Just warning  you, this will be a rambling post.

One of my nieces (actually she’s my husband’s cousin’s daughter) just called me this afternoon, out of the blue, and excitedly thanked me for the Eid gift. She said she almost had tears in her eyes she was so happy with what I’d given her!

This is kind of unusual.

I saw her on Eid day, two weeks ago, and I handed her gift bag full of books, and she kissed my cheek like she usually does and said thanks and that’s usually more than enough.

She’s a college girl, but I’ve always felt very close to her since I used to babysit her, and she’d be embarrassed to hear me say I even helped toilet train her!!! Her and her cousin, although I quit babysitting by the time her little sister was born. (Actually not so little any more! They both tower over me!)

But she felt the need to actually call me and thank me, and it was because I had somehow, intuitively, given her EXACTLY what she wanted!

She was yearning to read To Kill a Mockingbird and yup, there was a copy of that as well as Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

Ever since they were young I would give them books for Eid.

But one year when they were still little, the blank look on their faces discouraged me so the next year I got them something else. But it was their parents who told me, “No, please. Give them the books.”

I said, “But they look so disappointed on Eid day when they open it.”

But my husband’s cousin said, “But when they take a look at them later, they love them!”

So I continued to give them books. And especially this niece, she’s a huge reader! She has fallen in love with many of my choices!

I was the one who got her Mara, Daughter of the Nile. After that she fell in love with ancient Egypt.

Sometimes I wonder if she and the others would even read very much at all if it weren’t for the thought I’d taken into choosing the exact right book to give them.

They were always books I had read, and kind of like when I think of the personality of a character in my novels, I’d think of their personalities and choose the books accordingly, and apparently, Allahu alim, but it seems I hit the mark many times!

Mind you, she has yet to read the copies of No Great Mischief by Alistair Macleod, and Watership Down  I gave her. I’m almost to the point of nagging her to reassure her they’re worth her time!

I only just got my son to finally read Watership Down. Can’t wait till he finishes it so we can talk about it!

The thing about No Great Mischief is that it’s actually signed by the author! I met him in Vancouver, bought the book because it was supposed to be his best, had won some huge Dublin award, and I absolutely loved it, even though it’s not my typical cup of tea!

It’s one of those books that is just so beautifully written, it’s like every word has a taste that lingers on your tongue, and makes you savor! And it’s even more special because it’s signed, and Alistair Macleod died not long ago.

As soon as I gave it to her, I thought, oh geez, now I need to buy another copy! I need another one for my own bookshelf!

Yeah, so I’m kind of the book aunt. And every year I’ve been giving the kids in the family books. And the funny thing is, even the ones who are not great readers, have of their own volition, come up to me and thanked me for the books!

That surprised me!

At least five of them have! Wow! And I could tell they really meant it because of the surprised looks on their parents’ faces. They were definitely not set up to do that!

Makes me feel really really good!

Like the time I went to visit a friend in Saudi Arabia, and I happened to take a package of peanut M&M’s along as a gift (can’t go empty-handed) and the friend’s husband’s face just lit up in a HUGE grin! And she turned to me and said, “How did you know that these are my husband’s favorite candy???”

I didn’t. But oh, the pleasure I felt in giving him something he’d savor with every sip of his tea (he’d crunch peanut M&M’s with a cup of tea) was probably way more than the pleasure he’d get in enjoying them.

It just feels so good to give someone a gift like that!!!

And doubly so when it comes to books and young people!

And there’s even a bit of fate involved, as in that kid was meant to receive that book at that moment!

On another completely unrelated note, I finally finished my book talk/tutorial for King for a Day

Ta Da! Here it is:

They’re getting a LOT easier!