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December 13, 2009


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In this touching piece about a surprising and meaningful gift from her husband, Amy Bloom --- author of AWAY and whose latest collection of short stories, WHERE THE GOD OF LOVE HANGS OUT, hits stores next month --- illustrates how the books people enjoy can often act as reflections of their character.

Amy's new book won't be available in stores until January 11th, but you can download a sample story at a low price from here.

When I was a child, printed matter flowed into my house like water: magazines, three newspapers a day, library books by the wagonload (I had a little red wagon and trundled it through the library once a week), my father's crazy journals of the paranormal (in which everything had a greenish glow and levitated), and his stacks of Playboy magazines, which sat right next to the aliens from outer space and gave me even more to think about. The books themselves were gifts (LITTLE WOMEN, MY ANTONIA, A TALE OF TWO CITIES) but if anyone ever gave me one --- and I’m sure my parents did --- I don't remember.

My only true Christmas book-gift came a few years ago. I had fallen in love, embarrassingly late in life, embarrassingly fast, and he and I were standing in a bookstore, buying gifts for everyone in our Chrismukkah continuum. We had talked out our differences, which were so numerous, it was amazing we'd ever crossed paths, let alone fallen in love --- but we knew, the way you know that the baby's coming, or that the ship has sailed, that we would marry. I handed him a book of Jane Kenyon's poems and he read a few, charmed and moved. A good sign, I thought. He picked up THE COLLECTED POEMS OF WISLAWA SZYMBORSKA, flipped through a few pages, and began to read. He put his packages down. He sat down on the floor. I had never said, “She is my absolute favorite poet, if I must choose among all the poets I love and admire.” He sat there, big handsome man, tears streaming down his face while reading my favorite of favorites, "Allegro ma non troppo," which begins, “Life, you're beautiful, (I say)…” Szymborska creates such a realistic, compassionate world of love and life and loss held by her witty way with language that it squeezes my heart every time. He read, there in the store, for a half hour.

He gave it to me at Christmas Eve, when we have Seven Fishes and fill stockings, and we got married in September and the book is on my nightstand still.

-- Amy Bloom

This evening, Kristin Hannah joins us with a recollection of a favorite book from childhood, and the joy she felt in passing it on to her young son.