you how I used Reading Challenges to push me to get through my list. My TBR was over 500 after I’d added my Christmas presents. I set myself a challenge to get it below that by the end of the year.

I’m on track to read 60 books this year, but I’m struggling to complete my Mount TBR Challenge target of 36 books that were on my list at the start of the year. I might make it to 34.

In August I picked up a neat trick from Lia at Lost in a Story (via J Lenni Dorner), of reducing my reading list by going through it, ten at a time, and rejecting those I was no longer interested in. I seem to lose three each time I do this. That sounds like a drop in the ocean at times, but it is 30%. In time, I might start losing books from my list at the rate I gain them.

Oh, you might like to have a little more context here – my To Read list currently stands at 557.

I seem to add twice as many books to my list each year as I read.


All is lost.

Oh no it isn’t! Just give me a book from my list for Christmas! There is nothing better than a book from my wish list. I love them all!

Five Books for 2018

Books on my To Read list I am most looking forward to reading in 2018:

  • Everything is Lies by Helen Callaghan (pub. 2018 – I loved her Dear Amy in 2016)

  • Subway | Palliatopia by S W Lothian (pub 2018 – I’ve read a lot of his books, and they’re definitely different!)

  • Shadow of the Norman Arrow by Wendy Leighton-Porter (I’m behind with this series, and Wendy has just won a slew of awards for them)

  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (this has been in my first ten for ten years, and I want to get rid of it)

  • Dining Out Around the Solar System by Clare O’Beara (because I loved the 2nd in the series, which I got as one of my first NetGalley books in 2016)

PS Please don’t give me these, I’ve either got them already or they’re on order!

What are you looking forward to for Christmas, or your present-exchanging holiday?

Whatever you celebrate this season, I hope you enjoy it. Happy New Year!

Percy says Merry Christmas

Jemima Pett

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