Today is my birthday. I’ve owned a bookstore for 16 years and for 16 years, I have not received a book as a gift. Everyone just assumes I can get all the books I want. While this is true, there is something so lovely about getting a book as a gift.
There is nothing quite like a good friend shopping for a book for you. I see tremendous thought go into book purchases by my customers. When you give a book you’re really thinking about someone. What do they like? What mood are they in and how can a book help that? Too often it is assumed that I know all the books in the land, therefore it’s pointless to get me a book. Oh, reader, this is not so.
I love being introduced to a book by a friend. Someone introducing me to their favorite author is a privilege. I like learning about my friends by what their book passions are. Why do they like Neruda? How come I’d never read Kaye Gibbons until Elizabeth handed me Ellen Foster? It’s not enough to tell me about these authors, I can’t remember names these days. But a book I’ll remember.
Some of my best book birthdays include my sixth when I got a copy of the Dr. Seuss book, My Book About Me. A gift of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle when I was nine made my Christmas vacation. A tenth birthday present of Julie of the Wolves and I remember so clearly sitting in my room, practically transfixed as I read the book one weekend. I can’t believe I still remember these books.
But also remember a Christmas present in my 20s of The Secret History and Wicked. Gone are the days of someone giving me a cookbook. I still have my Silver Palate Cookbook from 20 years ago. Books create memories for the giver and the receiver. So, remember, just because a bookseller works in a bookstore, doesn’t mean she wouldn’t like a book now and again.
What are some of the books you remember the most being given?