Delaney: Books as Gifts

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(Host) Commentator and former State Senator Dennis Delaney considers a
book to be just about the perfect gift – both to give and to receive.

After I buy the New York Times each Sunday I hurry home and quickly
rummage through its many sections. I toss aside for the moment those on
the latest news, travel, editorials and all the rest until I have my
prize in hand: The weekly Book Review.

I’ve always loved to
read. I’m an addict for the printed word, especially in book form. The
information it gives me, the pleasure with which it often warms me, the
characters I meet in printers ink on its paper pages, are all deeply

There’s a word for people like me: Bibliophile. It’s
a rather odd word – a Greek confection that refers to someone who’s a
lover of books – and more precisely, a lover of reading.

I don’t
know exactly when the seed for a love of reading was planted in me –
nor why it thrived – but my mother read to me as a child. Sadly, my
father did not because he was at war. Then, too, our school days were
always full of wonderful fiction to enjoy; we had library cards and
checked out lots of books – though we didn’t always return them on time.

I can still feel how Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities swept me up
in the drama and excitement of the French Revolution. Catcher in the Rye
and its adolescent hero Holden Caulfield was a brother to us all. And
none of us will ever forget To Kill a Mockingbird . It was Harper Lee’s
only novel. And I doubt she could have surpassed it with another.

guys go to sports’ bars; well, so do I sometimes. But I’m just as
likely to spend time browsing in a bookstore. More often than not I find
a title or two I want to own. So I make the purchase and walk out
feeling happy – as I look forward to discovering new pleasures between
the book’s fresh covers. I also feel a little guilty – having spent more
than I should have. But maybe that is what’s meant by a "felix culpa" –
a happy fault.

Perhaps you’ve guessed by now that I’m not into
E-books – and may never be. I love printed paper pages, may of which I
dogear. I don’t mean to put down E-books, but you can’t put them on
shelves to remind you of one of life’s richest pastimes – that of
reading a book.

Author Anne Lamott agrees with me, so to speak,
but she says it better. "A printed book", she wrote, " is like a
cathedral or a library or a beach – holy space".

And a famous French politician by name of Anatole France warned us:"Never lend books, for no one ever returns them".

I rarely lend books – but I’m always eager to give them as gifts. And
my philosophy is " If I like it you get it". Now, if you’ll excuse me, I
have some holiday shopping to do!

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