02 January 2013

Life is a Mystery...

Fortunately, the quotation above doesn't significantly apply to me (but I do avoid shopping malls like the plague and only cook because I would starve otherwise). All in all, I am a pretty temperate book-buyer. I add to my personal library in small bits, but I make extensive use of libraries, and occasionally borrow interesting titles from friends. Goodness knows I would love more books. Yet every Christmas I am left in a familiar state of bewilderment when I am given no new tomes to carry gleefully home.

I know it is vain to complain about gifts. But yes, you heard that right-my family, my own dear family, rarely gives me books as Christmas gifts.

Or as any gifts. At most very rarely. If any of my dear friends reading this had the opportunity to witness this confounding annual occurrence, my kin would be met with looks of utter incredulity.  I have list upon list a mile long of books I would like to read-most on social media sites, no less. Christmas shopping could not possibly be easier. Instead, I am graced with utterly unexciting trinkets like jewelry, which to me are less useful than a European toaster oven that fits none of my kitchen outlets. Or, when I am given books, they tend to be the awful new-age tripe (e.g.) that makes my skin crawl.

Things were different in childhood. As a kid, I got all sorts of great books from relatives. People love to buy books for kids. Partially because children's books are so much fun, but also because I think there is an instinctual push to help children learn, explore, and exercise their imagination. My nieces certainly get spoiled by the shower of books bestowed upon them by myself and the rest of my family. I don't think I would have read Lloyd Alexander or Lois Lowry, or have discovered C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy so early without familial introductions.

Somehow that changes with adulthood. I sometimes get a feeling that my relatives are deliberately using this lack of books to tell me something--that I already have too many books, that I spend too much time reading, that they have no idea what I'd like, that they fear that I've already read anything they would choose for me, that they feel a gift of a book would be impersonal or too close to a school prop to be meaningful, that I should entertain myself with other things for once, that they just don't understand that books are my lifeblood--or don't care. I will say this once and for all: none of those worries matter. To me, it is a sad pronouncement to declare, albeit in a veiled way, that the age of imagination has passed. I am a simple soul: give me a good book and I will be enchanted for hours--days--weeks. There is no surer path to my heart than a good book.

But of course I still love my dear family. It is as beautiful and mysterious as any written story. And who knows, one day, they may learn to use my Amazon Wish List.


  1. That is so very, very sad! When I think of my dear daughter showering me with the three (huge) annotated Sherlock Holmes books, my other dear daughter giving me a book of quirky Texas history, my dear husband giving me Paul Johnson's Art, a book of Eastern Orthodox saints and icons in art ... and a couple of others (I think) ... well, my heart goes out to you!

    Hey, are you ever on Goodreads? Because that's where all the scraps of my book talk go.

  2. Thanks for the commiseration :)

    So far my Goodreads account is just a glorified set of lists! My priority is always on my personal book journal, but someday I will get around to spitting out some brief reviews.

    1. I like to use the reading updates as a note-taking spot. Plus I enjoy seeing what everyone else is putting on their "to read" list.