Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love, and Lit” as Want to Read:
The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love, and Lit
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  246 Ratings  ·  69 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 all are illuminating.

Jen Ada
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Atria Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Books They Gave Me, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Books They Gave Me

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,047)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 29, 2015 Beth rated it it was ok
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
Apr 22, 2013 Carol rated it liked it
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
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
Dec 06, 2015 Norelle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Ļoti, ļoti.
Īsi stāstiņi, kuru stāstītāji un kuros minētās personas nav pat nosauktas vārdos, bet lasot ir tā sajūta, ka caur tiem dažiem teikumiem vai to vienu lappusi, ir ļauts pa atslēgas caurumu ielūkoties šo cilvēku dvēselē.
Laimīgi un mazāk laimīgi stāsti. Stāsti, kuriem gribētos zināt turpinājumu un stāsti, kuri mazliet pavelk uz asariņu. Ļoti dažādi, ļoti personiski.

''Choosing a book to read is an art. There's a magic to it, and when you read the right book at the right time it becomes so
Oct 31, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
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
Nov 28, 2012 Kelly Hager rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 04, 2012 Liviania rated it it was amazing
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)
Dec 31, 2012 Mary (BookHounds) rated it it was amazing

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
Dec 21, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it
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
Nov 30, 2012 Susan rated it liked it
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
Dec 28, 2012 Robyn rated it liked it
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
Dec 07, 2012 Pat rated it really liked it
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
Jan 30, 2013 Alice rated it it was ok
I really wanted to love this book. What could be better than stories about books? Alas, I was disappointed. The selection of essays was repetitive. Too many, IMHO, were from lovers no longer loved; too many involved romances that went sour. It seemed to be one broken heart or man "who done her wrong" after another. The few essays describing books from parent to child, dear friend to dear friend, or beloved teacher to pupil were too few. I love the concept, and perhaps the next edition will have ...more
Amy Paget
Jun 13, 2015 Amy Paget rated it liked it
The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love, and Lit (028.9 B724A 2012) by Jen Adams is a bibliophile’s delight! The book is very well constructed and beautifully designed. The author is a freelance writer and served as a founding contributing editor of Digital Scrapbooking Magazine, She moved to New York to be closer to The Strand. She is at work on a variety of projects, including a zombie novel for middle-grades readers. Following a trend in book publishing, this title extracts some of ...more
Sandra Stiles
Jun 30, 2014 Sandra Stiles rated it really liked it
Shelves: miscellaneous
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
Feb 22, 2013 Megan rated it it was ok
The worst part about this book is how great the premise is. I liked maybe about a quarter of the stories, hence the additional star. But the rest of the vignettes were so packed with obnoxious cliches and literary smugness, I was just glad to be done with it.
Aug 21, 2013 Karl rated it did not like it
A random person gave me a book because we were in love, but then we weren't and I should have realized it because the book they chose sucked.

Sorry, I found this book to be rather useless drivel.
Aminah  Hanan
Nov 27, 2012 Aminah Hanan rated it liked it
A book about the books that impacted readers lives, a book like this can do wrong. Great read.
May 18, 2014 Celena rated it really liked it
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
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Rating = 3.5 stars
Luciana Darce
Feb 03, 2014 Luciana Darce rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
May 28, 2013 Miriam Downey rated it really liked it
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
Jan 06, 2013 Lauren rated it really liked it
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
Jan 25, 2015 Emily Schutte rated it it was ok
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
Aug 17, 2015 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Loved this little book. My only complaint is that it focused heavily on contributions from people who were reflecting on books exchanged during romantic relationships. I enjoyed many of those stories, but I also really liked the relatively few stories about books gifted from parents, children, siblings, teachers, and friends. At any rate, a quick, fun, bittersweet read.
Kathleen Kelly
Dec 04, 2012 Kathleen Kelly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
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
Aug 28, 2013 Barbara rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 02, 2012 Drew rated it it was amazing
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 34 35 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere
  • Who the Hell Is Pansy O'Hara?: The Fascinating Stories Behind 50 of the World's Best-Loved Books
  • The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future
  • Read This!: Handpicked Favorites from America's Indie Bookstores
  • Read This Next: 500 of the Best Books You'll Ever Read
  • One for the Books
  • The Library Book
  • A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict
  • Back to the Best Books
  • Books: A Living History
  • Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Book store
  • A Universal History of the Destruction of Books: From Ancient Sumer to Modern-Day Iraq
  • A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books
  • The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them
  • Living With Books
  • Bibliotopia: Or, Mr. Gilbar's Book of Books & Catch-All of Literary Facts & Curiosities
  • A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books
  • 1001 Books for Every Mood

Share This Book