The Gifts of Reading

The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane

Introduced by Emma Balch

I am just back in Hay after a few days in London. I visited several independent bookshops and noticed a trend in the new book market for small format, pocket books. I like them very much – they’re priced at £2-2.50 and are beautifully produced. I bought a couple.

The first was The Gift of Reading by Robert Macfarlane. Commissioned by the Bookseller’s Association to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Independent Bookshop Week. It was published by Penguin and is on sale exclusively in indy bookshops.


In just 5000 words, Robert Macfarlane covers the themes of travel and reading, the importance and value of giving and receiving books through a personal story. In the essay he explores how every book is a kind of gift to its reader, and how the act of giving books has “a special emotional resonance”. He tells the story of a book he was given as a young man, and how he managed eventually to return the favour, though never repay the debt.

So here it is, my favourite short read of the week, The Gifts of Reading, on the bookshelf on the beam at Pottery Cottage. I highly recommend it – and it’s just £2.50, from all good independent bookshops.




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