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The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love, and Lit

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  220 ratings  ·  64 reviews
THE GIFT OF A BOOK BECOMES PART OF THE STORY OF YOUR LIFE. Perhaps it came with a note as simple as “This made me think of you,” but it takes up residence in your heart and your home. The Books They Gave Me is a mixtape of stories behind books given and received. Some of the stories are poignant, some snarky, some romantic, some disastrous—but ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Atria Books
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Beth Sniffs Books
I books about books, so when I spied THE BOOKS THEY GAVE ME as a $5 bargain book, I couldn't pass it up. However, while the premise is charming, the contents didn't live up to my expectations.

The "true stories" inside definitely are a mixed bag in terms of writing quality and and personal interest. However, Jen Adams' introduction was great and I would have enjoyed reading more by her on this or other book-ish topics.

And while I do enjoy re-reading books, this one is one that I won't be reading
Mar 26, 2013 Stacey added it
A very good friend gave me this book for a recent birthday. We have recommended / loaned / gifted / discussed many books throughout the years and this was yet another that I really enjoyed. (I still remember when she handed me a little book with a yellow cover - Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction by J.D. Salinger - in a faraway land telling me, "I think you'll like it." It immediately became and has stayed my favorite for the past fifteen years.)

This book contains
This book is fascinating. You can sit down and just read one, flipping through randomly, or you can get absorbed for hours in both these people's memories and your own. If books are part of your life, you want this book. And you'll want to give one to every book lover on your list. Adam's came up with an amazing project that has now become an amazing book (with the possibility of more editions in a couple of years, according to her blog). This is a treasure about treasures, and a celebration of ...more
This is such a wonderful gift for bibliophiles, a chronicle of books people have been given: some are funny, some are poignant, and some are sad, but all will resonate with the reader. Plus each account has a picture of the book described, a nice touch. I loved it!
Kelly Hager
This is the perfect book for readers. People emailed Adams and told her which book gift was the most significant and why. Some of the stories are sweet and some are sad and some are just almost baffling.

This book appealed to me on two levels. The first, obviously, is that few things give me greater joy than talking about books or reading about books. :) I loved reading about which books were most valuable to people and why.

The second is the part of me that loves things like PostSecret and The Ti
Every year lists are published informing people which books they should buy for the readers in their lives. Inevitably, these lists are clueless. "If your daughter likes to read, give her THE HUNGER GAMES!" they say, as if anyone who reads young adult novels hasn't already read THE HUNGER GAMES or made a conscious decision not to. And no, the reader in your life does not want a journal. Everybody and their dog has given them a journal as a gift. Just stop. What you should buy for the reader in y ...more
Mary (BookHounds)

BOOK PORN. Plain and simple, this is as good as it gets for us book lovers. If you enjoy reading Post Secret and really want to know why someone gifted a certain book or why that person enjoyed it or hated it, this is your peek into that their thinking. I love reading stuff like this. There is a wide range of emotions, everything from "why did I get this" to "this means so much". Much like The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, this is one you can pick up and read whenever
Book Him Danno
This is a book about books. Books that people have been given and how their lives were changed or touched by these books. I enjoyed reading about the different books, especially the ones I had read and how they affected their lives.

I was given the book, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, when I was younger by my Aunt Pat. I loved that book and read it every night until I had every poem there memorized. This book really opened my eyes to the funny things that people say, do and other pe
Ahhh, books about books...Just picked this little book up at the Library and devoured it in an hour. I found the glimpses into the lives of these people and the books they love, or hate, fascinating. All the books were given as gifts, mostly from significant others or family and came to define a moment in time for the recipient. Some were funny, others touching, almost all were interesting for one reason or another. Other than the voyeuristic quality of the book, I enjoyed that I got a few more ...more
Quirky spit of a book that I picked up on the title alone at a great indie bookstore, Bartleby's Books in Vermont.

This is one of those books that began as a blog and somehow found it's way to bookshelves. Jen Adams collected hundreds of stories of the origin of the gift of a book. Some are funny, some heartbreaking and frankly, some I didn't get at all.

Taken alone as snapshot essays, with author, title, you might find some new books to read here. I don't think that is the author's intent however
Nov 30, 2012 Susan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: adult
I picked this book off the " new reads" section at the library. It is a fast read because it is a compilation of some blog where readers wrote about books they had been given. It was a good end of year book, because it gave me some ideas for books to try in 2013 as well as made me think back on past books I have enjoyed. I especially liked one response to the book "The Silmarillion" by Tolkien when the reader said, "It occupied me for a month or so. It gave me things to think about, as it had my ...more
I struggled with how to rate this book. It's probably more of a 3.5, but it's not a 4--hence my rating (since Goodreads doesn't allow half ratings).
Reading other people's stories of how they received books from others, I was intrigued about not just the meanings behind the gifts, but how the recipients viewed their gifts.
I was hoping that, being the reader I am, that I might get a new book idea or two. Sadly, of all the books listed, only 1 perked my interest. (For the record, I've only read 26
Delightful book given to me by my "bestest" reading buddy, made it a delightful "read" for me. Again, a completely different format for me, it was written in blog form, short descriptions of books given to different readers at different times in their lives and why the books are still on their shelves. I was amazed at how many of the books were given by readers who had received the books from past loves; lots of broken relationships with books that keep the memories alive. I will have this on my ...more
Sandra Stiles
This book is unique because it is a collection of 200 stories from 2oo people. Each story showcases a book they were given by someone and the connection they had to that person and the book. These stories came from the author’s website called This book doesn’t have to be read cover to cover in one setting. Instead this is the kind of book you pick up and read a few at a time. As you read about the books that others have received and the emotion, connection or thoughts tha ...more
Aminah  Hanan
A book about the books that impacted readers lives, a book like this can do wrong. Great read.
What a fabulous find of a book! Short and compelling insights into people's lives revolving round the gift of a book. Coincidentally, mine given to me by a friend I dare call one of my soulmates. I really thought I had uncovered all the kindred spirits I was to have in my life but she appeared one day resting under a book tree and we have bookends ever since. I have to forgive her love of football and she my dislike of pink, but we are just two characters that stepped out of a book at the same t ...more
Luciana Darce
Descobri esse livro em uma de minhas inúmeras visitas à Cultura – fui buscar um presente que ia dar para outra pessoa e enquanto procuravam minha encomenda para entrega, eu vasculhava com os olhos a estante mais próxima do atendimento ao consumidor, que era a de crítica literária.

A princípio, minha atenção ficou presa à fileira de Eco que havia por lá – mas todas eram obras que eu já possuía em minha estante e meus olhos começaram a passear nos títulos seguintes até que bateram em The Books They
Miriam Downey
Read my full review here: http://mimi-cyberlibrarian.blogspot.c...

Last month I had a significant birthday. Several people gave me books as presents. My long time friend gave me Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight for me to review. A book-selling sister-in-law gave me The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, and a soul friend gave me The Healing Power of the Sacred Woman by Christine Page for my spiritual journey. My sister gave me I'm Too Young to Be Seventy by Judith Viors
I know this the sort of book I am supposed to say I loved. It's a book about books, so a serious reader should love it, right? Except that I didn't.

The writing, often coming from English majors, no less, was often so confusing I couldn't follow it.

Many of the stories were sweet and I loved those. A few were sad and I loved them too- for their writing, not for their sadness.

There were a lot of stories here about relationships and how they didn't work out, and how those involved didn't share th
This is a nice little book (based on a blog) with a very simple premise: It is a book about books and the memories and feelings they inspire in the folks who are gifted them. Active members of this site will surely identify with many of these tales, in fact, some of them were probably written by Goodreads members (there actually is one story written by someone who was given a life-altering book for free via Goodreads, so three cheers for free advertisement.)

I questioned the validity of some of
Emily Schutte
This was a compilation of stories that readers submitted telling of a book they received and who they got it from. Some were very sweet and thought provoking. Many were- he gave me a copy of Zombie Apocolypse *or some other very bad book for Valentine's Day- I should have realized our relationship was doomed then-instead of sticking it out two more years type stories. Several were a book that someone got as a child from a beloved relative. One gal gave her boyfriend a book that he was always say ...more
Kathleen Kelly
The Books They Gave Me is a collection of stories from 200 people and the books they were given by others. Some of the stories are sad as they are about not only the book they were given but failed relationships, poignant because they tug at the heartstrings. To me my collection of books is an extension of myself and who I am so I could definitely relate to the feelings that these people put into their stories. Jen Adams certainly had an awesome idea when she established her website called TheBo ...more
Today, I finished my book club selection for the month: The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love and Lit by Jen Adams. At first, I wasn't sure I would like it, which I didn't. I LOVED it! It was full of stories about people receiving books as gifts. I loved it for the stories the people told about the occasions surrounding the giving of the books. They were both personal and charming. However, most of all, I loved the descriptions of the books. We made a special trip to a wonderful boo ...more
Full disclosure: I'm one of the contributors to this fine collection.
But that doesn't mean I'm biased. I would love this collection just as much without my contribution popping up next to two other wonderfully related (except marvelously different) tales. It's all about the joy/pain/nostalgia/heartbreak/happiness/love/sorrow/communion-with-another-person that comes from giving (and receiving) a book. Not just any book but a book that is then forever locked in time and space to a particular mome
When I first looked into this book I thought it was going to be more of a collection of fairly long stories, which was why I was surprised when the longest story was 2 pages. For me, this was slightly detracting since I could not really enjoy each account since there was not much to them. However, I will admit, I fell in love with many of the tales. Romantic, funny, or sweet, this book has tons of dogears marking the stories I will reread in the future. If you want a book, a tale with character ...more
You could easily mistaken this for a "bathroom book" but it's so much more than that. I stumbled upon this tiny thing while perusing the NEW shelves at my local library. Being a huge fan of literature, it caught my eye and I had to scoop it up. Jen Adams is as clever as they come. Collecting short stories about books that have been given to people is so simple, yet genius. I fell into these personal snippets and then wanted to go check out the books that were mentioned. It was fascinating to lea ...more
A collection of short quips about stories that were given to the authors. The reasons they liked or didn't like the stories given to them are at times hilarious, and at times heartbreaking. I thought that Jen Adams introduction was wonderful and I would like to read more by her. She certainly has a grip on what it means to be a fan of books. I could never have stated my love of books as well as she did. She said everything I would want to say if I could use my words as well as Ms. Adams obviousl ...more
A book about books for people who love books? Of course I'm going to read that. The Books They Gave Me by Jen Adams is a collection of 200 stories. Every book lover out there, take a look at your collection. I'm sure a lot of your books have a story behind them. A book can remind you of so many things. A happy memory. A sad memory. A good relationship. And...a bad relationship. Sometimes you are forever tied to those memories and to the books.

Read the rest of my review at: http://www.asiturnthe
The Books They Gave Me is interesting book made up of short stories by book lovers. Since book lovers are usually language lovers as well, the stories are often insightful and beautifully written. The subject matter focuses more on relationships than the books themselves, which was a little disappointing, and some of the stories veer into pretension and self-indulgence, but on the whole, it was a good read. The book is also beautifully designed, which is nice to see since so many of the stories ...more
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Bucknell University 2012

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