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“This story, like so many stories, begins with a gift. That gift, like so many gifts, was a book…”
The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane is a short, simple and yet a beautiful essay about the significance of giving / receiving books as gifts and the bond that forms between the receiver and the giver.
Macfarlane talks about receiving Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time of Gifts, as a gift from his friend and colleague Don, from Beijing, and how it changed his life. It’s merely 34 page, 10 minute read and I only mention this because it’s so impactful and such a nice reminder of what books mean to us and how they can change the way you see things and feel things.😊
Reading this book felt like having a heart to heart conversation with the author about his love for books, both giving and receiving, and travelling and how they keep him going. I’ve already read it twice and I’m making all my friends read this one, one way or the other!
Here’s another quote of wisdom from this little book - "The outcome of a gift is uncertain at the time of giving, but the fact that it has been given charges it with great potential to act upon the recipient for the good."
Highly recommend this one and definitely looking for a copy of A Time of Gifts as well!
I'm not overly sure what originally caught my attention with this short essay. But I'm glad it did because while it is only small, it's certainly worth the five minutes it will take to get through this little gem. December, the festive month of giving, is actually the perfect time to read this too! It's a piece on generosity, and how the gift of education can often enrich or change people's lives! I loved the charming, provocative tone that Macfarlane uses in his writing, and it was full to the brim of little, almost bittersweet, anecdotes and musings which appealed to me. This is certainly a very quotable book, and makes me want to delve into something of his that's a bit longer, as well as try out his various book recommendations throughout this writing!
'Sometimes the only thing a book gives its reader is a paper cut.'
“When I first read ‘A time of gifts’ I felt it in my feet. It rang with what in German is called Sensucht: a yearning or wistful longing for the unknown and the mysterious. It made me want to stand up and march out – to walk into adventure.”
Robert Macfarlane was so impressed and affected by a book he was given titled “a time of gifts’ that he has written this mini essay to promote the value in the giving of gifts especially the gift of books.
Writing about the impact that book giving has had on others and in turn the impact he has had on those he has given books to he also makes several recommendations of books mostly appealing to nature or travel lovers.
Advocating book giving to book lovers surely needs little persuasion and I felt this is where the essay was a little disappointing. I thought it a little self-indulgent focusing mostly on the authors experiences and success rather any thoughts on the more difficult task of how to give and what to give to reluctant readers.
Book lovers will read this mini essay and agree with many of the sentiments but I felt an opportunity missed as with a bit more thought this could have been an inspiring motivational piece to give to books shirkers who encouraged to seek out a book may well find the very book book that answers that elusive question why should i read........
An essay or a short-story can thrill, move, inform and entertain often with greater succinctness than 300 pages. In the past week I have reread Jean Giono's wonderful parable The Man Who Planted Trees and discovered Robert MacFarlane's gently moving The Gifts of Reading. It highlights the joy for most book lovers of sharing favourites and discoveries and I have immediately ordered more copies that over the coming weeks will find their way to friends and family, even as far away as Japan. Amazon also deserve credit and thanks for offering free delivery for a limited period which I very much hope they will continue
What can you find that lifts people into reading for pleasure and delight? I suggest this is a starting point - and the other titles by this author will continue to weave their magic and open windows into another landscape.