Friday, January 13, 2006


Poor Mrs. Nearby. She never gets books for Christmas. But then I don’t either but this year that all changed. This year I got three books. And guess what? One has a brief greeting in the author’s hand addressed specifically to me. How neat is that?

Now Mrs. Nearby and I get quite involved in reading during the winter months. I loan her books to read and she loans me books to read. On Boxing Day she popped in for coffee with five old Charles Dicken’s books. I was so pleased. New books are nice; old books are special.

So while I scanned the titles of the special books Mrs. Nearby brought me, she sat caressing the fresh jackets of my new books. Then she asked pensively, wistfully, with a tone of sadness.

"Why do I never get books for gifts? When reading is my principle occupation and everyone knows it, why don’t I get books for Christmas? How come you got books and I never do?"

And you know that comment forced me to think about it. Why doesn’t she get books? Why don’t more people get books? And so then and there I went off in a tangent of all those pop-ups in my head about why people don’t buy books for gifts.

"Could it be because friends are doubtful about what kind of book to buy?
Maybe because when you wrap up a book, you wrap up an obligation—the obligation to read it.

Maybe giving a book suggests the receiver has too much leisure time.
Maybe your friends are clinical housekeepers that keep homes barren of books. And seeing the books you already have, they think the last thing you need is another book.

And as for Self-Help books, be thankful you don’t get them. That is another slippery slope. These are books that can easily be interpreted as criticisms of how you think or act. When I bought a friend a copy of my favorite cookbook, her son remarked, "One thing Mom knows how to do without a book is cook!" I was appalled that this was the interpretation cast on my gift."

After this rant, I was rather out of breath. "My God," my neighbor replied with astonishment. If that’s only the first quick rush into your head about why I never get books, I’d hate to see the whole list. But I do believe your right. But that still doesn’t explain why you got books for Christmas and I didn’t."

Poor Mrs. Nearby. No books for Christmas. So when she was leaving I asked her which one of my new books she would like to borrow cause I’ll be reading the special Dickens books she loaned me for a week or two.

Do you ever get books for Christmas? Or perhaps I should ask, how do you feel when you get books?


Blogger Eliz said...

I love books and am always delighted to receive them. Not a single book was given to me for Christmas. Not one.

Receiving a book doesn't mean that a person has a lot of leisure time. Receiving a book means that the giver sees you as someone who likes to expand your mind whether through learning or imagination.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Poor eliz, no books for Christmas either. If I lived closer you would be given instant membership to our neighborhood bookclub. Hopefully you will get some this year -- maybe for birthday or next Christmas.

I like your reason for giving books best of all. Although with my wild imagination the givers probably hope books will provide me enough facts to cancel out some of my fantasy fiction.

Thanks for the enjoyable visit and for your added insight.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Africakid said...

at last count, i got at least five books for christmas! (including the two i ordered with a giftcard from my inlaws) always the very best gift...

1:58 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

africakid, I'm so glad you commented. You certainly got a fine stash of books and you are so right -- they are the best kind of gift. Enjoy your reading.

4:01 PM  

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