‘This story, like so many stories, begins with a gift. The gift, like so many gifts, was a book…’
So begins Robert Macfarlane’s masterful and luminous essay, on the gift and power of giving and receiving books. This small, beautifully bound treasure was given to me by one of my oldest, dearest friends a little over a week ago in a cafe as sunlight slanted through the windows. It took about an hour to read and once I had finished it, I went straight back to the beginning and read it again.
My instinct was to keep it; to re-read it every so often. A special little book for life. It certainly deserves to be.
This is a book that needs to be read, imbibed and then passed on. No doubt about it. He discusses books that have been gifted to him over the years and books that he has passed on to others. The most significant book he has ever been given is A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor, which tells the story of the author’s legendary walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in the early 1930’s at the age of only 18 – the original ‘gap year’ and now firmly on my reading list. This book so inspired Macfarlane that it led him to walk thousands of miles himself and to reflect upon ‘…what types of kindness might stand outside the reciprocal binds of the cash economy.’
Reading Macfarlane’s essay brought home to me afresh the tremendous power imbued with gift giving; that passing something on, if we allow it to be, can be an adventure in generosity, creativity and integrity. In Macfarlane’s words, ‘…unlike commodities, gifts…possess an exceptional power to transform, to heal and to inspire.’
And what better gift to give than a book? To be honest, I’m now wondering if all these books I’ve hoarded over the years (I only keep books I’m fond of) might have been better passed on, into the right hands. Might it be time to change the habit of a lifetime? Macfarlane’s essay has certainly made me wonder. He states that ‘…the gift is kept moving, given onwards in a new form.’ Why a new form? Because although the book may physically look the same, it can never be the same once it has been read. In the reciprocal relationship between reader and book, something has been imparted and the book (and reader) can never be the same again. This may sound like batty bookworm talk, but book lovers out there will know what I’m talking about.
In light of this, I may just get one more sneaky read in of Robert Macfarlane’s altogether sublime The Gifts of Reading. Then I would like to pas it on. If you are interested in receiving this (wherever you are in the world), please leave a comment on this blog with your email address. In one week today (7pm Saturday 30th July) I will draw a name from a hat and send you this book. All I ask is this: Keep sending it on. When you have drunk your fill of this special little book, please keep it moving.
http://rebeccastonehill.com/wp-content/uploads/IMG_6724.jpg33902442Rebecca Stonehillhttp://rebeccastonehill.com/wp-content/uploads/mtbsdpgw.bmpRebecca Stonehill2016-07-23 13:36:412016-07-23 13:36:41Win a small treasure: The Gifts of Reading