The Books They Gave Me

The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love, and Lit has a throwback vintage sort of look to it. The look, along with the premise, just scream “Give me to a bookworm!”

Jen Adams has collected stories from various people — told anonymously — about a gifted book that was especially meaningful. Some meant good things, like “This person totally gets me,” and others foreshadowed the lack of knowing that ultimately resulted in growing apart.

The entries are each formatted in the same way: a colored picture of the book being profiled at the top, followed by the story. Some are a few sentences long and others are a couple of pages long, with the majority falling somewhere in the middle with a few paragraphs describing the book gifting in question.

There are some common themes, such as a fellow bookworm relative who always gave books, or a significant other giving the completely wrong book. Some books were actually gifted, but others were loaned or suggested, but the recipient recognized the value of the contents of the book. The fact that the person wanted them to read the perfect book was memorable in itself.

I totally understand that. I love matching up the right book with the right person, and love it when someone “gets me” enough to suggest or give me a book that I end up enjoying. I don’t care if the physical book accompanies the suggestion or not, though a physical reminder on my bookshelf, possibly inscribed, is fun too.

This is a fun book to browse. It’s a virtual connection with others who feel the same we do about books. It’s not organized in any logical order, which would improve it in my opinion. The table of contents has the essays listed in sequential order by author and title of the featured book. I would have liked to see an index by book title or author as well. However, you can scan the table of contents to search for your own personal favorites.

I’m happy to be able to offer a copy of this book, from the publisher, offered to a booklover by a booklover. Just leave a comment if you’d like to win. And if you’d like to — just for fun — tell me about a book that you gave or received that hit the target perfectly.

We’ll announce the winner in our book column on December 5 (U.S. shipping addresses only).

Don’t miss a thing: Check out our current giveaways. Subscribe to our feed. Follow us @5M4B on Twitter or on Facebook.

Jennifer loves putting books in the right hands — of friends, her children, and friends’ children.


  1. says

    When I was a young teenager, I read the Flowers in the Attic books. [I know, I know, forgive me, I was very young.] I was somewhat furtive about it, because even then I knew they were … shall we say … not terribly literary. One summer day, my mom came home from the supermarket with a copy of the newest in that series. She gave it to me to read, saying, “I saw it and I know you’ve enjoyed the other ones, and sometimes it’s good to have a distraction from everyday life.”

    I felt like she was telling me that it’s OK to read silly stuff sometimes, and that she loves me no matter how “intellectual” — or not — I seem. I’m not sure I’m explaining it well, but it meant a lot to me at the time. It was a feeling of being loved and accepted for who I am.

    But please, don’t take this as a recommendation for those books. I was a very silly teenager.

  2. Jessica T says

    My mom – not a book lover – used to research and buy me a book for christmas every year. She’d ask people what was good and search top sellers till she found a good book for me. She died 9 years ago and I still miss my christmas book gift! The funny part of this story is she bought me a book one year and I just couldn’t get into it – first time I’ve ever quit on a book. The next year I was excited to she what she got me, and it was the SAME BOOK! She forgot that she had bought it already! And I hated it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge