Noted with more than a bit of envy on my part, is the announcement that The Guardian is fast approaching one million Twitter followers. (Just click here to join the fun.)
In celebration of reaching a huge milestone like that one, the newspaper is hosting a series of book conversations on Twitter. The latest (perhaps, the first) of them asks simply, "What is the best book you've ever been given as a present?" Well, I thought about that one for a while, then a while longer, and then for another few minutes. And I came up empty.
See, the thing is that I don't remember ever getting a book as a gift for Christmas or on my birthday. That's never, as in not even once. Oh, sure, I get the occasional Barnes & Noble gift card on those occasions, but never an actual book.
I did not grow up in a book-loving family. My mother was a magazine reader, my dad (who will be 93 in late April) is still an avid consumer of the daily newspaper, and my brother always seemed to have better things to do with his time than to sit down someplace with a book. Ours was a relatively poor family, and that included all of the branches of the extended family I was closest to and most familiar with as a kid. Books were a luxury best acquired from a library by those of us inclined to read them. (Actually, "those of us inclined" to do that was pretty much just me.)
Unless you count comic books, I don't remember seeing books in the homes of any of my cousins...and I have lots of cousins. So when I started collecting brand new paperbacks at the whopping price of thirty-five or fifty cents a copy, no one seemed to notice. And if they did notice, they were not impressed - or even curious enough to ask what I was up to. Looking back, I can imagine how weird I must have seemed to the rest of the pack.
And now that I'm an adult, my family and friends seem to believe that I read books at such a pace that picking out an individual book as a gift is a no-win challenge. They figure, I suppose, that the odds are stacked against them when it comes to surprising me or, for that matter, even putting something in my hands that has even a remote chance of finding a permanent home on my already overstuffed bookshelves.
I get it...but having been a committed consumer of the written word for as long as I can remember, I wish I could pull up the memory of a favorite book gift. That, after all, seems like one of the rites of passage of growing up a book nerd. Sigh...