AA Gill’s ramblings and musings are usually the best bits of his Sunday Times restaurant reviews. Yesterday he was writing about the real reason we like to give books as Christmas presents.
“This is the time of year when, traditionally, we indulge in things bookly and literish. We fret the bookmonger’s groaning board like word-starved waifs confronted by a logoscrumptious buffet. And we give books nilly-willy. Books are papery gifts that say lots and lots — much of it stuff that the author never wrote. We give them to people we’re obliged to and secretly hate.
A book says: “I’m cleverer than you.” It says: “You need to read this because you have no conversation and your thoughts are wan, halt things. I’m giving it to you with the thin smile of pitying patronage. And it will be a personal and private recrimination for years to come, because I know you’re cancerous with guilt about all the unconsumed words left on your bedside table.” A book says: “I loved this when I was 13. Now you’re in your late forties, you might be able to appreciate it.” Never for one single, naive moment imagine that a book at Christmas is well meant. Read between the lines, dummy — it’s an ode to snobbery and loathing. " (more here)