I know a few people who have a book like this, the book that they buy and give to others. It’s the book that is so amazing, that you think has so much to recommend it to *anyone* who reads it, that you’ll put your money on the table, betting for the book’s cross-audience appeal.
My partner’s “Book-I-buy-for-others” is _Ghostwritten_, by David Mitchell. It’s an amazing book, probably in my top-five favorites that I’m not embarrassed about, and something that inspires me anew every time I read it. Mitchell is obscure enough that many people haven’t discovered this amazing author, or have only read his later _Cloud Atlas_ if they have (and for some reason, everyone I’ve met who read _Cloud Atlas_ raves about it, but has never gone back to read Mitchell’s earlier works. I don’t get this at all). Mitchell crosses a lot of genres in a way that genre enthusiasts usually love and mainstream lit enthusiasts aren’t put off by. _Ghostwritten_ is a good “Book-to-buy-for-others”.
Mine is _Impossible Things_, by Connie Willis. It’s a collection of her short stories, and Willis is hand’s down one of the best short story writers I’ve read. The tales are by turns hilarious, heart-wrenching, romantic, and horrific–sometimes all in the same story. She meditates on everything from quantum physics to academic obsolescence, using forms like the screwball comedy and settings like the London Blitz to bring out the themes she’s working with. There’s very little hard science in this science fiction, but there’s a whole lot of humanity.
I’ve gone through many copies of _Impossible Things_. So many copies–giving my copy away and replacing it, handing them out as gifts, etc. I’m probably a cottage industry for Willis just on my own. I’m happy to be so. This is an amazing book by an amazing author, and one that anyone interested in–well, *anything*–should read.
So, am I unusual in this? Do others have a book or books that are their “Buy-for-others” book? I’m not talking books you recommend. I mean, seriously, you have bought several copies of this book because you keep giving it away. If so, what is it, and why?