Once again, we asked authors to write about books they've given or received as gifts. I love this question because it isn't really about recommendations - although it may inspire some. Our favorite gifts bind us to the givers through memory and meaning. With time, these books morph from presents into totems. They are not just vessels to other worlds between the covers, but to other times within our own lives. Here are authors' edited responses.
When I was 14, a relative gave me an SAT prep book for Hanukkah. It was called "500 Essential SAT Words" and it really freaked me out. I didn't know any of the words. Even "essential" was pretty fuzzy. If I wanted to become a writer, I needed to master this book quickly, promptly, expeditiously.