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Give a Read: On Reading Books Your Loved Ones Love

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Recently, someone very close to me asked for a very specific gift for her birthday.

If you guessed a book, you’d be right.

But she didn’t want it for herself. She wanted it for me. She wanted me to read it because she’d just finished it, and it’d left her with that rare feeling you get after turning the last page: this book totally gets me.

And she wanted me to get her, too.

It’s really beautiful, if you think about it. It’s the reason writers write and readers read: we all just want to be understood. Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give someone is not the book that’ll change their life, it’s reading that book along with them.

I’d tell you the book that was requested of me, but I know it’s so personal she’d rather I keep it between the two of us. Which is fine because between the two of us is enough. Reading it helped me step into her shoes. It helped me understand some of the things she’s been going through. It’s opened us up to conversations we needed to have, but didn’t know how to approach.

Now, aside from the TBR lists of books that I’ve been dying to read for myself, I’ve started creating a list of books that I want to read for others. Like my husband’s favorite, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. Or one of my cousin’s favorite short stories, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Leguin.

What books would you add to a List of Books You’ll Read For Others?