Today’s Booking through Thursday (and yes, the Marsha suggested therein is me!):

Suggested by Marsha:

Buy a Friend a Book Week is October 1-7 (as well as the first weeks of January, April, and July). During this week, you’re encouraged to buy a friend a book for no good reason. Not for their birthday, not because it’s a holiday, not to cheer them up–just because it’s a book.

What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?

There are three books that I’ve given to people with some regularity. One is The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I’ve read this one in the original French and in English, and I’m pleased to say that this lovely tale about innocence and imagination and love translates remarkably well.

Another is The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. From the first sentence (“There was once a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself–not just sometimes, but always”) to the end, it’s filled with clever wordplay, memorable characters, imagination, and humor. I love this book.

Unlike the first two choices, the third is one that most people don’t know, I think, and therefore one that I’m most likely to give these days. (In fact, it’s in the prize package for the blog-birthday contest I’m running right now. My own responses are here, if you’re curious.) It’s The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono, the tale (some say it’s true, though Giono says it’s not–the public’s insistence that it must be true is, I think, testament to how eagerly people want to believe in something good) of a man in Provence, France, who pretty much singlehandedly reforested the region by planting acorns every day during the first half of the twentieth century.

I love this book because of its optimism about how much good a single person can do and because of its encouragement to fill one’s life with meaning. I also love this book because, well, I love trees. They’re central to my doctoral research (on the so-called timber wars of the U.S. Pacific Northwest), so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about them intellectually and professionally. And I’m reminded of them every day in my personal life: my husband (also a tree lover) and I named our daughter Sylvia.

8 Responses to “Friendship”

  1. heather (errantdreams)on 27 Sep 2007 at 11:10 am

    I can see why people would want to believe that story: the idea that you can make a large difference by doing something so tiny each day is very delicious.

  2. Pshortenon 27 Sep 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Are you still working on your doctorate? How neat!

  3. Marshaon 27 Sep 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Heather: “Delicious” is a great word to describe it!

    Pat: If by “working on” you mean “avoiding,” then yes, I am!

  4. Katie Jon 28 Sep 2007 at 12:16 am

    Love the “buy a friend a book” for no reason. I haven’t read any of those three books, so I better get crackin’!

  5. knittymamaon 28 Sep 2007 at 4:42 pm

    What a great idea, but wow, what a tough choice!

  6. Cereal Girlon 28 Sep 2007 at 11:22 pm

    I must agree with your first two choices. The third has me intrigued. I like all things French & I’m always keen for a positive environmental story so I may just have to check it out…

  7. Emmaon 30 Sep 2007 at 2:53 pm

    I’ve read and quite enjoyed The Man Who Planted Trees, too! That would be a great book-gift.

  8. heatherlyon 02 Oct 2007 at 11:28 am

    i love buy a friend a book week! how cool!