This I Believe

Susan - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Entered on December 7, 2008

I Believe Sharing Books is One of the Great Joys of Life

My mother and I read an authorized Gone With the Wind sequel. I had given it to my mom as a gift and borrowed it after she read it. Mom thought Rhett would never take Scarlett back. She wouldn’t if she were in his shoes. Being the eternal optimist, I always knew Scarlett would win Rhett back.

After reading Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, I loaned it to my dad. We agreed that Gus McRae was our favorite character, both admiring his bravery and his sense of humor. I continued to share McMurtry’s books with my dad, both westerns and modern stories. We were intrigued by the character who walked away from his life, literally, walking for miles to a hunting cabin. The blue heeler dog that followed him was a bright spot we shared from the story. Many of my parent’s books are now lined up on my shelves.

As Mom’s Alzheimer’s progressed, the only books she was able to read were the ones she had read before. Her unaffected long-term memory enabled her to follow the old stories when she could no longer make sense of anything new. We would discuss the old novels as we discussed our other shared memories from the past. Now both my parents have passed on and I am continuing the tradition of giving books as gifts.

Every Christmas, I select a book to give my husband and each child. I am proud when they actually read and enjoy them as they do more often than not. My husband appreciated the nonfiction account of a man who lost his sailboat in a storm and survived at sea in a raft. Nonfiction books are his favorites. My older son took to Tom Clancy. I knew he would. My daughter worked her way through every book in the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul series. My youngest son read a Steven King novel this year. Though that particular book was not a gift from me, I now have an idea for next Christmas. My husband and my children tell me about these books but I haven’t read any of them. I haven’t been able to share my thoughts with them or fully appreciate what they have said about the books.

My husband and I both read biographies, but we haven’t overlapped in our selections. My son’s Tom Clancy thrillers haven’t piqued my interest. My daughter has said the stories in her favorite series are sad. Sad stories make me cry. I don’t care for scary movies and haven’t tried to read my youngest son’s Steven King novel. Offers to loan my favorite books to my family members have not been successful.

I am going to start reading the books that my family has read. Much can be learned about a person by discussing a book with him, so I will sample some new subjects starting with Steven King. I believe sharing books, especially with loved ones, is one of the great joys of life.