The other day in one of my grad seminars, we were talking about writing; and one of the other doctoral students in the course asked: “Why have I never been taught to write a lit review?” And then we all talked about writing pedagogy in graduate and undergraduate courses for like an hour. It was awesome. Towards the end of the convo, one of my program colleagues mentioned Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts”/Bird by Bird as a great writing resource. I commented that the undergraduate library’s copy was currently unavailable bc I had checked it out earlier that week. And then another grad student in the course asked me jokingly, “Don’t you own it? Didn’t you get seven copies of it for undergraduate graduation from well meaning relatives?” And I said back, jokingly, no, my relatives were like, graduation’s done, time for a real job! (Sound advice that I promptly ignored). And that got me thinking…have I ever received a book as a gift? I couldn’t readily recall a book I’d gotten as a gift and that was disconcerting. I have tons of books I’ve bought myself, mostly for coursework. But it seemed impossible that I’d never received a book as a gift. So, now I’m thinking about it:
In the third grade, Mrs. McEvoy, my friend’s mom who was also a teacher, gave me a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to take home and read. But it wasn’t a gift so much as I started reading it at her house and she let me take it with me when I went.
When I met the poet (the boyfriend) last summer, within a week of dating he gave me a book of poetry by Maggie Nelson called Bluets. It’s all about the color blue, and it’s perfect. Again I don’t know that this was formally a gift so much as a clever (successful) ploy at wooing me.
I’m constantly borrowing books from Merideth for class or for leisure reading (which never actually happens and then I keep the books indefinitely). And actually our friendship started in my first semester here when I asked to borrow a book (that I couldn’t afford to buy) for a course and Merideth offered to have me over for dinner at her house so I could pick the book up from her. Dinner, a book, and friendship. That’s a win!! And also, I suppose, several gifts in one.
This weekend on a whim drop-in at the bookstore Merlin and I bought a book to share and talk about.
During my Master’s program my roommate Ashley bought me a copy of Tina Fey’s Bossypants as a thank you for helping her to diagram sentences for a few hours one day.
And when I was a kid, I remember getting a bible as a gift one time for first communion or for confirmation.
Last Christmas my brother game me a book by Michael J. Fox. I also held onto a copy of Steve Martin’s Pure Drivel that I stumbled on at my brother-in-law’s house and he insisted I keep it. He also sent me the The Complete Poems of Robert Frost and James Joyce’s Ulysses. So, an eclectic array of gifts there.
I do also remember having tons of picture books, children’s books, and later young adult novels. Though I think the novels were hand-me-downs inherited from my dad (bc he seemed to have known them all well and always gave me a plot synopsis or a kind of advertising pitch about which I should read next), it occurs to me that the picture books must have come from somewhere. Where they inherited? Or were those originally gifts too, given when I was so young I can’t remember them as such?
This reminds me: I’ve had boxes of books in the trunk of my car for months that I need to drop off at the donation center.
One thought on “Books as Gifts”
My mom bought me so many books as gifts when I was a kid. She wrote notes on the inside of the cover. When she first got sick, I bought her a Shel Silverstein book (we share a love for him) and did the same for her. It’s one of those things I will cherish forever