THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF gift-givers: those who try to give you something they know you’d like, and those who try to give you something they’d like you to like. I tend to fall into the latter camp, and often find myself apologizing when the recipient opens the gift and stares at its contents, bewildered, and then have to explain that I discovered this great thing I knew they hadn’t heard about but hoped they’d love as much as I did.
Usually it relates to books.
I try to do it sparingly, because I feel like the literary equivalent of an indie rock snob (“Who’s your favorite band?” “Oh, you wouldn’t have heard of them…”), but one of my hobbies is hunting down unknown books that are somehow unknown despite their world-changing brilliance. Even before I read Stephen Sample’s advice in The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership (only read books that have stood the test of time; those that are still in print 50 or more years past publication), I would spend hours going through Amazon.com user reviews to find casual mentions of people’s favorite books. If I’d never heard of them, I’d find them. If the reviews for the books in question all said, “I don’t know why nobody’s heard of this book; it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read,” I’d buy them on the spot.