My Best Book Gift Ever
Recently I was asked a question: What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a present and why was it so special? When Dani invited me to share here on her blog, I thought I’d tell you the story of My Best Book Gift Ever.
A Christmas Gift
Once upon a Christmas, when I was twelve years old (already an avid reader and able to claim the title of fiction writer too), I received that classic novel by Catherine Marshall, Christy, as a present from my grandmother, who didn’t know me well because we lived on opposite coasts and visits had been rare. I’d never heard of Catherine Marshall or Christy. To my pre-teen eyes the book seemed dauntingly long, set in some obscure rural location in the Appalachians I’d never thought about, in a time period that had never interested me—the early 1900s. My reading interests were rather narrow at that age, confined to dog stories and stories about wilderness survival that included lots of animals, peril, and perhaps Native Americans. Christy didn’t seem to promise any of those things.
I guess it’s no surprise I didn’t read the book. It lived on my bookshelf for a couple of years before one day, perhaps feeling guilty, or curious, or just on a whim (I really don’t remember why) I took it down, opened its pages, and started to read. I was fourteen by then and had developed different tastes in reading. I’d discovered those Sunfire historical romances for young adults, after all (Jessica was my favorite)! So this book felt a little like those only… more. Deeper. And so I read, and page by page through Christy I fell in love—with the characters, the mountain setting, the Scottish history woven throughout the tale like mist winding through the hollows of Cutter Gap (thank you, Catherine Marshall, for Dr. Neil MacNeill!).
Perhaps more than anything else about that book, what grabbed me by the heartstrings—and has yet to let go—was that sense of the past nudging up against the present, unwilling to be forgotten, shaping the characters and their choices in a myriad of ways. These elements of Christy have influenced me as a writer; with every book I write I am in part attempting to recapture the magic and immersion I felt while reading Christy.
Because it was a few years after receiving the book before I came to appreciate it, and because that appreciation went so deep, I sent a second—and heartfelt—thank you note to my grandmother three thousand miles away, after which a regular correspondence between us began that would last for the rest of her life. She would become one of my greatest encouragers after I embarked on my writing/publishing journey in my early twenties, never losing faith during my twenty-plus year writing journey that I would one day see a book published. The day my debut novel, Burning Sky, won three Christy Awards (named after the book that awakened so many abiding writerly passions) I imagined my grandmother watching from heaven and smiling at the seeds planted years ago.
Thanks again, Grandma!
The Perfect Gift
With Christmas right around the corner, if you’re having trouble thinking of just the right gift for someone on your list, why not pick a good book? You never know what seeds you might be planting, what course you might be setting, what God might do in the deep places of a soul, in His time, through such a simple act.
Lori is generously giving away both books in the Pathfinders series (together, to one winner), The Wood’s Edge and A Flight of Arrows. Leave a comment answering the question:
"What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a present and why was it so special?"
Lori Benton’s novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal period’s of American history. She is the multiple award-winning author of numerous books including Burning Sky, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, and The Wood’s Edge (Book one in the Pathfinders series). Lori makes her home in Oregon where she enjoys wandering the mountains with her camera (and posting the results on Instagram) as often as she can manage to do so.