Monday, February 19, 2007

My vegetable love should grow vaster than empires, and more slow. - Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress"

DoppelGanger over at 50 Books had the brilliant idea of continuing the new year’s listmania by soliciting ideas for other book-related lists which she would then populate with her answers as she saw fit, or was moved, or whatever: see her Big List of Lists. I took the liberty of suggesting some ideas, and was flattered to see she’d selected one of my suggestions. This link will take you to her list of Books a Man Has Given Me That Made Me Swear NEVER to Go on Another Date with Him EVER Again.
And here’s mine, because this idea is such excellent fodder for a book blog that I am going to play right along throughout the year, shamelessly piggybacking on her cleverness.

Books a Man Has (or could have) Given Me That Made Me Swear NEVER to Go on Another Date with Him EVER Again

1. A Bible. I have several of my own, in several translations, thanks, in addition to a copy of the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Book of Mormon. I have no trouble with the Bible itself, indeed, I’ve read it and find it quite interesting on several levels. But anyone who gifts me with a Bible is trying to hint about something which I would rather they just come right out and tell me, so I can explain my scary and traumatizing fundamentalist childhood. And any man who gifts me with a Bible is not getting any – if indeed his religious convictions don’t prevent that anyway.

2. Any of the Chicken Soup for the [insert Soul-type here] books, and any self-help or inspirational books including but not limited to The Purpose-Driven Life, Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, and Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

3. Any Star Trek novelizations, or any sci-fi/fantasy books featuring half-naked women on the front cover of the cheap mass market paperback.

4. Anything by Ernest Hemingway, damn misogynist.

5. Obvious poetry. You know what I mean – Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, Sonnets from the Portuguese, anything by Omar Khayyam. No Lord Byron, and for God’s sake, no Andrew Marvell.

Michael-the-boy-who-broke-my-heart-freshman-year gave me for Valentine’s Day a copy of Robert Fulghum’s Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten - that should have been a giant tip-off, hmmm? If his quoting “To His Coy Mistress” at the drop of a hat wasn’t enough of a sign.

H has given me a couple of books that I can recall, before he finally gave up and just started handing me money earmarked for the bookstore. He has lent or given me Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume, Richard Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar, PD James’ Children of Men, and a couple random mysteries by authors he thought I liked. (Never mind that he was wrong.)

A man I dated briefly gave me for Christmas a copy of Robert Harris’ Fatherland. No idea why, but it was a decent enough book. A dear friend, who happens to be a man, gave me Don DeLillo’s Underworld for my thirtieth birthday, and my younger brother has quite successfully given me books for Christmas almost every year in the past ten.

So a book as a gift is a fine, fine thing, but really only as long as you are not dating me, it seems.


Caro said...

I'd rather a man give me a book than clothes for a present.

At least I can pretend to read a book. :)

Badger said...

So Gerard Manley Hopkins would be right out, then?

Joke said...

What? No Ye Olde Love Sonnettes of L. Ron Hubbard?


Joke said...

P.S. I've always thought that giving someone a book (in terms of content, not talking about giving someone a "better" edition than they already own) was ferociously presumptuous.

hungry in LA said...

This is the moment I admit I dated someone who liked those leather collector's editions that they advertise in places like Parade magazine. He bought me "The Fountainhead" since he thought it was an upgrade from my 1943 edition. At that point I realized we would never have sex.

Sarah Louise said...

I'm pretty careful with books as gifts. I'm wary of folks that give me spiritual books that they themselves have not read.

My dad tends to give me books he hasn't read but that he's read the review for--and 97% of the time, he flops. The one time he scored was when I was in 6th grade and he gave me Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt. All the other years it was stuff like "Miracle at Philadelphia" (sorry if that's someone's favorite...)

A guy I dated once gave me a copy of the Psalms, but he knew it would be a hit b/c he'd seen me fawn over it. It's one of those super duper calligraphy ones. The calligrapher went to CMU for graphic design...

My mom once gave a guy a copy of one of those Norman Vincent Peale books, sort of a way to get rid of him and it backfired, he took it as encouragement.

Yes, giving books can be a dangerous practice.

nutmeg said...

I have to add the dreadful Only Love is Real, that I HAD to read for bookclub recently to your #2!

And nobody attempts to buy me books anymore, besides one of my sisters as she is also a book lover - but even she always has a backup should I have read the one she gave or don't want to ;-)

Anonymous said...

dh gave me The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. I think I'll keep him.