Anat blew out her five candles, then handed me a present.
"For me?" I asked. "But it's your birthday, not mine."
I tore off the paper to find Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are."
Anat's mother said, "We'll be moving back to Israel at the end of the semester and we thought this would be a nice way for Anat to continue being a part of things here. She said your copy of this book is about to fall apart and you might like to have a new one."
It's been 35 years since Anat gave me that book, but I'm still touched at how her present -- and presence -- gave joy to so many.
With so many people on our Christmas or Hanukkah list not needing or wanting anything, why not dedicate a book in their name to the Gwinnett County Public Library? And especially in honor of their special talent or interest?
Deborah George, Materials Manager for GCPL, said that for $25, the library places a bookplate in honor or memory of a loved one. Not only do you honor your loved one, but you also help provide reading enjoyment for the entire community. Yes, people say that with Kindle and the Internet, books are becoming obsolete, but that's just not true. Sometimes you need the presence of that hard copy.
For example, George said a few years ago she wanted to buy a new Bible because all she had was her "kid Bible" from childhood. Ever notice in bookstores how all the Bibles are sealed? Ever try to flip through and compare 20 different versions on Kindle? Even if you managed to download all of them for free, how much time is it going to cost and how many pages of notes are you going to have to write to make your final decision?
"In the library you can leisurely look through all the different versions," George said, pointing to a shelf full of Bibles.
We moved on to the cookbooks. I thought about all the grease stained printouts I have floating around my kitchen and could truly appreciated the value of a book like "Coffee Love: 50 Ways to Drink Your Java" with everything I could want to know bound up in one place. George pointed out the books on canning. "With food prices going up, canning is becoming very popular, but to buy even a few of these books, it would cancel out any savings," she said. I picked up a copy of "Canning for a New Generation" by Liana Krissoff and wondered with all the international recipes it contained how long it would take to find their presence in cyberspace.
If you would like to dedicate a book, please visit www.gwinnettpl.org and click "support your library." Or if there is a book you want to buy, click "shop here" and a portion of your purchase will go to the library. Either way, your presence "on paper" will give joy to many.
Susan Larson is a writer who lives in Lilburn. Email her at email@example.com.