Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Years ago L.'s mother started putting gifts other than eggs and chocolate bunnies in our Easter baskets. L. would get a book and I would get dish towels.

You think you know where this story is going, don't you?

Actually, I love the tradition of getting fresh new dish towels every spring and would be sorely disappointed if our basket were to turn out to be towel-free one year. It was the books that turned out to be the bum steer.

At first the books were the mass market best seller type of thing that I could picture L.'s sister's husband reading. I read one once, told L. it was about a sociopath who murdered women and then wore their skins. Why, he asked, did his mother think he'd want to read about that?

Because it's not that easy to find Thomas Hardy in the bookstore in our hometown?

The books would usually be offered up at the annual neighborhood yard sale.

After a few years, my mother-in-law switched to giving L. the latest hardback political best seller. Neither of us could ever muster enough enthusiasm to attempt reading any of them and I found that used bookstores generally aren't interested in taking them off sellers' hands since they have such a short shelf-life. I believe there's still a pile of them somewhere in the garage waiting to go to Good Will.

Last year I got smart and exchanged the political offering at the bookstore the week after Easter. I think I must have even mustered the courage to tell L.'s mom that he flat out wouldn't read any of these books; this year there was no book in the basket, although I didn't pay attention to what he got in its place. A Lowe's gift card, maybe?

But the reason I've told you the above now instead of at Easter time is because I am now reading a political book, Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine. I'm two chapters in and at this point it's making me feel rather itchy. I'm craving end notes and attribution for all these direct quotations from conversations that Suskind certainly wasn't privy to.

I'm going to give it one more chapter; if I haven't adjusted to the style by then, it's going back to the library.

I'm so glad it came from the library.


  1. That's a rather funny story :)

  2. How funny-- my family never did Easter baskets, but my husband's family does, so now I also get some goodies in the basket every year. It's different every year, but when my mother in law does put a book or two in, it's always something thoughtful. Now I'm very thankful!

    At least you get new dish towels!

  3. My husband's uncle regularly gives me paperback murder mysteries for Christmas, which is funny, really. If he new anything about my life...well, he wouldn't bother.
    I tend to put the books in the "donate" box for the charity that picks up once each month.


  4. Sometimes it's best to do just that, Chrissy.

    Now, my mother-in-law does know that I'm going to get to the good books before she does, so often times she'll give me book vouchers for Christmas, instead of attempting to pick something out for me, or she'll tell me to buy her a book for her birthday or Mother's Day, and then she passes it on to me when she's done. THAT I like.

  5. Gift books are tricky, aren't they? It's worse when someone gives you a book they loved and expects you to read it right away and love it too...I've gotten a few copies of books like "The DaVinci Code" from my friends and family, and been stuck with "You haven't read it yet? But it's so good! And I thought you liked books!" (To be fair, though, I've probably done that to my friends and family too, only with obscure French novels instead of Dan Brown.)

    Dish towels, now that's a nice present.


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

Sherman Alexie cancels book tour for memoir about his mother.