We have a quirky tradition in our family. We gift books at almost all gifting occasions. It all started with my Scottish grandparents who could only see us every four to five years on our scheduled furloughs. So, since phone calls back then were only for emergencies, they chose books as the conduit for staying connected to their grandchildren.

My parents built on this practice. For example, for Christmas, we received three gifts each:  a book, a toy, and a piece of clothing. There wasn’t a room in our home without bookshelves housing a trove of stories at the ready. Even our inner corridor was flanked with bookshelves overflowing with National Geographic, Newsweek, and Life Magazines; Americana, Britannica, and Science Encyclopedias; and a monster Webster’s Dictionary perched like a valuable Ming Vase punctuating the end of the hallway. Our home was like tactile Google on display ready to satisfy the meandering curiosities of our young minds.

My home today mirrors this same love of books with the addition of an arts and crafts shelf of baskets spilling over with paper, colored pencils, paints, and brushes supporting books about paper, colors, and brushes!

A favorite author of mine, Jeannette Walls, wrote a poignant explanation of how her love of books necessitated in her the sharing and giving of books. She said, “Sometimes after I finished a particularly good book, I had the urge to get the library card, find out who read the book, and track them down to talk about it.”

How do you pass on that bubbling effervescent love of books to another?

That’s how I add my few grains to the sandbox of human knowledge!

Jeffry Eugenides

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