Today is Small Business Saturday in the UK, where we are all encouraged to pry ourselves away from the computer, stop being so apathetic and support local businesses. They keep the high street vibrant, they bring a bit of variety to our all-too-generic world and they stick up for us, loyally taking care of their customers and going out of their way to make sure we get exactly what we need. It’s only fair that in the midst of all the Christmas craziness, we stick up for them too. Naturally, for me, this is an excuse to go shopping for books.
I had Christmas presents to buy for my family and, like every year, opted for books. At this time of year they’ve learned to expect the small rectangular packages wrapped in newspaper under the tree. Although none of my brothers read, they get books every year and I’m convinced that each of them has a pile of unread books from me stacked up somewhere that remains untouched.
I popped into Skoob, Judd Books and Persephone Books and bought books for mum, dad and each of my three brothers. The most expensive (but also the classiest) was £12 from Persephone books, whereas the cheapest was a £3 book of poetry from Skoob. I’ve now tucked bookmarks into each book from the bookshop where I got it, lovingly inscribed the front inside leaf with the date and a personal message and wrapped them up to be posted off. Hunting around for these books forced me to think really hard about the personality and interests of each member of my family and encouraged me to spend the time it took to get them something unique, something just right for each of them, rather than the first thing that caught my eye online.
As you do your Christmas shopping for your loved ones, remember that books are the gift that never gets old. Buy books for the people you care about and, if you can manage it, do it in a small business where your money will go toward making sure that the dusty basements and cranky booksellers who yield those completely perfect gifts stay exactly where they are.
If you need a bit of help figuring out where your nearest independent bookshop is, have a look at the Matilda Project Map. If your city is not one of the few represented on the map, send me a comment to let me know which local business you’ll be supporting and where I should go next time I’m in your corner of the world.