The Book Giver


“Don’t give me any more books for a while,” my friend said.

We’d been talking about Christmas and his wish list. In the past year, I’d given him about four books to read, books I thought were particularly good for him.

He’s been hard at work taking college classes, and will finish up his associates degree here in a few weeks. Second year college classes have some weighty tomes on their reading list and he’d really prefer a break from academic readings. His bookshelf is groaning with collegiate reading assignments.

I can’t blame him for that reluctance to take on more reading, not the last month of the term. Yet the books I’ve given him are about his passions and the joys he finds in life. His passion is music, and I’ve put several thought provoking treasures in his hands. And, an anthology of “best” American short stories. A little Poe, Hemingway, O. Henry, and Steinbach is good for his young soul, I think.

Books are like that for me, part of the juices that get flowing in me when I get interested in a subject. I want to learn more, and books help me delve into something. Not that I finish every book I pick up. Not hardly.

I’ve been interested in learning more about Islam. And, the book I found about the life of Muhammed and the origins of Islam was pretty interesting. Yet, after about 300 pages, the minutiae of intertribal conflict, theological nuances and socio-economic trends on the Arabian peninsula in the seventh century had started to curb my interest in learning more about the subject. Still, my time was well spent. I didn’t cry when I put the book down and went on to the next in line seeking my attention.

Now, I’m delving into biological, economic, and environmental trends and impacts of the European contact with the Americas, begun by Columbus. I’ve learned about malaria, earthworms, silver, tobacco, and potatoes. The writer has made this potpourri of subjects understandable, and he keeps feeding my curiosity for more.

I’ve never encountered a book store I didn’t enjoy, and I almost always never escape one without at least one book in my hand when I leave. My local library is even a more tempting venue, as the librarian usually chuckles as I haul out an overstuffed grocery sack with even more books to peruse.

Like any self respecting addict of the printed word, I share my passion with others, happily checking off my Christmas list with new found treasures, and some old familiar gems, for my family and friends.

Some folks will groan when they open the tell tale rectangular packages, but, in a few weeks, they tell me how they’re enjoying the book and finding seasonal joy with a good book, a mug of tea, and a comfy chair on a dark, rainy winter’s night.

My young college friend will likely have that same reaction, as I’ve picked a few great short novels and stories for him to savor during his vacation, amid the quiet days before the new year.

12/1/2012

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