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The Gifts of Reading

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,359 ratings  ·  212 reviews
In this luminous essay, Robert Macfarlane reflects on the unique emotional resonance of books given and received - and how such gifts have shaped his own life.
Paperback, 34 pages
Published June 16th 2016 by PENGUIN GROUP (first published 2016)
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Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,359 ratings  ·  212 reviews

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Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quite-good
It’s taken me far too long to write a simple review for this short but enjoyable essay. It’s about the friendships we make through books and how books can transport us. It speaks about reading as a gift and there’s even a few good recommendations from the author.

Did it really have to take me that long to write that? Of course not! I was just overthinking it as usual! Anyway, I’d highly recommend anyone who likes to read (aka, you) to give this a go.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story, like so many stories, begins with a gift. The gift, like so many gifts, was a book...

I'm baffled at how quotable this tiny little book is!

I don't usually read essays. They're as far from my normal reading tastes as you can get. But my friend TS fired straight and couldn't have chosen a better initiation! :)

The act of giving encourages the onwards circulation of generosity.

This book was very special in more than one way and deeply moved me. For one, I receive
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hiking, walking, book
Very short essay. About the value of gifts, especially when it comes to books about walking. I did not know Robert Macfarlane, but when I noticed that he was a walking fanatic, I immediately put his other works on my To-read list. This book just is a charming, short read.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it
A nice read, though low-impact. Mostly it's given me a few more suggestions to add to my TBR.
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘The gift that, when it comes, speaks commandingly to the soul and irresistibly moves us’.

Not what I expected. A tale of friendships, all over the giving and receiving of books.
As if I needed an excuse to give books :0)
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This brief essay was printed as a stand-alone pamphlet in aid of the Migrant Offshore Aid Station. Macfarlane begins by remembering Don, a fellow English teacher he met in China in 2000 who plied him with books by some of the authors who would later serve as models for his own lyrical nature/travel writing, including Annie Dillard and Patrick Leigh Fermor. Fermor’s A Time of Gifts is now one of the five books he gives most often as presents. Don’s friendship, the love of literature they shar ...more
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
My daughter picked up this short and sweet essay when we visited the “Shakespeare and Company” bookstore in Paris.

It’s a small booklet that was sold near the cashier, the sort of booklet that you pick up on a whim. The beautiful cover artwork caught our eye as well. This touching book is something that almost any book lover already knows: how lovely it is to give books as gifts and to receive them also.
"Reading kept him alive right till the end"
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully poignant essay about the importance of books and the natural world.

5 stars.

TS Chan
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Short and sweet, this essay will resonate with book lovers who have made friends through books, and who love to give and receive them. It also made me add A Time of Gifts and The Living Mountain into my want-to-read list. ...more
Thijs Joores
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, owned
small but lovely gift <3 ...more
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2016
This story, like so many stories, begins with a gift. That gift, like so many gifts, was a book…

Most people love receiving presents, but for me the best present to receive is a book. A well-chosen book opens up a world of possibilities, it is something that can be treasured for ages and can have a resonance between giver and receiver. In this essay, Macfarlane extolls the deep significance of giving and receiving books as he recalls receiving The Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor from Don, a
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a little great gift. And now I have to go and buy some 20 of these to give out to some great people who love books and gifts, and especially - book gifts.
Bilan M. Atayaah
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"This is a beautiful double-proposition: that art enlarges our repertoire for being, and that it further enables a giving onwards of that enriched utterance, that broadened perception"

Stunning lil pamphlet, made me feel so much! Reading is truly the most giving gift.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: january-2019
Beautiful, heartfelt, and moving. Had this been an extended essay, and not such a short standalone piece, I probably would have given it 5 stars.
John Anthony
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
A lovely reflective read on reading. A homage to Patrick Leigh Fermor and in particular his book A Time of Gifts. An appreciation of the author's friend and mentor Don with whom he taught English Literature in Beijing, according to Mao. Thanks to Don, they survived to continue to enjoy reading and appreciate the gifts which books bring.
Callum McLaughlin
Nov 19, 2018 rated it liked it
A simple but resonant anecdotal essay about the joy of books both given and received, and the power they have to inspire, transform, and perhaps even sustain lives.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: brace2019
A small essay about the joy that giving and receiving books brings into our lives.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Adeeb by: BookishDubai
You know how you have these stories about what it means to be human? About looking at the smallest things in your life? By taking those into just feel so utterly alive and become a better person?

This is such a story. This book isn't a work of fiction. It's a reflective essay about the meaning of gifts, specifically the gifts of reading.

What is a gift? How can reading and books bundle up into a gift? Is it just the act of giving someone a book, or is it that emotional connecti
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
3 / 5 stars

I have been thinking about gift giving a lot lately, what with sustainability on the rise for a couple of years now, and the will to make conscious choices as well. Last christmas, before buying this essay (and actually gifting it to two of my closest friends, readers luckily), i made the decision to stop buying gifts simply for the sake of having something to give. i always try to give gifts with meaning and most often, to me, these gifts end up being books. there are so many people
Sarah83 sbookshelf
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a cute story about reading and gifting books to others.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essay
'... the gift can be transformative and {that} the act of giving encourages the onwards circulation of generosity.'
A very small and deeply moving story about gifting books and, along with them, gifting love, unique experiences and perhaps a newly found passion. I bought this little book whilst in Edinburgh and read it sitting on a park in a rare sunny day while dealing with some personal turbulent emotions, so I have to admit that it did give me a new perspective on things. It was an enjoyable read and I'm bound to return to it in the near future.
J Name
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inspiration for anyone which is inexcusable to ignore

This short book I hope finds its way to many people's lives. It moved me so much. I read this the same day I rewatched The Color of Pomegranates for the first time (its power still held up!). This small book really floored me with it's messages on gift giving, reading, writing, human spirit, life and loss. Some of the best nonfiction I've read.
Wahyu Novian
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This brief essay makes me rethink the acts of giving. I do think so hard when I want to give someone a book for (I hope) they’ll like it and stay forever with them. Such a lovely tiny book(let).
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This short essay -- just 34 pages of text in A6 format -- is a paean or hymn to reading, giving, and books. In fact, one book in particular which he was given as a present, Patrick Leigh Fermor's A Time of Gifts. Macfarlane then uses this as a springboard to discourse on what moves him: teaching, talking and travelling, companionship, landscape and nature.

I can't begin to grasp or comprehend all that the author has read, visited or achieved but there is no doubting that the writer of last year's
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
"The outcome of a gift is uncertain at the time of giving, but the fact that it has been given charges it with great potential to act upon the recipient for the good."

This was brilliant. Utterly brilliant. I picked this up completely on a whim and I don't think I've ever felt so much emotion within the pages of an essay this short. I'll admit freely, that when I finished these 34 pages, I cried. I don't think I've ever read something that has impacted me so much. I felt as though I was taken on
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
A beautiful meditation on the power and value of gifts, especially when those gifts are stories. It's a tiny little essay, so small the spine has no writing on it, but it was the perfect length to read just before I drifted off to sleep.

I had tears in my eyes by the final page, there was so much love and generosity in the pages. A vivid reminder to continue to give books I loved away and share them with those I love. I've made a pile already to share, and I think I will reread this little volum
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
3.0 Stars.

This essay makes me want to gift people books again, even though it’s mostly a waste because I’m surrounded by non-readers. Apart from that, I don’t feel this essay was offering an abundance of depth, but I guess that wasn’t the aim anyway. I’d say its focus lay on the simple, magical, sometimes life-changing pleasure of a bookish gift.
What a perfect book to start the year with! I'm definitely going to share and gift more books this year.
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Robert Macfarlane is a British nature writer and literary critic.

Educated at Nottingham High School, Pembroke College, Cambridge and Magdalen College, Oxford, he is currently a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and teaches in the Faculty of English at Cambridge.

Robert Macfarlane is the author of prize-winning and bestselling books about landscape, nature, people and place, including Mountain

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