9: in which topics are provided

I’m annoyed whenever I see variations of this sentence on every other blog in the universe, so it’s hypocritical to put the same thought here, but I don’t care. Here it is. It’s too early in the month for me to be feeling so utterly wordless.

Happily, there are people in the world providing ready-made topics for bloggers! I found one today: Booking Through Thursday, a blog that offers a book-related topic to write on every Thursday.

I don’t like this Thursday’s topic very much, so I’m going to lift one from late September and ramble ineloquently about it for a bit: What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?

Books are my favourite presents to receive, but the most difficult for me to give. I’m always afraid that the recipient may already have read it, may already own it, or, worst of all, might read it and hate it. I do love to give books to the few friends whose literary taste I know very, very well. The number of people who fall into this category is very small — I think I’ve only given books to the oft-mentioned E. and my father in the past year — but O what joy to gift them with books! I gave E. an extra copy of T. S. Eliot poems at the beginning of our friendship, last semester I bought a really beautiful copy of Rilke’s Book of Hours for her when she was going through a rough time, and right now I’m considering picking up a copy of Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments because she was (naturally) stunned by the bits of it I made her read while we waited for the Baraka reading to begin — she asked to borrow it but I can’t part with it, that book has been living in my bag and traveling everywhere with me since I bought it, so if I come across it I will get it for her. For my father I buy books that I really fiercely want him to read because if I don’t put them into his hands I know he won’t remember to pick them up on his own. I gave him a copy of Nabokov’s Pnin last spring — I don’t know that he finished it, but he did love what he read. Right now I am searching for the perfect antique pocket edition of Hamlet to give to him when I get home for Thanksgiving because I stole his and then wrote all over it, thus making it unreturnable.

I love books so much that when I give them as gifts I want them to be perfect: the exact-right edition of a book that the friend or family member is guaranteed to love. I do, however, have extra copies of certain fall backs to give out at a moment’s notice to anyone who needs them — I’ve always got extra copies of Nabokov, Faulkner, and McCullers ready to impose upon any friend or acquaintance who hasn’t read them yet. Giving books to almost-strangers is a good way to start friendships. If they don’t read it or if they do and they hate it they’ll think you’re weird or forget about you, but if they love the book then great bonds are formed. I know that I associate certain books inextricably with the people who lead me to them — mostly all in good ways.

Well, that post is totally messy and dull! I shall try to redeem myself tomorrow.


~ by Not Alice on November 9, 2007.

2 Responses to “9: in which topics are provided”

  1. Worse than their reading it and hating it is their not reading it all.

  2. Hmm, I dunno. I sort of agree — it’s mortifying to give a book and have it left unread, but personally it’s so very painful to me when someone I love hates a book that I adore that I would almost rather they not have read it at all. Which is the main reason why I rarely give books as gifts, even though they are my favourite thing to give! It feels much safer to buy a pretty trinket, or to make a card and write something lovely on it. Funny, that works of art by others’ are more dear to me — and therefore more wounding if rejected — than things I’ve made myself.

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