To Have And Have Not: Book Gifts Examined

Guest post by Carrie Anne Ebner, May 30, 2011

What makes you choose the novels you read?  Do you go into a book store, or online, and greedily snatch up one more, just a little past your arbitrarily allotted budget, and then weigh the diplomacy of leaving one of them for another buyer while you suspiciously eyeball the assumed bibliophiles around you?  Are there books you loaned, and never got back, that beckon you to  repurchase after it’s been years since you’ve read them?  Do you have lists of books…on note cards, receipts, final drafts about to be turned in to the professor…which were recommended to you from various respectable sources, littering the inside of your car, wedged between books you’ve already read, filed in one of your drawers you never intend to organize until you can’t close it anymore? Why this constant obsession with literature anyway?  And why do you read the books you call…yours?

I woke up at 4:30 this morning with the winter wrens and spring light, and clever thoughts about how I’d give something priceless to my brother for his birthday.  It was actually May 19th, and today is the 30th, but he’s coming to town from Ohio, and I can’t wait to see him.  Before his birthday he told me explicitly that he already had four books he was reading, so this meant I couldn’t default to the old standby of sending him a book in the mail.  Of course, this made me panic a little, since I have plenty of books I’d like to give him, but, there are other gifts, and ideas which come to me at the wee hours which prove my constant ingenuity, and can solve that problem of celebrating his birthday late.  Anyway, he lives across the street from a bookstore…he could hit his sand wedge and knock a window in.  Why would I presume he needs me to find him his books?

And what is it to receive a book from another, or a recommendation?  Someone has just told you that this is the best book I have ever read in my life. And it turns out to be The Celestine Prophesy, and you thank them and tell them you’ve already read it, but you’ll give it another go once you’ve climbed through the stack on your night table.  I caution myself now when I make a recommendation, and I’m very choosy when it comes to the gift of book…even if this is all I want to give all of the time, given I had endless funds.  Why wouldn’t someone want a world of their own, one where the plot lasts longer than a film, but shorter than a lifetime? The best book I’ve ever read is a particle in motion, acted upon by outside forces, so what spoke to me then, might not speak to me now.  And I’m sure there have been several I’ve given away with certainty that they would move another to velocities unmoved…yet remained unread.  Or un-re-read.

This world is full of traffic signals, and provider bills, and rubrics, and things we don’t call vacations.  Some nights I can’t read a book because of worry or excitement for the following day.  Sometimes the book I’m reading is hard work, and really requires I’m there with it and all of the characters, and the author’s reliance on my undivided attention.  And some days I toss all cautionary woes to the wind and allow myself the time I need to be with my book…which ever one it is, created specifically for this purpose of my calling it my own.



Filed under autobibliography, book collecting, books, gift books, guest post, reading

5 responses to “To Have And Have Not: Book Gifts Examined

  1. Pingback: To Have And Have Not: Book Gifts Examined | Shelf Analysis | How to Make Money with google

  2. I have always loved books. My fondest memories of being little and with my parents is being read to. I would get tucked into bed with my millions of teddy bears and my mom or my dad would read from Terry Jones Fairy Tales. Each parent had their stories that they read to me from the book. I’m not sure if that was planned, or if it was just because the other parent “read them wrong”, but my dad always read “The Corn Dolly” and “Tim O’Leary”. My mom always read “The Cake-Horse”, “The Fly-By-Night”, and “The Witch and the Rainbow cat”. Yes, some of these stories scared me to death, but my little three-year-old mind still wanted to listen to them over and over again.
    When I got to be a little older, my parents read The Hobbit, Watership Down, and many fairy tales. I loved the sound of their voice and the worlds that these stories took me to. It was like my childhood was one long technicolor water painting that danced to the tune of “Stairway to Heaven”. However, it didn’t remain a fairy tale.
    My parents taught me how to count, my alphabet, and how to read a few words, but that was all. My mom was shocked to find that most children just starting school could already read basic sentences. She began to work hard with me to catch up. It paid off, but something still wasn’t right with my performance in school. I read and worked very slowly. Some of it was that I would enjoy a task and saw no reason to rush, but some of it was skill. I was struggling with reading and the kids were starting to make fun of me. I remember being yelled at by my teacher and having she call me slow and dumb. I also remember my mom yelling at my teacher, but didn’t mind because I didn’t feel safe with my teacher anyhow. My teacher, Miss Fair, was inaccurately named.
    I was recommended for “skills” testing (learning disability testing) which would have placed me in the resource room. All the kids called this the retard room because the only students that wen there were Janet (she drooled and wore a helmet) and Jason (he talked funny and couldn’t physically tie his own shoes). I liked these students, but I didn’t want to be there with them. Everyone already thought I was dumb, I didn’t want it to get worse. I begged my mom and dad not to make me go. So, the compromise was that the resource room was at home and that I needed to work hard. Once I got home every day, I got a snack, and then it was homework time until I was too tired to keep my eyes open.
    In third grade I was re-recommend for testing, but once again, my parents supported me, and we worked harder at home. I had made progress but not enough. I wanted nothing more then to read for my own, but at some point I did wonder if I would ever get there. It was at some point in fourth grade that this changed. For the first time in my life, I was reading at grade level. Math was still a struggle for me, but I have made a huge leap forward.
    When I got into middle school I began to excel. I was reading more advanced books than most of my classmates, although I still read slowly. When I got into high school my sophomore history teacher Mr. Deming approached me, puzzled as to why I was not in Honors English. He recommended me for Honors as a junior, and it is a gift I treasure. My junior I grew confident in my reading and writing skills. It was not about how fast you learned something, it was about wanting to learn.
    I have overcome so much, but this year I have faced that my journey is not yet over. As an English and Philosophy major I have gone back to school to become a teacher, and old demons have come back to haunt me. As I struggled to keep up in the Master’s program I began re-putting the pieces of my education together. The more I learned about learning disabilities in class, the more I saw my past reflected in the case studies of students that “just aren’t understood by normal people”.
    I am 26 years old. I’ve gone to college twice, and will be receiving a master’s degree with a 3.95 GPA. My poetry have been published in several publications. I am clever and creative. I solve problems well. And, I have a learning disability. I do not process things at the same rate as other people with the same I.Q. as me. I still hate reading out loud. I have to work a little harder, a little slower, but I’m successful, and that is the number one reason that I am becoming a teacher, to show my students with learning disabilities that they can do it too.

  3. This is beautifully said and inspiring. Many thanks for sharing this journey. I know that your students will benefit from your experiences and from the confidence you can help them develop. W-OZ

  4. Jessica Kelleher

    My year in the MAT program:
    Well, I currently am still involved in the MAT program since the EE masters and MAT program are concurrent for me. Although I’ve learned to write lesson plans and have an idea about what it means to “scaffold” learning, and other education terms and definitions I don’t really remember right now, basically I’ve learned that teaching is a learning process in itself and experience and passion are key ingredients. I feel more and more that recognizing my philosophy and honing my passion for teaching will translate into students capable of doing the same. I hope that I can give students the ability to think for themselves and find purpose and direction in their learning. I’ve realized that I really want students to not think of school as being confined to 4 walls, I want to diversify their learning so much that it creates anticipation for next days and weeks instead of anxiety.
    From this past year I have learned that planning helps, but flexibility is necessary in order for learning to take place. Having a rigid outline or getting uptight over the unexpected will undoubtedly frustrate me and my students. Life is not perfect and adjustments are allowed. Basically the scientific method teaches one to interpret the results of the outcome and modify the mistakes for the next time. In fact, nature is messy and chaotic but somehow becomes functional and so articulate from those mistakes that everything eventually just falls into place. I’m not exactly sure if that is what the director of the MAT program is exactly looking for after a year of rigorous curriculum to prepare us to teach middle/high school students, but I am completely satisfied with my level of knowledge and confidence to begin my student teaching in the fall, although intimidating, is a challenge, I feel, necessary for me to undertake.

  5. Thanks for your wisdom–teaching is indeed a learning process, and it’s one that never ends (and flexibility is always necessary). Your passion and interest and commitment are sure to affect (and infect) your students with the joys of learning in and out of the classroom. • W-OZ

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