A Greater Gift

Today’s Booking Through Thursday prompt is about presents:

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?”

For a second I thought extremely hard, and tried to remember one memorable book that I had received as a present. Then I remembered that when I was younger, I never had to wait until my birthday – or any special occasion, in fact – for books.

From an early age, my parents encouraged my sister and I to read, and every time my dad went overseas for business trips he would haul back [literal] piles of books for us. Even one of his colleagues sent an annual Christmas book, wrapped in brown paper and a red ribbon. I think the very first was a copy of Anne of Green Gables which has long disappeared from my shelves. I don’t really remember what happened to it – just on one of our rather frequent moves, I was packing my books into boxes and I realised it wasn’t there anymore. So books (as presents) have always been a part of my life.

How could I possibly pinpoint one? Then (be warned, this is quite cheesy), I realised that the best gift of all is the love of reading that my parents planted in me. More meaningful to me than a single book or a single occasion, are the hours my mum spent when I was a kid, driving us to and from the library; reading to us before bed, encouraging us to love books. I mean, this is sort of odd because my parents don’t actually read a lot themselves. After a tiring day of work, my mum prefers to watch movies and that sort of thing. My mother is many, many wonderful things (she’s the best cook as far as I know) but she was never a voracious reader. Many of our book-related conversations sound something like this:

“Mum, what’s Les Miserables about?”

“It’s about a boy who steals candlesticks from an old priest.”

“Is it good?”

“The movie was great.”

“How about War and Peace?

“Well, it was very long.”

“How many pages?”

“It actually went for about three hours.”

As for my dad, his reading material consists mostly of newspapers and financial reports. So I never quite understood why they emphasised the importance of reading, but I’m grateful all the same. Since then, I’ve have so many obsessions – including a strange, and brief, stint with perfume making – but books will always remain my first love. For exercise though, I’d have to recommend shopping. It keeps the calories burning for hours and hours, and it helps your wallet get lighter too! Clearly, I am not a child of the consumerist age.

Oh! But if I had to choose one memorable book, I’d have to say it’s this one:

It is the most wonderful, inspirational book ever. It doesn’t contain any ‘innovative, practical’ advice as such, but I detest instructional art books anyway. They’re so disgustingly formulaic. Anyway, as might be evident from the overload of [mostly irrelevant] images on my blog, I am an art lover as well as a book lover. Once I entertained hopes of going into illustration or fashion design or architecture, but then I decided I would rather major in something else at uni, and draw/paint/sculpt/sew clothes as a hobby rather than a career. And this book, with all its wonderful blown-up-to-big-size pictures helps me to get through the drudgery of everyday life. When my muse decides to play hide and seek with me, this is the book I turn to. It’s beautiful, it’s big, and it was expensive. My parents bought it for me, a few years back, for my birthday – and I love them, and it. Sorry if I made you vomit with my sentimentality.

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13 thoughts on “A Greater Gift

  1. Not at all. I totally enjoyed reading your answer. Okay, I happen to like mush. You are a fortunate person to have such good parents. Happy Booking Through Thursday. I’m hosting a book giveaway. Check out my sidebar.

  2. That wasn’t cheesy. Reading is a gift. Your parents did good. I’ll have to remember that drawing book. My brother loves to draw.

    Btw, as soon as I saw this post, I was impressed by how beautiful it looked. I love the paper stars and Anne and the Drawing Book. Gorgeous!

  3. Not cheesy or overly sentimental at all, but really sweet. I tried to instill a love of reading with my children but it didn’t really take, :-) But I hope they do have fond memories of our library trips and reading together.

  4. Neither am I (a child of consumer age). But I do spend a good chunk off my paycheck on books. My parents were supportive of my reading, but they never had any clue what my preference was!

    Over the years my friends have cringed from giving me books for my birthday owing to my eclectic taste. I wish to express my desire for a bookstore gift-card but yet it sounds a bit inappropriate.

  5. Matthew – Actually I was being sarcastic! (well, attempting to anyway). I’m still a student, so most of my money disappears into books and clothes; I have no idea what will happen to me when I have to get a regular job. And yes, I have also wished to explicitly ASK for a gift card, but it would be a bit inconsiderate, hahah

    Cathy & Barbara – I’m glad no one found my post overly sentimental. And of course, I agree that it is the greatest gift. I just hope I’ll be able to instill a love of reading in my own children someday…

    Yvonne – a happy thursday to you too <3

    Chris – thanks! And yes, I’d definitely recommend The Drawing Book to anyone who loves drawing.

    Sally – you know, I always loved my parents of course, but I don’t think I realised the extent to which I appreciated their encouragement of reading until I wrote this post. I enjoyed reading your answer too :)

  6. marie – It’s funny how family values are invariably linked to reading. Some of my friends were never encouraged to read when they were younger, and now they hardly ever pick up a book unless it’s compulsory reading material for school..

  7. Far from making me nauseous my dear, your words have warmed this mother’s heart. I’m always hopeful that my years of incessant reading aloud and trips to the libraries and bookstores were not in vain…you’ve given me hope!

    Lovely post :)

  8. Becca – Aw thanks, I’m blushing~

    And I’m sure your years of incessant reading aloud and trips to the library were not in vain at all. Personally, if I ever have children, I will read Austen to them while they are still in the womb ;)

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