December 1, 2009

All I Want For Christmas...

There are scores of reasons to love December. There are parties and mittens and slippers with bells. There are nine million semi-legitimate excuses to indulge in chocolate desserts. It's a time of enjoyment, of merriment- of giving.

And then, there's the receiving. December is the only time of year that I get given BOOKS.

Let's face it- I've cursed myself. My obsession with books, which borders on reverence, is so well known by friends and family that they are terrified to give me any. They argue that A) my tastes are so 'refined' that they think I won't like what they pick out, and B) that chances are if it's good, I'll already have read it.

To which I say: what rubbish.

First, I like to think that my tastes are rather varied. Literary classics and Sookie Stackhouse ain't the only things I read. Give me speculative, historical, literary, mystery, doesn't matter: if you loved it, then I'm excited to try it. And as for fearing I've already read it? I have two words for you. Shelfari and Amazon. My wish lists will show you which books I'm drooling over. Consider it a cheat sheet that you're allowed- nay, encouraged- to use.

Lists aside... I probably haven't read it. Because there is SO MUCH out there. If I had a thousand lifetimes, I couldn't get to all the 'good stuff' on those bookstore shelves. I wish they'd hurry up and figure out regeneration so I could have a few more years just to read more of what's out there. There I books I stumble upon that I am amazed I didn't know about before. Again, if you loved it enough to want to share it, then chances are you're giving me a really thoughtful gift.

In fact, Dad and I reconnected through the giving of books. Every year, Dad would research new releases, scanning BookWorld clippings and online reviews for reads he thought I would like. I'd drive through the deserted Christmas morning streets knowing the treasures that awaited me under the tree. Dad would pile them on my lap, each one beautifully wrapped and waiting. As each one was unveiled, he'd tell me why he picked it out as I caressed their covers and read their jackets. In this way, he gave me some of the great books of my life. That's not to say I loved them all, but I loved the ritual through which they were chosen. Each book formed a small connection, a brick in the ever-growing foundation of him plus me.

That's what I really crave for Christmas: to pick up that hefty rectangular present that bends just slightly between your hands. Knowing that the thing waiting beneath the shiny paper could give me pleasure, make me think, ignite my passion, maybe even change my life.

Bring on the giving season!

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