Despite living in a house where we are surrounded by books, both our own and my stock, I do love receiving books as Christmas presents. I love new books, I love old books. I love receiving books I've dropped hints for, and books that are total surprises. I love getting vouchers to chose my own and I like books chosen for me. Surprise books are difficult. It can be hard to get it right. Just because you and your friend both like books by one author it doesn't necessarily mean you'll both like books by another. There is however a very great pleasure in bring surprised by a book, by falling in love with a book that you know you would never have bought yourself.
Some favourite surprise books in this house are Ghastly Good Taste: Or, a Depressing Story of the Rise and Fall of English Architecture by John Betjeman, Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook, Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes, Borderliners by Peter Hoeg, Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell (similar theme to Tess of the D'Urbervilles but much better handled I think), and Man Walks into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer by Pete Brown.
Do you like books as presents? Do you like surprises or would you rather chose your own? What has been the best surprise book you've been given?