Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Gift of a Book

I love to give away my treasures as special gifts to people I care about. I'm not sure that people always understand that when I give them something that I have owned and loved and treasured, I am giving them a piece of myself and that it constitutes an act of love for me. I think sometimes they view it as either tacky "re-gifting" or just plain cheapness.  (I have never done the former, but I confess to being afflicted with congenital cheapness.)

When someone gives me a gift that they have used and loved, it touches my heart and gladdens me to the very bottom of my soul.

Recently, I had the opportunity to go out to dinner with a professional acquaintance who I had only met once before. We got into a conversation about books (generally a "safe" topic for such an occasion). It turned out we have similarly eclectice reading tastes. I shared with her that I not only love to read novels, but I write them as well. I told her that I had wanted to write my whole life but managed to avoid it until about six years ago, when I realized that if I didn't get started, I would never realize my dream.

A few days later, I received a gift in the mail from her. It was a copy of the book The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes.

It's a fabulous book which I am reading with a pen in my hand, annotating, underlining and taking notes. I am finding myself described on nearly every page. It's an astonishing read for me, especially in view of the fact that I am soon to embark on the project of writing "the" story I have been called to write my whole life, the book I've been afraid to write.

Even better than being given the gift of a book I will treasure, it was a used book! It's a book someone had purchased, read and annotated. That person gave the book to my friend, who also read it and treasured it. The front cover was torn (I taped it up and now it's tattered and taped but no longer in danger of falling apart). The pages are dog-eared. There is writing in the margins in a couple of different handwriting (not counting my excited scribbling). It is a book that has been cherished from one book-lover and potential writer to another and now to me. I will cherish it in my own turn. I am sure I will read it and re-read it, perhaps many times. I'm going to keep it on the table next to my writing spot for inspiration.

If I am very lucky, someday someone will come into my life who will need to read the book, and I will pass it on to that person, It will be torn, tattered and surely falling-apart by then, but it will have been dearly loved and worthy of gifting to someone who can appreciate the gesture.

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