I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas and received lots of new books to read. Sadly, I don’t receive books as gifts any more. Is that a gasp I hear from you?! Well, I used to receive books, mostly from my mother who has since passed away but now I get the same statement from everyone “I don’t know what you have already read so I got you a gift card to buy books.” Don’t get me wrong, I adore receiving gift cards so I can make my ridiculous to-be-read pile on my Kindle even larger. There is something so delicious about being able to log on and buy two or three books at a time without feeling guilty (okay, so I don’t really feel guilty I just worry the hubby is going to get annoyed and give that “you are ridiculous Jessica and have a serious problem that I will put up with for the rest of our marriage” look). Looking at the pretty new unread books on the Kindle just makes me warm and fuzzy all over but, this is a big but, it is not the same as receiving a book as a gift. Receiving a book as a gift is a multi-layer experience for me, first, there is knowing it is a wrapped book in my hands, a book that I have no idea what it is, all wrapped in shiny paper, tempting me to figure out what it is. Second, there is receiving a book from someone else, knowing that either they loved it and care enough about me to share that love with me or it is a book they think I will enjoy. I think sharing a book is a very personal event, it is almost like sharing your baby because what if they don’t like it? What if they criticize your baby? I realize that it can be tough to share and even harder to share ebooks (although ebook providers have made this easy but it can be intimidating to the non-techie). While I love receiving print books either as a gift or in the mail I do prefer reading ebooks, especially now that I have a little one, it is SOOO much easier to balance my kindle in my hand while rocking him or feeding him (I don’t know how all you mommies did it before ebooks). I know that sounds like a problem, here I am complaining about not receiving print books and yet I am going off about preferring to read ebooks, it is a problem but I have decided I am okay with this dichotomy in my life.
As a result of my loving receiving books I have become the “book” aunt to my nieces and nephews, they know that any gift they receive from me will be a book I loved when I was their age. I LOVE discussing books with them, what did they love, what did they hate, what impacted them, children are so great about telling you exactly what they think about the book in such a free way that I am never offended if they don’t like the book I gave them. This year was fun for me because I got to pick out books for my new little guy. I realize that four months old is a little young for some books but I knew he was going to receive toys and clothes from the grandparents so I decided that most of the gifts from the hubby and me were going to be books. It was great! I loved mentally debating with myself over the merits of the Llama Llama series verses The Brown Bear finally I decided to go with some of my favorite books from when I was a child (and my siblings favorite, not a single title remains at my parents’ house, all of them mysteriously walking out the door after one of us had come to visit). The author and illustrator of these great books is Bill Peet, an animator at Disney for numerous years, his illustrations are engaging but it is his use of words and imagination that I love. He didn’t dumb books down for children but instead used all the fabulous words available to him to create fabulous stories, exciting adventures and heartwarming messages. I can’t wait to start sharing them with my little guy (and I may have read all of them before wrapping them, deliciously savoring each one like a long lost friend). I hope your Christmas was filled with lovely books and fabulous words.Dale Hawerchuk Jersey