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Notes From the Book Review Archives

Category: Art & Culture,Books

The holidays are a stressful time for many reasons, not least of them the art of finding the perfect gift. In 1909, an unsigned review of the season’s holiday books meditated on the pressures of gift giving and concluded that no gift is as perfect as a book.

As the annual period of orgasmic generosity draws near, the pyschological side of the gift-giving problem looms largest and most important. It has seemed a simple thing, with Christmas still in the far-away weeks, to put one’s feeling into a gift which shall mutely say, “You have dwelt in my thoughts and my heart has turned toward you, and may this give you assurance thereof and pleasurable moments.” But when the time comes for the selection of the message-bearing gift it is no longer a simple matter. Must it be stamped with one’s own personality or bear the temperamental visage of the one for whom it is intended, or shall it be merely a snatch out of the flotsam and jetsam of the holiday season?

[ Read this the book review’s gift guide for book lovers ]

The ideal gift is that which combines both virtiues and finds equal response in the pleasures of the receiver. And of all the thousand and one gift possibilities perhaps there is none to be found so frequently in this entirely perfect class as books.

Notably beautiful, many of them sumptuous, are the books that are sent out this Fall especially for the holiday trade. Whoever ventures within the bookshops and beside the counters where they are piled will need to have either a full purse or a sternly self-denying temper. To tempt the buyer of gifts the publishers have chosen the best things out of the literature of all ages and given to them the most beautiful dress that the arts illustrator, the printer, and the binder make possible. They have vied with one another in the artistry which they have lavished upon new editions of favorites old and new. Whoever seeks a book as a holiday gift that shall be as elegant as his purse can buy, whatever his fancy, can hardly fail to find it among this season’s offerings.

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