Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bookish Gifts

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What, if any, memorable or special book have you ever gotten as a present? Birthday or otherwise. What made it so notable? The person who gave it? The book itself? The “gift aura?

Four immediately flew to mind. For my graduation from college, one of my housemates (still a close friend) gave me a second-hand, two volume set of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. They are a large format, hardcover 1943 edition, illustrated, with the text in two columns on the page, pictured above. Lovely books, very substantial, curl-up-by-the-fire editions. One of my other housemates gave me my Riverside complete Shakespeare, which I still treasure. The third was Sheila's gift to me of Chris van Allsberg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. I loooove this book. It is in a large, children's book format and consists of black and white drawings which are of identifiable things - people, objects, a ship, etc... - but their content is provocatively ambiguous. On the facing page is a single sentence, adding mystery rather than clarity. They are wonderful to read before going to sleep - great dream fodder - but my main use of them has been for various structured improvisation exercises with my acting students over the years. I have traveled everywhere with this book. It's dust jacket is now, well, dust, and the binding is all torn up. A well-loved favorite. Finally, one of the first presents The Ragazzo gave me was a soft-cover copy of Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Flander's Panel, which I think I had already owned but hadn't read. So now, of course, I have two copies. His early mysteries are great fun.


SmilingSally said...

I also have the Riverside Complete Edition of Shakespeare. It's way too huge to manage, so when I've wanted to read any Shakespeare, I reach for a paperback! However, it's nice as a reference. Happy Booking Through Thursday. I'm giving away a couple of books. Check my sidebar if you're interested.

Cathy said...

I had to buy the Riverside Shakespeare for one of my classes, and of course, I still own it to this day!

Anonymous said...

I started Jane Eyre which has been sitting on my shelf gathering dust since 11th grade. I'm amazed how I have got through AP English and college without reading it.

Unknown said...

I think I have that edition of Jane Eyre. The pictures look very familiar. Guess I have to re-visit that box of books in the basement.

Matt should really read it. It's terrific.

Sheila O'Malley said...

That Harris Burdick gift was the best one I have ever given!

Anonymous said...

I once told a friend about how much I loved Christopher Morley's The Haunted Bookshop. I had once owned a copy and was foolish enough to loan it to someone . . . well, you know the sad end to that story.

My friend searched through several stores that dealt in used books in order to find a good copy of it for me.

She presented it to me for Christmas in 1981. My friend died a few years later but the book -- and her inscription inside the front cover have never been far from my side since.