Books are delightful society. If you go into a room and find it full of books–even without taking them from the shelves they seem to speak to you, to bid you welcome.
-William Ewart Gladstone
My earliest memories of the gifts I loved best are of the books that were given to me by my parents on many birthdays. My parents being avid readers, with their constant, I’m sure, encouragement I started reading at a very young age and by the age of 5 I was wearing prescription glasses. (4-something years ago Lasik surgery corrected my myopia [and who knows what else!] and rendered me spectacles-and-contact lens-free!) A stack of 5 or 6 “pre-loved” books (the ones my parents knew I would love) brought me the kind of joy no other gift has so far–and even today, I greatly prefer used books over new ones.
Books are a personal gift in that you must know what the recipient likes to read–unless it’s a novelty book of some sort or a self-help book that you think they need, but neither of these will deliver that grin which tells you you’ve done a good gift-picking job–and you must know what they’ve already read or which books they already have in their possession.
Books are a treasure trove. They are that panel which sounds hollow when you knock on it because there’s a hidden doorway behind it, opening doors to new worlds and universes. Reading is one of the best habits that can be inculcated in children because they will learn things from books that they could never have learned anywhere else, from anyone else. Books can teach you to think for yourself and help you develop a mind of your own, your own opinions, convictions, perspectives. They can ask you questions that really make you think and reveal a new side of you to yourself. They can make you ask questions you didn’t think needed answers. And books can answer questions you’d otherwise never think of asking. Isn’t that wonderful?
The pen is certainly mightier than the sword. A well-constructed set of words can make you laugh, force you to think, draw tears, disgust you, enchant you, make you hope, create despair, paint pictures, arouse compassion, beautify life, generate ideas, trigger imaginations…Am I forgetting something? I’m sure the list is much longer.
Once a girl saw me reading and rudely said, “Get a life!” I didn’t respond. The ignorant girl with no respect for the written word can only be pitied. But I will take a page out of Wodehouse’s book and hope she is eaten by bears.