As an author, I’m guiltily thankful for the readers who consume books the way movie-goers consume popcorn. From a sales and marketing perspective, authors and publishers like seeing giant sacks of books going out the door of the neighborhood bookstores.
My perspective is quite different at Christmastime when I am selecting gifts for family and friends. I want to give gifts that matter. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, my most pleasurable and meaningful reading experiences come from books that impact me in a profound way.
Such books are not like popcorn or even a shopping cart of the latest in glittering electronic gadgets and toys people lined up to buy on Black Friday. Most of those Black Friday gifts will be forgotten by year’s end. When I know a person well enough to give him or her a book I greatly treasured, then my hope is that they will treasure it and remember it many years into the future–just as one remembers the best dinners they ever had at their favorite five-star restaurant.
Some of the joy of giving books has been lost because the economics of the business has forced us into a world of paperbacks and e-books that are mere ghosts of what books used to be. Books once were more than the words they contained. They were visual and tactile experiences from the selection of the type fonts to the choice of paper to the binding.
That said, when I begin Christmas shopping, my favorite books of the past year are my inspiration for many of the gifts I give. A shared book is, in a sense, a very personal moment, somewhat like a deep conversation next to a warm fireplace fire on a cold winter’s night. We come to know and understand those we love, in part, through the discoveries of the books we have in common.
This year, I will think of Smoky Trudeau’s Observations of an Earth Mage and Vanilla Heart Publishing’s Nature’s Gifts anthology of stories, poems and essays for those who love the out of doors whether they be casual travelers of avid back country hikers.
For those who ponder spirituality and the psychological and transcendent experiences of life’s journey, I’ll be wrapping up copies of Patricia Damery’s Farming Soul: A Tale of Initiation.
(See my review.)
Those who enjoy good storytelling with a touch of backwoods wisdom and magical realism, might well find a copy of River Jordan’s The Miracle of Mercy Land. (See my review.) Others will unwrap Melinda Clayton’s powerful Appalachian Justice.
I want to share my favorite books of the year at Christmas because they are important to me, and I can think of no better gifts to give.