The Books They Gave Me

In which we reflect on books given us by loved ones.


He, lovelorn literary loser, just like me—but better at even that than I was, for I was a mere apprentice—gave me a hardcover edition of the complete poems of William Blake. 

I’d brought him to the legendary Hyde Park, Chicago Powell’s, and the Blake edition was on my shopping list. I was back in school at 34, newly divorced, to finish the BA in English Literature I should have taken the first time around.

Starry-eyed, in love with the man and the poems, I found the book, but sadly noted its $70 price tag. I slid it back onto the shelf and pulled down another copy, a shop-worn softcover that was only $15. He took it from me, put it back, and took down the pristine hardcover, clasping it to his chest like the treasure it is.

"Will you let me buy it for you?" he asked, his eyes shining. I did. 

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