One of my favourite things about Christmas is books. I can't decide which is best: giving or receiving.
It’s lovely to receive a book you haven’t asked for. Especially if the giver really knows you and gets it just right – a book you’d never thought of reading but thoroughly enjoy.
Choosing the perfect book for a friend can be challenging but so rewarding. And you have the added joy of browsing the bookshop shelves and perhaps adding a couple of treats for yourself!
Before I started Christmas shopping this year I resolved to be strong and only buy gifts for people on my list, ie nothing for myself. I was determined to stay on track and on budget (a New Year’s resolution made early). Mostly I remained in control and resisted the urge to buy ‘little treats’ for me like a pretty nail polish that would perfectly match my party dress and dangly earrings that would really set it off…..yes, I admit that I did look but that’s as far as it went. I was being sensible. I had lived perfectly well without these things and I wouldn’t die if I didn’t have them – my reasoning was sound. My resolve was strong.
With most of my shopping done, I set aside a lovely afternoon to visit my local bookshop to squirrel out perfect reads for some special people on my list. I knew this would take me a while but far from being a chore I was thoroughly looking forward to it. Bypassing the tables piled high with celebrity books I made my way through the harried shoppers looking for a quick fix for another present to cross off their list and I arrived calmly at my favourite part of the shop: ‘fiction’. Floor to ceiling shelves filled with the many imaginings of a multitude of authors. I didn’t stop to wonder where to begin and I had no system for searching, I simply plucked out books at random and read a little.
Needless to say, it was some later when I eased myself back into the throng of shoppers who now looked even more panicky as closing time was near. Happily I joined the queue, pleased with my selection for friends and just a little smug that I hadn’t relented and picked any for myself.
You may remember that I said ‘mostly I remained in control’. Well, what happened next took me completely by surprise. The friendly bookseller who often stops to chat saw me and made his way over. Wishing me a merry Christmas (how sweet of him!) he then started to look through the books I was holding. We had a little conservation (as we often do) about my choices and who they were for and then he picked a book from a nearby shelf and with a flourish said: ‘And how about something for you? You’ll love this book, I just know you will.’ Well, what could I say? He has an impeccable taste in books and many times I have been guided by his recommendation. So I thanked him heartily and wished him a very merry Christmas and before I knew it I had reached the checkout and left the shop smiling, with a sudden burning urge to get home and start reading this wonderful book.
So there you are, my New Year’s resolution broken before the year even started. But boy, was it worth it!
And the book? Mr Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo.
I would definitely recommend it!