I have been using the website LibraryThing for the past few years (I just checked, it has been five years!) to catalogue my books. For the past few years they have run a project called SantaThing, where users exchange book gifts. It is run through the website - you pay your money and they match you up with other users based on the books you have catalogued. You choose books for one user, while another user chooses books for you (and it is a secret santa, so you only find out which user picked your books at Christmas). LibraryThing does all the ordering and paying, so you don’t need to worry about giving internet strangers your name and address! I’ve always thought it was a cool project, so this year I decided to take part.
When the package arrived in the post I initially planned to keep it until Christmas, but then I finished a book I had been reading and thought that I may want to start one of the ones that I had been sent, so I opened the package. I have received Embassytown by China Mieville and The Dervish House by Ian McDonald.
I actually already had a copy of Embassytown, but I had foolishly not yet added it to my catalogue, so I can’t blame my secret santa for choosing it. It is also a great choice, as I have been planning to read it for ages. Actually, the copy that I’ve been sent is a bit nicer than the one I bought before, so I have just started reading this new copy of it.
The Dervish House is also a pretty good choice, as I’d read good things about it, and I also quite enjoyed two previous books by the same author. In fact I had very nearly picked it up in the bookshop the week previously, so I am glad that I restrained myself at the time. My only small gripe is that I’d have preferred a normal paperback edition rather than the trade paperback size, as I find them a bit awkward to read, but it is only a minor thing.
Overall, I am happy that I decided to take part, and pleased with the books that I received. But I will say that I enjoyed picking books for someone else just as much as I enjoyed receiving them. I was matched up with someone who reads a lot of science fiction and also popular science, and who had a lot of the same books that I do. I sent them Consider Phlebus by Iain M. Banks, Packing for Mars and Ringworld, and I do hope they like them. It has been a fun experience and I plan to take part again next year.