As a child, it is hard to understand the rarity of a truly happy ending. Because they are everywhere for us when we are six and seven. We don’t have to look very far to find one. We are, in a way, sheltered from the cold, cruel fact that happy endings are less likely than sad ones. The thought does not compute.
When my mother gave me “The Giving Tree,” I couldn’t contain my excitement. I loved Shel Silverstein’s poetry and knew this book would be no different. I read the entirety in less than 20 minutes. And I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.
“Mom, what is this?” I asked, and she simply looked at me. ”What is this? Why would you let me read this?”
She didn’t understand. She just continued looking at me.
“That boy is TERRIBLE! The tree loved him, and he used her! He forgot all about her and then he just USED her!”
I remember she smiled a bit, but just continued to look at me with simple curiosity.
“Well?! That’s not fair!”
“Is it unfair? Or is there something beautiful in a love like that? It’s endless and unconditional. Isn’t that beautiful?” she asked me, and I just stared at her. Beautiful? How could that be beautiful? It felt nothing but lonely to me.
“That’s what happens, sweetheart. People change and they move on. Things change. Life changes. We grow up and grow old. It’s inevitable - the passing of time. But love is always there, surrounding you. And that is beautiful.”
Years later, I still get sad and feel terribly lonely whenever I read this book. But it has shaped me in a way that no other book has. It opened my eyes, it forced me to question the “happy ending” and, more specifically, change. And made me - just a little bit - begin to admit how beautiful that can be.
K was like this really hippie kind of girl that i used to hang out with, a little too tepid for my ‘wild’ attitude as a teen, so when she gave me this book to read , i was ready to pass. Although, since i thought of myself as an open minded person i began reading page after page, being drawn into its magnificent world only to find out that this book had changed my life. I had become the book and the book, had become me, if i can say so! I have lived with its dogmas since,and would recommend as one of my top reads to anyone, but the one thing i really learned from this experience, is that every single person you get to know can make a huge difference in your life, if you let them!
Spring Break. Laying low. That sort of thing. Now it’s time to revive. Send us your stories of books given and books received! Everyone wants to read them.
We grew up together; I watched you transform from a dopey kid with too long of hair into a still dopey man with short hair and confidence and a smile that could knock the air out of my lungs. You watched me, well, I took a little longer to change. I gave it to you after gym class junior year. I was sweaty and red faced and wanted the moment to be much more poetic and life changing than it was. I claimed it was my favorite book because it was dark and twisty and edgy—everything I wished I was. You were so interested in it; I like to think it was because you realized that in giving you this, I was offering you a tiny piece of my soul. I had discovered long before that moment that I would give you anything to make us more connected. I hassled you for weeks about reading it, checking to see if you’d started it and where you were now. You always gave vague, non-committal answers and eventually I stopped asking. I never got the book back though, and now four years later, I still think about it sometimes. I think you may have a much larger piece of my soul than that book. And even though you don’t know it, you can keep them both as long as you’d like.
Two years ago I was nursing a broken heart after being deceived by someone I truly cared about.
My friend gave me this book and suggested I read it because she thought I needed to hear the words in the book.
I read it in 12 hours straight the first time, and found hidden between the pages restored faith and healing. This book has made me believe in love and the power of God and quite literally changed my life.
I am currently reading this book for the 20th time, and it always manages to heal a part of me that is yearning for a gentle touch or a warm embrace…
My girlfriend, M, is as much of an avid reader as I am. However, she typically reads the newest, hottest thing when it comes to novels and whatnot. Her mother is the Assistant Librarian at the High School that M and I went to, so that kind of helped fuel her ability to know what was new and great and what was new and crappy. I, on the other had, typically stick to history books (typically military history actually, it’s kind of my passion/ hobby) and the classic novels that everyone knows about but not many people tend to take the time to read (like Murder on the Orient Express, the Tom Clancy Series, and Gone With the Wind).
However, M said that I should read both The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, and The Story of Us, by Jay Asher. She said that they both were books that had changed her outlook on life. Now, being who I am, I thought that this was just another one of those teen phrases that had become emotionally numbed over time, like “I love that…”, and that she was just being a typical teenager. Little did I know that what she had just done was suggest the books that have helped me survive this last year through the emotional roller coaster ride that is the application process and Plebe (Fourth Class Year) Year at the United States Naval Academy.
I can’t explain it, but for some reason the books that she suggested to me were unlike any other I had read before. The text didn’t just sit there; it popped-out at me and its meanings and phrases touched my very soul. What M had done was give me a newer, fresher outlook on life. She suggested the books whose quotes I have used to make it through many hardships and hard work these past two years, the ones that have come to shape my work ethic and outlook on life!
These books taught me that it doesn’t matter how many hardships come your way in life, because if you try hard enough and continue to trust in the Lord and the loved ones around you, and seek them for guidance in times of trouble, that you will be successful and feel happy in the end when it really matters.
I honestly have no idea how in the world I can ever repay M for what she has done for me. She’s definitely put me on the right track; to be quite honest, I’d say she changed me for the better (not that I was bad to begin with; these books just gave me a new-found sense of humbleness, a necessary trait to have for us military leader types!
So M, at this time I will formally thank you for the transformation that you’ve given me!
When I was a child, our school library always fascinated me. Every time I enter it, I feel excited because I knew I could read and discover new books again. My fondness for books and reading became greater when my older sister (who loves reading too) gave me my first ever hard bound book entitled “Life in Many Lands”—A Childcraft Book. I was so thrilled that I really took time to read each story written in the book so as to savor it and let it linger in my mind. And of course, I had to read it over and over again. It was this book that opened my mind into the different culture and different places around the world. It was my golden ticket to access the places I’ve never been to. So, when our house was flooded before because of the tropical typhoon, I made sure that my book was kept in a safe place where the water couldn’t reach it. My book survived the many typhoons and flood that have passed our house here in the Philippines. And I know I have to continue to safe guard it as long as I live because it has become my precious gem.
It was our last morning together, or maybe our second to last. You never read, but we’d been talking about this book, talking about you being gay, and this you had read. It was new for you, being gay and being open, but you operated always as if you’d been there before.
You went out for coffee and brought it back as a surprise: The Meaning of Matthew. I read it cover to cover on the plane two days later when I moved to San Francisco.
I would see you again, twice, accidentally both times, on trips back to New York. You looked surprised and pained, and it killed me. That last time we didn’t speak, didn’t acknowledge each other. That twisted look you pulled, unintentionally I know but that’s what it was it was twisted, that face will haunt me.
We never fell out of love, we never had a big fight. We broke up because that’s what was practical. We broke up because the distance hurt too much. We broke up and now for the first time I count myself among the truly broken.
But The Meaning of Matthew sits on my shelf and it reminds me of how much worse my pain could be. It gives me perspective, which is what you always did. So: thank you.
We met in the drive-thru at starbucks. Me, on my way to a day long shift at a used bookstore ( more of a joy than a irritation to say the least) and him on the microphone taking my order for my daily dose of high priced caffeine. When I pulled up to the window it started with the usually barista small-talks.
“How’s your day?”,
“Fine, going to work.”
“Your drink will be done shortly.”
Since the shop seemed quite busy on the inside, we started to talk about my work and he was pleased to hear that I worked at a bookstore.
“I’m a lit major.”
“Wow, me too!”
“What’s your favorite book?”
We were holding up a line behind me. We didn’t really notice.
I started to give him the same drabble about Walden, my favorite book, and he nodded on about what I had to say about Thoreau and his journey. After I finished my spiel he remarked that Emerson was better. Much more hardcore than Thoreau. I was intrigued. By both his statement and himself as a person. I took his opinion with gratitude and, finally, my drink (which had cooled since our conversation started) and reluctantly left the drive thru.
It was only a week later upon going into that starbucks did I find a copy of Nature sitting where my drink should have been. After that day I guess you could give it the cliche title of calling it history. We started to see each other, our first date being to a book sale. We became transcendentalists, adventurers together in both physical and mental means. I, the Thoreau and Him, the Emerson.
I have a favorite book - Caravan by Dorothy Gilman. I have several copies but one of these is special. It was given to me by my mom and read at the exact perfect time (and then read again and again and again). This one particular copy of Caravan comes with me when I travel - a symbol of adventure, and a reflection of the type of strength that I aspire to. It is falling apart, stained with mud from Ecuador, full of sand from Africa, dog-eared, watermarked from several oceans and loved like no other book I own. I am grateful to my mom every time I pick it up - more and more delicately as the years and miles go by.
We had been confused as both sisters and lovers, we always were so close. My friendship with you felt something like home, a safe place where I could really be myself. And you returned that.
Then time went on and you found A. A and you were magnificent and dangerous together. You encouraged each others’ obsessive thoughts of thinness and starvation. I tried to drag you back, but the more I persisted, the more you faded away.
One day I cry on the phone while you tell me about your newest diet. You get angry, say I don’t understand. I tell you to talk to me, make me understand.
You lend me Wasted. Marya Hornbacher’s writing is enticing. I read late at night and I read it quickly. It captures my mind thoroughly, creates snakes of those thoughts through my mind, and suddenly I get it. I get that even though I tried to be understanding, I wasn’t. I get that I cannot logically argue you back to health. I change my methods, I let you talk about the darkness under all that obsession. You tell me things then, you let me know what’s going on.
Over time, you get better.
I always value this book as the thing that connected us back together when you were so hard to reach. I value this book much more importantly as the way I came to understanding how I may be able to help. Not that it was only my help that allowed you to get better. You had done so much to be on that road. But knowing I wasn’t being useful to you before was impossibly difficult for me. To think that I couldn’t connect with you was incomprehensible. It’s a beautiful book, written with incredible depth to emotions as well as a scholar’s understanding of the way disorders develop. I cannot thank Marya enough.
Yes! The bookplate is a jpg file that you can print on adhesive paper. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you the file.
Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women. It was ironic that she gave me this book.. She was beautiful, wild, and uncontrollable. I recognized this when I first started dating her, and never dared to attempt to set rules or boundaries for her. I was thankful for the book, but never quite found the time to read it. As it sat on my bookshelf collecting dust our relationship progressed; it became firey, tumultuous, passionate… until at a certain point the fire raged beyond either of our control. She broke my heart, the details of which I feel would be unfair to divulge… but leaving me with such a book seemed fitting. I finally found the time to read it, in the long hours of bitter regret, depression, and insomnia that she left me alone to face. Through eyes brimming with tears I absorbed every page, hurting and healing as I read, seeing pieces of my lost love in every paragraph. I doubt the book would have meant half as much had it come from anyone else, or if it had been given to me at a different time. We don’t talk now. But I still re-read that book.
We post stories of books given by all loved ones… lovers’ stories may have more zing, but they tend to be bitter (as reviewers have noted!) We love variety.
You can share your stories using our submission form here, or by emailing them to us at email@example.com. Click the “contribute” link above for more details.
Hello- all the US books have gone out. I’ll be mailing the international ones next week. If your story was featured in the book and you do not live in the US, please confirm your name and mailing address with me so I can be sure I’m sending to the right place!
In high school, when everyone else planned for college and attended parties (got wasted), I worked. I worked so that I could take some of the burden off my on-and-off again employed father. I woke up at six to go to school and I’d be back home by eight-thirty, with scarcely enough time each night to eat, do homework, and sleep. I planned on going full-time at my job, because dreams, as far as I was concerned, were for those with means.
And then I took a creative writing class. I’d always loved writing, but considered it a hobby which hadn’t evolved passed scribbling silly stories in notebooks and, on a rare occasion, slamming the keys of my family’s old word processor. The teacher for that class was a man named Mort Castle. I knew as I entered that first day this man was anything but ordinary. He didn’t present a syllabus or have us do the stupid icebreaker games that every other class did. He stood up at the front, with a smile and a gleam in his wizened eyes, and when he started talking about writing- about how much he loved it and why we do it and why it was so important- I felt something swell in my chest. We got our first assignment that night.
I ran home, pulled out an old notebook, and wrote- and I kept writing as I walked to work despite the horns blaring, and I kept writing at work despite the customers complaining, and I wrote until midnight when, pen in hand, I passed out. In that night I went through three drafts of a short story, two pages long when typed. It was nothing really. But it was everything.
I was the first to class, the first with my hand in the air to present. I read it with voice trembling, stopping and starting, trying to choke back the acid climbing up my throat. I looked up when I was done and saw, to my dismay, blank stares. Then Castle patted me on the back and asked the class what they thought. One by one hands shot up, each person wanting to tell me a different part about the story they liked, and, because I’m that kind of guy, I teared up.
Castle took me aside afterward- he hadn’t commented. Of course I was already cocky, my first piece and they all loved it. Soon I’d be making millions somehow.
“Patrick, that was good, but I want you to rewrite in first person.”
My brain skipped a beat.
Rewrite, my god, was it so bad?
He handed me a book, told me to read it, and said when I was done I ought to revisit the story. It was an old book, a thin paperback with amber pages, the blue-and-white cover unremarkable, saying nothing about the book inside, save that the title was Slaughter-House Five and the author’s name was Kurt Vonnegut. I nursed my pride at lunch, and during Spanish I opened the fragile thing and read the first page. Which led to the second. Which led to people honking and customers complaining and me getting very little sleep as I read the book in one night.
I’d read many books before, but none so voraciously. Castle planted the seed of a dream and now books were more than an escape- their ink and paper, their words and ideas, has become the ground from which my dream may grow.
I met a man by complete and utter fluke at a ukulele bar (neither of us play). We decided upon a short fling (we were both moving away for work in December). It was a great decision - we had the most amazing two months of adventures and laughter and joy (that neither of us expected). On our last night together, we cracked some champagne to toast to our odd pseudo-relationship and he gave me a book. I Am Legend. It belonged to his dad and is faded and yellowed and well-read by both of them. These few months (which were supposed to be inconsequential) have surpassed anything I could have expected. I am so lucky. (Goodbye, my dear).
Growing up, my brother and I were never close. He was always the baby, both of the family and of his classmates, and we had little in common. Even now, after we have started developing a relationship of sorts, we still have a hard time getting each other. So, when my brother announced that he already knew what he was going to get me for Christmas this year, I shrugged off the comment, assuming that I would be getting another iTunes gift card, the gift he had been giving me for the past couple of years.
Christmas morning arrived, and I was surprised to find a large, lumpy package with my name scrawled across it in his handwriting. When I opened it, I found three Tintin books— books that he had always loved, and I had, until recently, rarely thought about. Despite never having read any of the brave reporter’s adventures, he and his sidekick held the key to certain fond memories, and as my brother explained why he chose the specific books he gave me, I realised that he understood their significance in my life. I reached over to give him a hug, and, instead of squirming away like he usually does, he let me.
I can’t answer this question. Each one is precious, because I respect the feelings behind it. Collectively, all the stories, the ones in the book and the ones on the blog, form a bigger picture about who we are, who humans are. The things we love, the people we love. The irritations, the joys.
One of my favorite tumblrs is Underground New York Public Library, because one of the first things I noticed when I moved here was that people here read. I remember, in Chicago, I once saw a woman on the Rock Island line to Joliet reading a Martin Amis novel and was nearly knocked speechless because she was reading anything smarter than a copy of Us Weekly. That just didn’t happen there. I had friends who openly laughed in my face upon seeing a copy of Anna Karenina on my coffee table. They laughed at me. it was like high school all over again.
But upon arriving here, I immediately noticed guys on late-night trains, clearly getting off closing shifts as prep-cooks or busboys who were reading Proust on the train. Proust, folks. Or Kafka. The level of public discourse is higher here; you can hear people with frankly common accents offering really insightful, well-thought-out opinions on current events every night on NY1 at 7 pm on the call-in show. For whatever reasons, that simply is not done where I lived before. Smart somehow isn’t polite in the suburbs from which I came. Here, it’s a point of pride.
What all this has taught me is that we all have more potential than we think. Ambitions, lives are sparked by simple things. We find the right book, whether someone gives it to us or we find it on our own, and our imaginations sieze the chance and run wild. Our souls are free. Ideas let that happen.
Sharing books helps this to happen. We live our lives half in public, half in private. Others see us reading, and we share books with others. There is more than one way to give a book, and to privilege any of these ways of sharing over another would be wrong. I’m truly honored to collect these stories, and my only ambition in this project is to inspire others to share more freely. Read. Be seen reading. Push beloved books on others. That is all.
Another new town. We had been moving since we got married, and on our 5th house or so, with two little ones in tow. But this was to be the final move, and I was excited. But lonely. So the school yard where my five year old was starting school was to be the venue where I would have to try and branch out and actually meet people, as much for my children’s sake as my own.
Meeting a mum of my little boy’s friend, we chit chatted every morning, and found we both had a love of literature and she often shared books. I don’t own many books myself, so when she offered to let me borrow a book she had really enjoyed, I jumped at the chance. You see, I did my MA in Literature, I studied English to Degree level. It sort of killed my love of reading. So I find it hard now to select a story, suspicious and judging every title. I tend to stick to biographies now because they are real life. No work of fiction really made me ‘feel’ anymore.
And so, I was handed Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours and I fell hard. I wrapped myself up that book and didn’t come out until I was done. Did people actually write like this? After all, I had wanted to write, but how could I replicate anything close to this? How could anyone? Her talent just jumped off the page for me… I was enthralled, impressed, in love with literature again.
I read it over a weekend and Monday morning I returned the book, smile wide over my face, thanking this mum. Because it reminded me of something - of the purpose of literature and fiction, something I had stopped believing in. Stories unite us. they bring us in from the cold, they give us a conversation. They teach us that what we live day to day doesn’t have to be all that we experience. That standing in the rain, waiting for our kids, we have somewhere exciting, deep and rich to be later that’s just for us, a moment for ourselves once we are done being available to everyone else.
And I thanked her for reminding me of that.
My mother and I have never been close. Growing up I was extremely introverted and her short temper caused her to push me harder and harder to be the daughter she wished I was. I spent most of my time reading, cut off from everything else in my life. The more I did, the more angry she became, and the more angry she became, the more I shut myself off. It was a vicious cycle that lasted until I ran away from her. Once a year though I think she would take the time to examine our relationship. When I got older every year from Christmas she would buy me one book. While the gesture seemed like a peace offering and an attempt at understanding me, to me it only affirmed how little we knew one another. I never read any of the books she gave me. They were also books below my reading level, a random volume from a series I had never heard of or just a symbol of something she wished I could be.
After I moved out she attempted it again. I opened Wicked Christmas morning sitting around the tree with my younger brother. I felt like crying, but I couldn’t decide if it was from relief or disappointment. For the first time ever she managed to offer a little piece of me, and not what she thought I was. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I already owned the book, or that I preferred the alternate cover. I faked surprise and excitement at the gift and told her I was looking forward to reading it, but inside I knew we were too late in understanding one another. She never gave me another book after that.
The perfect gift for everyone you know who loves books. Share this collection of nearly 200 stories of books given by lovers and loved ones for the most meta gift ever.
Inbox The Books They Gave Me with your email address for a special bookplate you can use to personalize the books you give this year!
She’s given me so many books that I can’t even begin to count them. She gave me my first book, and a multitude of books after that.
She read them to me, and when I was old enough to read them by myself, she helped me read the words I did not know.
But there was one book my mom gave me that changed my life. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling.
She brought it home from the bookstore for me when I was eight years old. I’m sure she expected it to be just like all the other books I read back then. I would read it over the course of a few days or weeks, and it would go on my bookshelf, nice and neat and tidy, but I probably wouldn’t talk about it again.
My mom didn’t know it would become as much a part of me as the blood in my veins.
I read the book in days, and it was all I could talk about. I took it to the dinner table with me. I splashed spaghetti sauce on the pages, because I couldn’t put it down long enough to finish my dinner. My mom, being the smart woman she is, went back to the bookstore a few days later to get the next one in the series.
I devoured it just as quickly. She brought home the third, and I flew through it.
I had to wait awhile for the fourth to be released, so what did I do with my time?
I re-read the three I had. I couldn’t put them down; they almost never spent more than a few weeks on my shelf at a time. The story was so much more than just a story, and soon it became part of my life. It shaped who I am. It taught me about life and prepared me for what was to come.
My mom brought home a book for me, but she gave me something to love.
She’s given me so many books since then. And others have given me books too. I’m a reader, and books are my perfect gift. But no one…no one…has given me a book like that since I was 8 years old.
And I don’t think anyone ever will.
My father and I had a complicated relationship when I was little (although I guess that can be said of all fathers & sons). He was an outdoorsman, a carpenter and craftsman and engineer, while I was always wrapped up in worlds of my own imagination - music, books, games, etc. It’s not to say that we didn’t like the same things - he loved words and I always enjoyed being outside - but I think he had trouble understanding how it was that I’d rather sit and read a book than create something or go for a hike.
One time, on a family trip, I had finished all of the books I’d brought with me and desperately wanted some new Star Wars book. He told me that he’d buy it for me so long as I also read a book of his choosing. Fearing the worst, I begrudgingly accepted this bribe and he revealed the Star Wars book (already purchased) and John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps. I was on a train when he gave it to me and I devoured it, although I don’t think I understood much of it. Mostly, I just wanted to get to the Star Wars book. But that moment of train-bound adventure stuck with me, faintly but firmly.
Years later, I was living in London and, on a whim, purchased a dashing new reprint of the book. I remembered nothing about it and read it in one sitting in Hyde Park. The next time I came home, I left it wrapped in brown paper in his office with a little note just said “thank you”. He found me later (reading in the living room) and asked me what it was for. I told him this story and watched as the memory came back to him - and saw other memories, memories of his own childhood, come back too.
That night, we watched the Hitchcock film and when we visited London together for my sister’s graduation years later, I took him to see the play. We both have our respective copies of the book on our desks - reminders that he and I aren’t so different after all.
We were new friends, and I was newly single. He invited me to go see Zardoz at BAM, and I thought it was a date until he got a phone call from a friend while we were buying snacks at the bodega, “Not much, you?… Yeah, we’re going to see Zardoz…. Sure, see you at the theater.” But before we went to meet up with our third wheel, he gave me a paperback copy of Homo Faber by Max Frisch, and I tucked it into my too-small handbag. A pack of teenagers ran past us on the street, and one of them boldly grabbed the book from my bag as he ran by. My companion started to chase him, but then stopped, not certain what he should do if he caught the kid. We hoped the book would actually be read, but expect that the sight of the word “homo” in the title would be enough to warrant immediate discard. We dated for a year, broke up for 6 months, a period during which I gave him Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow for his birthday, and then got back together to get married.
Just a quick note letting you know that all contributor copies of the book have been shipped to US addresses! The international ones will take a little longer, I’m sorry!
Great question! It would be great to do a second edition—perhaps in a couple of years? We can speed the process by giving “The Books They Gave Me” to all our friends and family for the holidays this year. And their birthdays. And graduations. Or for no reason at all!
A mere six stops from Midtown on the N or Q! Please come out and join us!
Tuesday, November 27th, 7:00pm
Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden - 29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria, NY
Remember the time you thought you’d found “The One” only to be left questioning everything after he gave you a copy of The Fountainhead?
Or when your dad/best friend/roommate gave you a book that opened up a new world to you?
In The Books They Gave Me, Jen Adams has collected 200 stories about books received from loved ones.
Join us at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden for a conversation with Jen and learn the art of giving books this holiday season.
I got this book from my English teacher. He didn’t really give it to me, but he just let me borrow it because I pestered him for it. He then lent it to me and told me that as soon as I finished reading it I was to return it to him because it had sentimental value.
During the time he lent me the book, I had just come out of an unclean break-up and I didn’t know what I was in for when I got the book from him. I was excited to read it since there were people on the Internet raving about it, and because I grew up listening to the Beatles.
The first few chapters of the book were rather sweet and simple, as the main character talked about his life and friends Kizuki, who died at seventeen and his girlfriend Naoko. But a few years after Kizuki’s death, Naoko disappears without a trace.
During her absence, the main character Toru meets Midori, a bubbly and outspoken girl, the total opposite of Naoko.
Finally, after a few months of waiting from Toru, Naoko finally writes to him a very long letter that has consumed one entire chapter. Whatever Naoko had written in the letter had pinpointed exactly what I had been feeling the entire time since the break-up. It stirred something in me.
There were times that I wanted to give up on the book because it had gotten to me. It forced me to think deeply on abstract things like love and friendship. And in that point of time I didn’t want to think at all. I just wanted to let go and clear my mind. And there were times where I regretted reading the book because I felt like the book hurt me and I didn’t want to open it anymore.
So I approached my teacher with the intent of returning the book, continuing the book was too painful for me. I told him that I felt rather overwhelmed with everything the book has said, it pulled on my heartstrings and the detailed description of sex disturbed me, and made my mind go into overdrive. He told me that he felt the same way when he read the book, and he encouraged me to keep the book until I finished it, to keep reading it because it was very beautiful.
I kept the book for his sake, but I didn’t want to read it anymore. But the way in which Murakami wrote the book, the beauty of the story, the wholesomeness of its characters lured me back in, to open the book and give it another chance.
And now I’m almost there, I’m near the end of the book. During the time I was reading this book, I realised that I am lot like Naoko. I wasn’t only pained by heartache; there were much deeper problems within me. And so I have decided, once I finish reading this book, I should talk to our school’s counsellor. Like Naoko, I can no longer keep on ignoring these problems and get help right away, or there will be much more fatal consequences to this.
Thanks to this book, I keep the faith that I will be “healed”, and I thank my teacher for lending me this book and encouraging me to keep on reading it. It helped me face the truth. Thank you, Mr. M.
When I was a sophomore in college my RA and friend gave me Blue Like Jazz to borrow. At the time I was in a really dark place in my life, feeling worthless, alone, just generally uncared for. He let me borrow the book and it quickly became one of my favorite books I had ever read. It’s a very strange sort of book, filled with memoirs and musings on being a Christian in a setting that was very much unchristian. The author tells about his time in college at a school where Christians were almost non-existent, and where those who were Christians were avoided like the plague. It gave me a very different perspective on my life at the time and the way it mixed comedy with some of the more depressing aspects of college life (being alone, far from home, not knowing anyone) that I could identify with.
A few years later after he had forgotten that he lent it to me I asked if he wanted it back when I saw him after my graduation ceremony and he told me to keep it, to consider it a graduation present. Then last year I loaned the book out to a friend who had never read it and I haven’t seen it since. I was a bit heartbroken that one of my favorite books had been lost, but then I thought maybe, in the same way that I received the book, the original owner might like it better this way, I like to think it might continue to be given to others to help them in the same way it helped me.
Join us and get schooled, tumblr-style.
Join me tomorrow night for a reading as part of Mediabistro’s New York Book Club!
I met Zoe maybe the last month before high school ended. She is one of those people you meet and you can just tell everything to; like a journal for adventures, but instead she could respond. We talked about music a lot, as probably many teenagers do or did, I can’t say for sure anymore. I had been reading Kerouac, and I think she asked me one day about him. I enjoyed him, but Kerouac just isn’t for everyone, or at least wasn’t for her, I felt. In lieu of Kerouac, I promised her another grand book. But as time flew, as it does in the throes of love, I was leaving for Australia the next day, and failing to fulfill my promise to her. But Zoe has yet to miss a chance to enlighten me to a good book, and so as a going away gift, she gave me, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. There was one part that I remember:
(Leo and Alma as children)
One day Alma came confronted Leo about him watching her all the time. Leo thought to himself that he would leave for Australia before telling Alma why he watched her. And once she confronted him, he about to say goodbye forever, but instead he asked her to marry him.
I told Zoe about this part. I couldn’t see what she did, but I imagine her flipping through her copy of the book to find the story I told her about. I’ll always think of that book and story when we are apart.
And well, I already ran off to Australia once, but maybe I can still ask her to marry me one day.
If you received an email from TBTGM letting you know that your story is included in the book and you have not sent in your address, please send it as soon as possible. We will be mailing contributor copies in about a week. If you are waiting for your contributor copy, it should be there soon!
Fun interview! Today I’m talking about the blog and book with DJ Margaret on BreakThru Radio: http://www.breakthruradio.com/#/post/?blog=107&post=106.