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Give the holiday gift with the most staying power

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I reached back, read the first page of this journey from sinful youth to Christian conversion, and discovered a treasure written in AD 397. Reading the thoughts and wisdom of someone who lived more than a millennium and a half ago is true time travel.

The very act of holding a book is a sensual experience. It’s old-fashioned and comforting. My financial manager recently confessed a deep secret: His wife was going to Baltimore for the evening and he relished the time alone with a book. 

“What I find very exciting is sitting in a room in an otherwise dark house, resting in my chair with a blanket over me. I will have a fire in the fireplace and but one reading lamp on. The dog is lying beside me, and I am reading a book. I have trouble defining a happier moment.”

Another thing about books – they have a staying power few other gifts can match. Who will ever forget the first time reading “Don Quixote” or “Moby-Dick” or “Pride and Prejudice”? They are passports into other worlds. Years later, I still chuckle recalling the bawdy adventures of the fictional “Flashman” character. But the Flashman chronicles are first-rate historical fiction, however implausible. 

Give someone a book for Christmas because of the sheer pleasure it conveys.

Books may be the truest of loves.

A friend who grew up in Argentina recalled “our small, British school, 60 girls, from kindergarten to high school. [It had] a one-room library filled from floor to ceiling with books. Once a year, one by one, the last day of school, the headmistress summoned us. She chose the books we’d take home over our three-month summer holiday. I took them to the ranch where we spent most of our summers. I remember sitting under the trees or up in some branches or lying under them reading, reading, reading: ‘Little Men,’ ‘Little Women,’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’ I hope the books stayed in Buenos Aires after the headmistress sold the school and returned to England.”

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