Some of the greatest gifts I have ever received have been books. I love to get lost in the stories among their pages, I love how their pages feel in my hands, and I love having them around me. I always tell my kids that when they grow up and move out, one of their rooms is going to become my new walk-in closet and another room is going to be my own personal library.
I’ve already designed it in my mind. It will have big cushy chairs and ottomans, little lamps sprinkled throughout, and shelves and shelves of books, from floor to ceiling. I’ll also move my vintage roll top desk that my husband bought me for my birthday into the room so that I can write to my heart’s content, surrounded by my works of inspiration.
No one will ever go wrong with gifting me a book. I’ll read almost anything. Cookbooks, fiction, non-fiction, art books, biographies, you name it, I’ll read it. I have a pretty good collection in my house now (hence the need for my own library) and it keeps growing.
In fact, last weekend I added even more to my collection. My husband and I were out Christmas shopping in our historic downtown. After we were done picking out gifts, we stopped in Riverby Books . Riverby’s sells used and rare books. For this book lover, it’s the best bookstore around, not just for its content, but also for its cozy ambiance. It has three levels with a diverse collection of books nestled on shelves, in corners and on floors. There are also comfy chairs if you want to curl up with a good read and lots of nooks and crannies to explore. I can’t walk out of there without buying a bag full of books. I’ll usually pick up copies of classic literature, but I’ve also come across some real treasures.
One of them is the book that’s featured in the photo at the top of this post. It’s called “Good Will”: A Collection of Christmas Stories by Mark Guy Pearse. Four stories are included, the first of which is titled, “Matt Stubbs’ Dream; or, Christmas Eve at the Blue Boar.” When I opened the book the other night to start reading, I saw this inscription written in neat cursive:
Charles L. Lumley
Presented to him by Miss M. C. Calder
December 14th, 1906.
That date got me wondering about the print date, which I found on a previous page: 1887. If that is indeed the date the book was printed, then this book that I now own is 130 years old! I wish I had asked the Riverby’s staff if they knew anything more about the book: where it came from and who Mr. Lumley and Miss Calder were. That may have been just as interesting a story as Matt Stubb’s Dream!
If you’re ever in the Fredericksburg, VA area, be sure to stop by Riverby Books. They also have a store in Washington, D.C. if you don’t make it this far south. It will be worth your time.
Some Intriguing Reads
If you have any book lovers on your Christmas list, here are a few titles that I’ve read over the last few months that would make good gifts. You can see more of my favorite books here.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Dr. Kalanithi was almost done with his training as a neurosurgeon when he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. This book depicts his struggle to face death knowing he would be leaving his wife and infant daughter. He died while working on the book. His wife, Lucy, wrote the epilogue. I could barely see the last few pages because of my tears. It’s a brilliant and emotional piece of work and one that I have gone back to time and time again.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. This book intrigued me and turned my stomach at the same time. It’s the story of a woman in New York who fought to save a group of survivors from a concentration camp for women. The book is based on a real-life story, but I had not heard of this particular aspect of the war. The medical experiments that were performed on these women by the Nazis were cruel beyond belief and I still find myself filled with disbelief that humans could inflict so much pain on other humans. But the courage of the women who do survive and the bravery of the one who brought them to America is what makes this book a keeper.
The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond. I could not put this book down, it was that good. A young married couple agree to join an exclusive club of other married couples that abide by a rigid set of rules designed to keep their marriages healthy and happy. But one of them breaks the rules and finds that this pact that seemed like such a good idea in the beginning is quickly turning their marriage into a nightmare. Will they stay in the pact? Do they have a choice? You’ll have to read it yourself to find out.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. This book about a woman who thinks she witnesses a murder on a yacht definitely kept me guessing. Just when I thought I knew who did it, the author would throw another twist into the story. If anyone on your list likes mysteries and thrillers, this book would make a great gift.
To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again by Mary C. Neal. The reason I started reading this book is because I saw the author on a morning news show talking about another book that she just wrote. That one is titled 7 Lessons From Heaven: How Dying Taught Me To Live a Joy-Filled Life. During her interview she talked about dying in a kayaking accident and how she saw heaven, spoke with angels, and was comforted by Jesus. This experience is chronicled in her first book, To Heaven and Back. I really wanted to read 7 Lessons but felt I needed to read her first book to truly understand her experience. To Heaven and Back is matter-of-fact, easy to read and intriguing. 7 Lessons is next on my reading list.
The romance novel, Miss You, by Kate Eberlen, is currently on my bedside table. I just started this book but I can tell you that so far it’s pretty good. It’s easy to read and the story line moves along at a good pace. Like I said, I just started this book and don’t know too much other than it’s a story about two people who are supposed to be together but life keeps getting in the way. I don’t know if they’ll be with each other in the end, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
If you’d rather not give a book, a magazine subscription is another good idea. I just started reading The Magnolia Journal, by Joanna and Chip Gaines of HGTV fame. The journal is published quarterly and its goal is to provide inspiration for life and home. What I originally thought was another home and garden magazine is actually a compilation of thoughtful, well-written articles by the Gaines themselves as well as guest authors. It does include some home and gardening type info, but there are also wonderful, heart warming stories included such as the article by Chip Gaines in the November issue about one Christmas when he and his kids delivered presents to families in need. The magazine is beautifully laid out on thick paper with a slight sheen (I have this love for how pages feel against my fingers).
I hope I gave you some ideas for the book lovers on your list. If you have read any good books that you’d like to share, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you and I would love to add another good book to my collection. After all, I’m building a library one day.
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