Guest Post - "An Unforgettable Book Gift" by Ellie Alexander
An Unforgettable Book Gift: The Dreaming
I first read The Dreaming by Barbara Wood in college. It completely captured me and transported me to the Australian Outback in the nineteenth century where Joanna Drury follows her dreamlines to a remote sheep farm on her quest to break a curse that has plagued the women in her family for generations. Australia had called to me since childhood, but after reading Wood’s sweeping historical tale of the clash of cultures, the Aboriginal peoples’ deep connect to earth, and one woman’s struggle to connect her future and past, I knew I had to travel to the Southern Hemisphere and experience it for myself. And, I did. Two years later, with the well-worn pages of the book tucked into my carry-on bag, I ventured to Australia to see the dusty wind-swept arid plains for myself and follow my own dreamlines.
After college and a few moves, I lost my tattered copy of the paperback. Maybe I loaned it to a friend who forgot to return it, or maybe it accidentally ended up in a donation box. Either way, the book vanished and sadly went out of print. Anytime I ventured into a used bookstore, I would weave through the stacks in hopes of finding another copy. I searched in vain for years, unsuccessful in my quest.
Then, one Valentine’s Day, my husband handed me a pretty little package wrapped in pink paper. I was surprised because we had agreed not to exchange gifts. We were in the process of buying our first house and saving every penny. He promised that the gift wasn’t expensive. I gave him my best side-eye as I unwrapped the package to reveal a copy of The Dreaming. I’m sure my mouth must have dropped open as I asked him how he’d found the book. This was in the days before you could find anything online with the click of a few fingers. He confessed that he’d been searching for the book along with me, and found a very well loved copy at a used bookstore halfway across the country for less than three dollars.
That copy sits on my bookshelf today. I’ve never re-read the book. In part, because I want to hold on to my memory of reading it for the first time in circa 1990 something. Our reading tastes change and evolve and I don’t want to lose the magic of getting lost in its pages many years ago. But, the book also sits front and center as a reminder that the best gifts come from the heart. My copy of The Dreaming is my favorite gift of all time. Not because it was expensive, but because of the thought my husband put into tracking down a book I’d been looking for in bookstores large and small for years. The sweet gesture of finding the book for me rivals the epic saga Barbara Wood penned. Proof that books make the best gifts!
Ellie Alexander writes the Bakeshop and Sloan Krause Mystery Series. When not writing, you can find her testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouse or brewpubs nearby. You’ll also find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of “research”.
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