As the saying goes, good things come in small packages, and giving someone a book can be a good thing that lasts long after the wrapping paper has been put into the recycling bin. Below, our staff shares eight books they’ve received, and the lasting impact those thoughtful gifts have had on their lives. Make memories, give books.
I’ll never be able to thank my best friend enough for making me read THE MARRIAGE PLOT. It addresses the serious issues imbedded in growing up, falling in love, and mental health in a way that makes them relatable and removes shame from the equation—and also has the best ending I’ve ever read. —Taylor
This smart and thought-provoking story focuses on Madeleine Hanna, an English major obsessed with Austen and Eliot and their use of the “marriage plot” device in literature. As she studies the classics, her love life becomes complicated when her old friend Mitchell Grammaticus and the intense intellectual Leonard Bankhead compete for her affections.
When she was in high school, my mom went through an F. Scott Fitzgerald phase. I started mine in the fifth grade when she got me a copy of THE GREAT GATSBY from the library. I devoured it and still consider it both a perfect novel and a reminder of how sharing a book can be life changing. —Kerry
Some consider it “the great American novel.” The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his powerful love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan is an exquisitely crafted tale that has been essential reading since it was published.
Read the full review here.
For my 25th birthday a friend gave me a special pen for signing future book contracts and a copy of ON WRITING. I was touched by her faith in me as a writer and also by Stephen King’s moving memoir of the craft. The book is about so much more than writing—it’s about finding inspiration, following your passion, and persevering through life’s struggles. —Sarah Jane
“Nothing I have ever read about the writing life has moved or inspired me more. Whether or not you are a King fan, whether you are a professional writer or have never written a word, this is essential reading on the art of writing and the art of life.”
I wasn’t sure what to think when my mom handed me a book about the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood, as told by Dinah, the daughter of the biblical Jacob, but it ended up being one of my favorite books. I was deeply moved by the strength and solidarity of the women in this novel. —Taylor
I still have my exquisitely illustrated Junior Library Edition of the ARABIAN NIGHTS that my mother gave me for my eighth birthday. I’ve probably read it 1,001 times, and, although I’ve aged out of the children’s versions of these tales, that first copy will always be my favorite. —Allison
I like to think I read pretty quickly, but I also inhale a lot of contemporary novels, memoirs, and narrative nonfiction—books that practically beg you to turn the pages. I rarely pick up classics by those old-white-guy Americans like Cormac McCarthy because, frankly, they take time (and focus and underlining and notes in the margin). BLOOD MERIDIAN has been taunting me since last summer when I foolishly bragged to the friend who handed it to me that I would have it finished that weekend. And I will finish it! …someday… —Elizabeth
Cormac McCarthy's masterwork, Blood Meridian, chronicles the brutal world of the Texas-Mexico borderlands in the mid-nineteenth century. Its wounded hero, the teenage Kid, must confront the extraordinary violence of the Glanton gang, a murderous cadre on an official mission to scalp Indians. Judge Holden, a supremely violent and perverted man who rides with the Glanton gang, is an avid naturalist and, of course, butterfly collector.
My aunt gave me a hardcover edition when I was seven, and it began my childhood obsession with all things Little House, right down to my wearing a sunbonnet while running behind my grandma’s house, pretending the canal there was a willowed creek, and dreaming that I lived in a dugout. I still have the book and still love it. —Allison
When I was in my twenties, my grandfather gave me a copy of the Book-of-the-Month Club edition of Christopher Morley’s 1917 classic with a gently frayed jacket and penciled price of $2.00. The flap copy quotes the Boston Evening Transcript, saying “To read PARNASSUS ON WHEELS is to be glad there are books in the world. It is graceful in style, light in substance, merry in its attitude toward life, and entertaining in every aspect of its plot and insight into character.” As someone who’s always seen the sharing of books as the highest form of connection, this gift from my grandfather was an acknowledgment of his seeing who I was at my core—a book person. It holds a treasured place on my special shelf. —Wendy