What do you buy for a person who doesn’t like to read?  Who complains that it takes too long to read a newspaper? Who hasn’t read a book for pleasure in her adult life? I had this problem a few weeks ago when I wanted to buy a gift for a good friend who was moving out of town for a new job.  Of course I headed for a book store because my standard gift is a book.  I buy books because there’s nearly an infinite variety and it’s possible to tailor it to the recipient’s taste. Unless they don’t like to read.  Then you’re screwed, if you’ll pardon my crudeness.

I wandered up and down the aisles of the Book Table.  Of course I found several things I would like to read but I had to be stern with myself and remember why I was there. I checked out all their little tchotchkes—paper dolls, houses that are cleverly made out of paper, calendars, recorded books.  Nothing seemed quite right.  I bought a card and magnetic doll and was depressed.  I couldn’t get her jewelry because she makes it.  I couldn’t get her clothing because she’s fussy and wears only designer duds that are out of my price range. I don’t know what kind of music she likes.  What does she do with all the spare time she has? I read hours a day which means I don’t watch much TV, see only a few movies and get seriously behind on laundry.

There is a crucial bond missing from our friendship because we can’t share the printed word.  A void that is difficult to bridge, especially now that we are geographically separated.  How can I be friends with a person who never picks up a book to pass the time? Who isn’t passionate about some authors or genres?  It defies reason. I left feeling that there must be a book somewhere that addressed this problem. It’s my happy chore to haunt bookstores until I find it.   

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Helen Kossler

Helen Kossler loves reading aloud to her grandchildren and is not ashamed to admit that she almost always likes the book better than the movie. She has been buying, borrowing, begging and stealing (well—not...

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