Okay, I know my brother-in-law likes literature, and he prefers modern literature, so will this beautiful Folio Society edition of Siegfreid Sassoon's 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer' be okay for him? Is early 20th century modern enough? What if he doesn't care for war stories? Will he find Siegfried Sassoon a little random, and suspect that I only bought it because it was the only vaguely suitable volume on the shelves at the second-hand bookstore? Will he be a little miffed that I've been shopping at the second-hand bookstore? On the other hand, would he sneer if I bought him something that obviously came from a multinational megachain like Borders? I could get him that interesting Garrison Keillor novel that's on sale at Borders, but if he goes to Borders himself he might notice it, and then suspect that I only bought it for him because it was cheap. Does he go to Borders? I know I like Garrison Keillor, but would he appreciate that gentle Midwestern sense of humour? Does he even know who Garrison Keillor is? Maybe I should just get him something from the Fremantle Arts Centre Press, since I know he has a thing for local publications? But what if he's already got it? And if he finds out that I haven't read whatever it is that I buy, won't he suspect that I'm just fobbing him off with something that only meets his interests in the most peripheral fashion, thus demonstrating that I don't really give a rat's arse about him and what he likes? Might that not also cause him to reflect that he doesn't really care about me either, and had absolutely zero input in the gift his wife picked out for me? Will this gift thus just increase the gulf between us and cause tension within the wider family?
I could just get him a shirt. Everyone needs shirts. But what size is he? Should I go vintage or modern? What if he doesn't appreciate the kitsch value of vintage? ...