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Delaney: Books as Gifts

(Host) Commentator and former State Senator Dennis Delaney considers a book to be just about the perfect gift - both to give and to receive.

(Delaney) After I buy the New York Times each Sunday I hurry home and quickly rummage through its many sections. I toss aside for the moment those on the latest news, travel, editorials and all the rest until I have my prize in hand: The weekly Book Review.

I've always loved to read. I'm an addict for the printed word, especially in book form. The information it gives me, the pleasure with which it often warms me, the characters I meet in printers ink on its paper pages, are all deeply satisfying.

There's a word for people like me: Bibliophile. It's a rather odd word - a Greek confection that refers to someone who's a lover of books - and more precisely, a lover of reading.

I don't know exactly when the seed for a love of reading was planted in me - nor why it thrived - but my mother read to me as a child. Sadly, my father did not because he was at war. Then, too, our school days were always full of wonderful fiction to enjoy; we had library cards and checked out lots of books - though we didn't always return them on time.

I can still feel how Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities swept me up in the drama and excitement of the French Revolution. Catcher in the Ryeand its adolescent hero Holden Caulfield was a brother to us all. And none of us will ever forget To Kill a Mockingbird . It was Harper Lee's only novel. And I doubt she could have surpassed it with another.

Some guys go to sports' bars; well, so do I sometimes. But I'm just as likely to spend time browsing in a bookstore. More often than not I find a title or two I want to own. So I make the purchase and walk out feeling happy - as I look forward to discovering new pleasures between the book's fresh covers. I also feel a little guilty - having spent more than I should have. But maybe that is what's meant by a felix culpa -a happy fault.

Perhaps you've guessed by now that I'm not into E-books - and may never be. I love printed paper pages, may of which I dogear. I don't mean to put down E-books, but you can't put them on shelves to remind you of one of life's richest pastimes - that of reading a book.

Author Anne Lamott agrees with me, so to speak, but she says it better. A printed book, she wrote, is like a cathedral or a library or a beach - holy space.

And a famous French politician by name of Anatole France warned us:Never lend books, for no one ever returns them.

So I rarely lend books - but I'm always eager to give them as gifts. And my philosophy is If I like it you get it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some holiday shopping to do!

Dennis Delaney is a former Republican State Senator.
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