Jesse is my best friend on Earth. We’ve a friendship that has gone back a bit over thirty years. And even though life has separated us, we still talk once a week, to argue politics, talk life or work out new games.
So for Christmas/Hanukkah this year, I decided to pick up a book for him, my vastly-enjoyed The Fencing Master. This is a book recommended by a used book shop owner in London, the note of which I carried in my wallet for over a year. And when I read it… Wow.
You know that sort of book. You open the cover, read the inscription, turn to the first page and feel a crackle beneath your fingers. As you read, you realize that this! is one of those books that you’ll savor, licking the words off the page, basking with the characters, the descriptions, the observations, the twists. And that was The Fencing Master for me.
So I Amazon’ed it to him.
Normally he calls while traveling. Generally he grabs dinner in the hotel then rings me up. This time he was late. I toyed with a game we’re developing, not really paying attention to the time. Finally he calls, breathless. He’d taken the book downstairs with him and finished it at the table, wrapped up in Don Jaime’s final struggle and stunning revelation. It was like he was high, just talking fast and laughing loud, so different from his wry yet reserved manner.
And that’s the moment, beyond finding that perfect book, but sharing that perfect book. I’ve gotten others in the past I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve mentioned finding (and loving) one of my dad’s old favorite short stories in Stories of the Sea. And I enjoyed The Egyptolgist and Tigana, to name a few. Many people have loved Captain Blood on my own recommendation.
And that’s where books top movies, top games, top even love for intimate sharing. Every so often, someone will actually read a book and earnestly thank you. And they will see what you saw, felt what you felt. And for that moment, that internal loneliness all humans grapple with, it goes away.
Keep pressing books. And always accept them.