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.
We at the Astoria Bookshop love books — we love suggesting books, and we love hearing from you about your favorites. The Books They Gave Me by (Astoria resident) Jen Adams is a collection of stories about books given and received — a love letter to books from the people who share them. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we’re giving away a signed copy.
To enter: head over to our Facebook page. Once you like us, you’ll be able to fill out the entry form for the contest. One winner, chosen at random, will be contacted via email, and we’ll mail you the book. You must be 18 or older, and a US resident. Entries must be received by midnight on Valentine’s Day.
Feel free to share the contest with your friends (they just have to like us to be eligible). And if you tweet about it with the hashtag #AstoriaLovesBooks, we’ll give you a bonus entry.
I’m so excited for the opening of this awesome indie bookstore in my very own neighborhood! Like them on Facebook and retweet to win a copy of TBTGM!
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.