Last week I discovered a quote from Lenore Hershey, the former editor of McCall’s and Ladies Home Journal magazines, where she in her sage wisdom advised us, “Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.” Now of course, I agree with her words, as both an author and a reader. In this day of gift cards, I love to receive a gift card to Borders or Barnes & Noble. Armed with my gift card, I drive to the store thinking about what books I want to read, have heard about, and what treasures lay waiting for me to discover them. The gift card is a blank slate for me to make myself happy. Bookstores, and libraries, are my amusement park.
SD Girl is polling young adult authors for their December blogs. We were asked the following questions:
What WAS the one gift you had to have? Did you get it? If so, how much did you relish the gift? If not, how did you feel about that?
As a teen, I wanted to fit in with my classmates and dress just as nicely as many of them but I also wanted new books for Christmas. So I asked for clothes and I received some. Not the Guess jeans and Skidz pants that were expensive and fashionable though. But I also asked for music because I was a big New Edition fan growing up along with Salt ‘n’ Pepa, The Boys and a few other singers.
But the books were what I really wanted. And received. Imagine under the tree, boxes and boxes with tags addressed to me. Heavy boxes filled with books. And I was happy. Boxes filled with Sweet Valley High and Babysitters Club as far as the eye could see and my mother’s wallet stretched! Christmas 1987, in addition to other books I received a thesaurus because I was famous for using the same words over and over. Can you believe I still have that thesaurus? The cover has tears in it as I carried it with me to college, the pages are yellowed and I no longer use it thanks to Thesaurus.com, but it sits on my bookshelf still.
Christmas 1988, I received a cassette player walkman with auto reverse. Boy, you would have thought it was an Ipod, lol. There’s a picture of me lying on my bed with the headphones on while listening to my Salt ‘n’ Pepa tape and reading a book. This was the year I received Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown as a gift. I want to say this is the first “heavy” book that I read. This is a book that I’ve read several times since I first received it so many Christmases ago. I remember that it was a book I skirted around for a few months, but one day I picked it up and was hooked before the first chapter was even ¼ done. I kicked myself for not reading it first because it was more than just a book. It was an educational experience for me to read that book.
Clothes come and go as the styles and trends change. Skidz, Cross Colors, and Marithe Francois Girbaud are no longer fashionable replaced by Sean John, Phat Farm and a host of other labels, but books are timeless. Books make the perfect gift as they are lasting treasures. Books can be rediscovered and passed along to share with others. Books can be discussed which is why book clubs are so popular these days. After an outfit ceases to fit you or be in style, it’s useless, but a book keeps on feeding your soul after you read the last words.