‘Books are a uniquely portable magic.’
– Stephen King, On Writing
When birthdays or Christmas roll around, there’s nothing I like more than the book-shaped parcels that are an inevitable purchase for someone who loves to read. In our family, they’re invariably accompanied by the joke that never gets old (really, Dad!) about how it’s a bicycle or a bottle of whiskey. But it’s better than either of those things: it’s a hunk (usually, given my reading preferences, a rather large hunk) of paper and card that has the power to transport me out of my everyday life, and into something – or somewhere – completely different.
Maybe it’s for this same reason that books are always my first port of call when it comes to buying gifts for other people. New baby? The Fisher Price My First Book is perfect (at least it was when Fisher Price were still producing it). Sister’s wedding? How about a hardcopy of Edward Monkton’s A Lovely Love Story to commemorate the fact that it was the piece I opted to read during the ceremony? What child can resist F. Paul Wilson’s brilliant The Christmas Thingy at this time of year? Or the many adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh at any time of the year? And what adult can resist the charms of young Jack, the narrator of Emma Donoghue’s Room, or the myriad characters that form the central core of Stephen King’s Under The Dome?
I like to think of myself of something of an evangelist (though not of the Billy Graham type): I love to promote reading and try to do what I can to spread the love for books, so when I buy gifts for the young’uns, they’re books that I loved at that age and which I believe still hold the power to enthral and astound. It’s an encouragement to read, and in some ways a subtle hint that reading is an acceptable pastime, something that they shouldn’t be afraid of doing, or of being seen doing. With adults, it’s about sharing the books that I’ve loved with others, a much more personal – and personalised – version of the posts that you find on Reader Dad.
No matter what, there’s a pact between the recipient and I, an unspoken promise that it’s something I think they’ll enjoy, something that is much more than the paper on which it is printed. It’s a ticket to another world; a brief glimpse into another life; a gift that will bring hours, if not days, of escapism and entertainment.
My family have resigned themselves to the fact that there is a very good chance that a gift from me won’t be a bicycle or a bottle of whiskey, and I’m happy to say that I’ve even converted some of them to my way of thinking. And it’s great to see that I’m not alone: projects like World Book Night and Neil Gaiman’s All Hallow’s Read are evidence that there are plenty of like-minded people in the world, who love to give and receive books as gifts. All in all, I can’t imagine a greater gift than that of reading, or of something new and amazing to read.
Thanks to the wonderful Quercus family who will be running the #GreatestGift campaign throughout December; I’m delighted to have been asked to take part, and look forward to following the campaign as fellow bloggers and vloggers have their say.
Thanks also to Quercus, who have provided a wonderful bundle of books, as well as some lovely #GreatestGift stuff (gorgeous postcard, poster and bookmark, right), that will be given away at the end of today to one lucky winner. The books in question are all books I’ve read this year, and you can expect to see some of them in my list of favourite books later this month. Click on the links to see my reviews:
Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Jöel Dicker
Research by Philip Kerr
Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell
Irène by Pierre Lemaitre
To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is send a single tweet answering the following question:
Which book would be your #GreatestGift?
Make sure you include the hashtag #GreatestGift as well as including @MattGCraig @QuercusBooks to ensure your entry is included.
The competition will close at 6 PM this evening, 1st December 2014 and the winner will be notified shortly thereafter.
Follow the #GreatestGift hashtag on Twitter, find details of the full campaign at the Quercus blog, and be sure to check out Book Addict Shaun tomorrow for more on #GreatestGift and another giveaway of another amazing bundle of books.