Monday, November 22, 2004

Books as glimpses into the soul

I'm reading the Jane Austen Book Clubright now and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. In the story, a man (who is then a friend) gives a woman a gift of books that he enjoys that he wants her to read. They are science fiction books and she puts them aside as not her kind of reading. But then later he decides he would like more than friendship and she decides she has to read the books before she makes up her mind. If she enjoys the book...maybe. If not...no way.

How fitting! I've inspected book shelves at peoples' houses for years. I inspect book shelves the way some like to nose into the medicine cabinet (which I've never understood). I inspect the shelves not just for the titles themselves but also for their appearance, location and reachability. (Are they just for show? Do they actually read the books? Any heavy reading? Do they all look like leftovers from college? Are they dusty?)

And what was especially interesting to me in the story was the concept that if she didn't like the books, she probably wouldn't like the man. Somehow if someone doesn't like a restaurant you enjoyed or a movie you loved, it doesn't have the same affront as if they didn't like the book you "got." How could they not? What did they miss?

So in this holiday season, always remember the gifting of books is not an easy task, though it may seem so on the surface. Much thought must go into the choice. If you buy someone a book that they would never dream of reading, somehow it's even worse than the ugly sweater or the deluxe coffee holiday set.

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