Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gifts... Especially, Books

I started collecting classics in the mid 1980s. Every month, a beautiful, gilded, faux leather bound book would arrive at my home. Eagerly, but carefully, I'd open the box from the Franklin Library, to see what the title would be and what color it would be and what gold letterings and designs it would have on its cover. After savoring the smell and fanning the crisp new pages, I'd give it a home on my book shelf.

It was over two years before I stopped collecting the books that, at the time, were surprisingly inexpensive. Titles included, My Antonia, Gulliver's Travels, and The Portrait of a Lady. About thirty books were in my library, yet I read only six or so. Single at the time, I could have/should have read more. (Okay, so I had a TV and a life.)

Years later, I subscribed to another book collection - from the Eastern Press - and this time, the books were "genuine leather," a selling point on the advertisement. I read another six or so.

You may be able to tell that I have had a slight addiction to books. All of the above is not even intended to be what this post is about. Somehow, when I began writing, I found myself reminiscing and stopping to browse the shelves of pretty (yes I said pretty) and mostly unread books. Thank you for indulging me.

However, there are two other areas in the house that are filled with books that I have read. People in my life know that reading is one of my pleasures, which results in an occasional book as a gift. Many are from my husband and children, but also from other relatives and friends. How thoughtful they are.

The reality...

I can't read every book that I own. I'd like to, but I can't.

I was reminded of this when Cousin Bee asked if I'd read the book she gave to me for Christmas.

"No," I admitted. "I skimmed a few pages though. I'm going to put it on my night table," I continued, "that way, I'll remember to read it."

Does she really care if I read it or not? Isn't the gift her way of saying that she likes me and that the book says she thought about my interests?

I think so... or maybe she thought, "I don't know what to get her. I'll go with a book."

A gift to someone is somewhat presumptuous; a book seeming to be more of a message than a vase or a shirt. The title and content says, "You need to know this" or "This will make you laugh" or "This will help you cope;" or simply, "The reviews on this book are good, so I hope you'll enjoy it."

A book feeds you. Whether you like its story/message or not, it presumes what your mind wants to absorb.

A shirt says, "I think you'll like this" or "You'll look good in this" or "You need this." Whichever, it's all external.

The vase: I was at a friend's home when she showed me hers that was a present. I couldn't help but laugh when she said, "I need this vase like I need a hole in my head."

At least it can be stored away and brought out in the spring for fresh flowers; unlike the wedding present my husband and I received almost twenty years ago - a framed art print.


The giver had never been to our new home together and had never asked what type of art we liked. Fortunately, she never visited and asked where it was hanging.

I'm all for books as gifts and fine with receiving more. Which ones I'll read, "Who knows?" Just when I decided my next book to read, I looked over and saw Cousin Bee's gift on the night table, picked it up, and began to read. It's a good book.

Do you give books as gifts? How do you feel about books you receive as a gift?

Other thoughts?

By the way, since I  started blogging, I've read at least 2 books written by bloggers. Day Laughs, Night Cries: Fifteen by Peaches Ledwidge and Whole Latte Life by Joanne Demaio. (Joanne doesn't appear to be making the blogging rounds anymore.) I've also read a book that I won by entering a blog giveaway. All were good reads.


Barb said...

Hi Anita, You bookish gal! NO, please don't buy me a book, though recommendations are very welcome. I only read on the Kindle now, and I like to sample a book before buying. Our tastes in books are as varied as our personalities. I wouldn't expect anyone else to know what I might enjoy reading - it changes from day to day! During the remodel, I took boxes of books to the library (all books I read). I kept only the ones I absolutely couldn't give up. BTW, with my formaldehyde allergy, paper and ink are problematic for me. Thank goodness for electronic books and magazines! Let's keep reading, Anita!

Unknown said...

I'm not nearly as big a reader as the rest of my family. My middle child refuses to go electronic preferring the beauty of books. The other two have kindles and always have something to read since you can borrow at the library without having to make the trek. Books are always a great gift in our family.

Munir said...

I used to read two books a week before I got married( this is besides my college work. Then one book a week until I had my first one. Once I had children, I read children books to my children and nothing else except Magazines. Now I have a lot of free time, since my kids are now adults I can read as much as I want to. The problem is that with fiction I cannot follow a story in the sense that by the time I come to the second chapter, I have forgotten the first. I have to read and re- read the same chapter for the story to sink in. Still I do get books from my kids as gifts and also gift cards for book store.

Rob-bear said...

Books are good, given or received. Though, I must admit that I like non-fiction. Bear is way too serious, perhaps.

Anyhow, happy reading, Anita.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

Abby said...

I think books generally make for good gifts. They are just another way to connect with others, unlike a vase or a shirt, perhaps? I love sharing book recommendations with friends.

Personally, I don't really like to keep books around unless they are nonfiction reference books. I usually get novels at the library, or if I receive one as a gift, I'll give it away when I finish it.

I notice you've added your book doings to your sidebar. Ever go to goodreads?

Mari said...

I love to read, but can't keep up either. I feel like every time I'm about to read something I got for myself, I'm given a book that "I would love". And I usually do - just finished one of those this afternoon. Oh for more time!

Margie said...

I have more books that I know what to do with and I gave away plenty on our move last year.
I am a true book lover.

Happy Reading, Anita

Smiles :)

Bryan Jones said...

I'm fine with books as a gift, although I do prefer book tokens so I can choose my own titles. Like you, I do relish the smell and feel of a new book.

joeh said...

I read mostly when on vacation. If someone isn't murdered by page three I put it down.

Linda Hensley said...

I have a friend who gives me books he thinks I'll enjoy or will teach me something useful. His choices are always interesting and show that he knows me and my interests. I've kept all of his gifts on my shelf. I often think other people give gifts that they'd like to receive and reflect their tastes instead of the recipient's tastes. To me, it isn't how much someone spends, but how much they show they care. As for books, I'll read anything, but I only keep what I love.

Tabor said...

I read about 80% of the books I get. Some are disappointing and I let them go aside. I do give books, but I am very careful on selection and I never ask fi they read them! I have books tumbling everywhere in my house.

Shelly said...

I just can't bear to ever get rid of any books, so I have way too many. I love them all, though. My reading tastes are so eclectic people who know me well know it's not easy to book shop for me. Both my sister and my older daughter manage large book stores, so I am well supplied. Yours are beautiful~

Linda said...

I do give a book as a gift from time to time and I enjoy receiving books, too. I also love crossword puzzles and love to receive them as well. The books that I have I given as a gifts are always motivational and encouraging...Chicken Soup for the Soul, for example. I love the way you describe books...opening the crisp new pages, the smell, etc.

ShadowRun300 said...

I enjoy such a variety of books that I would be thrilled to receive a book as a gift. And my hubby and I often go to the bookstore on our "date night". There really is something magical and beautiful about a book. Not sure I will ever be convinced to buy a kindle or nook.

fsmum said...

I love to get books as gifts and to give them also. Most times I would give a book voucher so they can pick for themselves. I have kindle now though and I have so many books downloaded, I don't know where to start. I also have piles of books on my bookshelves! So many books, so little time!!!

fsmum said...

I love to get books as gifts and to give them also. Most times I would give a book voucher so they can pick for themselves. I have kindle now though and I have so many books downloaded, I don't know where to start. I also have piles of books on my bookshelves! So many books, so little time!!!

Mage said... one gives me books, but they all know me. I have a basket full of classic, must read poetry books, but everything else in the house is read. Some are read to shreds. Every room is heavy on bookcases, and our small living room has three,....all with read books. If I don't like it, I donate it right away.

Yes, if she gave it to you, she wants to know how you like it.

Me....I give books only to those I know are addicted. :)

Ms. CrankyPants said...

Interesting! I think the danger of giving me a book is that I might have read it, or that I already own it. I, too, have a large collection of books; many of them are in the to-read-really-really soon category. But I love recommendations (as long as there are no animals that die at the end). :)

Rebecca S. said...

People buy me books as gifts sometimes - usually a title I've asked for for Christmas. I give books rarely, but I do know what my mom likes so if I find something I think she'll really enjoy I get it for her. She is the most well-read person I know.
Funny, my post this week is also about some favourite books. Must be in the air this week :)

yonca said...

I love your honesty, Anita!
I used to read before starting to blogging. (More than 7 years now)
I don't read so much lately. The last book I read was about 'thinking positive' which I really enjoyed it.Puts me in a better mood whenever I repeat some sentences :D
I buy books as a gift only someone I really know her/his hobbies/interests.I received oboks as a gift many times mostly about cooking:D

Jen said...

Nope, never receive them as gifts, but I'm often loaned books. They used to get passed around a lot, but less often now that everything is electronic.

Hilary said...

I don't tend to give books as gifts, nor do I receive them, generally. What I'll do though, is make a point of lending people who I'm pretty certain will enjoy what I've read a few good ones. For the past year, I've been downloading books from the library on my e-reader so I just keep track of the titles I've enjoyed and share that info instead. A couple of friends do likewise with me.

I think that buying art for someone is arrogant. Art/decorative items are so personal and difficult as best even if you know the person fairly well.

Buckeroomama said...

I often give books as gifts --especially to children (mine and others'). For my kids' birthdays, they can almost always count on at least one book as a birthday gift from us. Call me an unofficial promoter of getting children to love books/reading.

Simone said...

I have a couple of addictions...books and scarves. I could just wander around in the library or bookstore and be completely content. I love the smell of books and being taken away by someone's inspiration. I'm glad that you feel the same way. I envision a wonderful bookcase filled with books..."to read" "have read" and "saving for a rainy day".