I moved to New York for a grand adventure. And though it was that, it was also a tear-soaked enterprise. I cried a lot. I also read a lot. A friend gave me a stack of books. I think you will like these, she said. And while I endured a difficult year out of my element, I used those books to escape to other worlds, both real and imaginary. I went hiking with Bill Bryson in A Walk in the Woods. I saw the horrors of the Vietnam jungle in The Things They Carried. I read Cormac McCarthy’s postapocalyptic tale, The Road, with a hand half over my eyes. And my heart split open with grief with The Kite Runner. This took place mostly on the subway between my Brooklyn apartment and the DailyCandy office — and it set for me a new literary standard. It was the year of magical reading.
This is not something you will find in Jen Adams’s blog-turned-book, The Books They Gave Me. But it could be. (Disclosure: It is DailyCandy copy chief Allison Hatfield’s story.) Adams’s hardcover charmer celebrates the gift of books with 200 short anecdotes by people who received such from someone important in their lives — and the thoughts and feelings those gifts provoked. Some are funny. Some are sad. Each one is a tiny polished gem born of the Internet.
It makes a great present.
Photo: Courtesy of Atria Books