In My Opinion

Ana Veciana-Suarez: Books, the gift that keeps on giving


I give books. For birthdays. For Christmas. For baby showers and retirement parties. Even for those you-need-a-little-cheer days that pop up randomly.

I give them because they are one of life’s great treasures. More than a gift of paper, ink and binding, the present of a book spells a quick and satisfying escape, a door to an unknown world, the joy of solitude and, also in equal measure, the sweet sharing with like-minded readers.

I cannot think of another tangible item — not the feel of a silk dress, not the smell of a new car, not the taste of a dark chocolate truffle (which is saying a lot) — that provides me such pleasure. Perhaps that is why I told my family, a family comprised of number crunchers and stethoscope wearers, that I wanted to be a writer when I could barely draft a paragraph.

Imagine possessing the power of persuasion, the ability to create entire universes peopled with flawed, interesting characters! I laugh now at the blind brazenness of such hope.

I discovered books — rather, the wonder of reading — when I was in second grade, as I struggled with a new and undecipherable language, the language that would afford me a good living decades later. Those ant-sized letters that marched down the page with the certainty of avenging angels turned into words that shaped into sentences that created paragraphs that grew into stories that sneaked into my soul and stole my quivering, impressionable heart.

They’re tugging at it still, those delightful stories, pinching the tender spots, nicking the scars and calluses, but also lifting that heart, everywhere and always. When I enter a bookstore or a library, the special musty smell of paper, so welcoming, so familiar, is enough to send me spiraling back to the cramped public library of my early childhood, now an urban building that houses the Miami offices of Avon products. Back then, before Twitter and YouTube and Facebook, before the instant gratification of tablets and smart phones, there was the slow, slippery immersion into plot, into character, into the lyricism of thoughts simultaneously resting and taking flight on the enchanted rectangle of a page.

There still is that immersion, that satisfaction. I know this to be true even as others bemoan the death of print and lament the muscling in of digital, of Google Books and a host of other technologies turning the world of words topsy turvy. Maybe I remain optimistic because I know our need for stories will never cease and that information is the most viable currency of our culture.

These days I’m fortunate to witness the magic of literary encounters with my granddaughters. At a year old, the youngest maps out new territory with all her senses. She tastes, rubs and sniffs her books with glorious abandon. The 2-year-old outlines each letter with a stubby finger, awed by the journey. The 4-year-old turns the page with the authority of the converted, inventing a story to match the pictures.

And the twin kindergartners? Lucky them, they’re old enough to sound out vowels and consonants, practically singing through the rhythm and melody of a sentence.

“This,” I recently told them, opening a copy of the P.D. Eastman 1961 classic, Go, Dog. Go! “was your father’s favorite book when he was about your age."

They took turns reading.

“A green dog over a tree,” recited one. And the other: “A yellow dog under a tree.”

Ah, the call and response of a soul searching new shores. That is why I give books.

Read more Ana Veciana Suarez stories from the Miami Herald

  • In My Opinion

    #ThrowbackThursday, #FlashbackFriday: Nostalgia that keeps us grounded

    I’m not one to indulge in nostalgia, yet I’m intrigued by all those old pictures that keep popping up in my social media feeds. You know the ones — pre-digital photos that are stamp-dated by bouffant hairdos and bushy sideburns. Photos that, before they were uploaded and posted, tagged and shared, were stripped from a yellowing page of an ancient scrapbook.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">ATTRACTING ATTENTION:</span> In its new ad campaign, Dear Kate features prominent tech women posing in its bras and panties. The collection is called the Ada Collection, named after the mathematician Ada Lovelace who wrote the first algorithm back in the 1800s.

    In My Opinion

    Ana Veciana-Suarez: Underwear ads do nothing to empower tech women

    The advertising photos are meant to be empowering, feminist even, a thumb-in-the-eye response to the well-documented sexism of the tech world. Yet, I glance at these beautiful and beautifully talented women posing in their skivvies and think, This ain’t the way to get respect, sisters.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">MOMENTS BEFORE TRAGEDY:</span> A  video  shows the girl, in pink shorts and braided ponytail, with her hands clutched around the grip of the submachine gun.

    In My Opinion

    Ana Veciana-Suarez: A 9-year-old with an Uzi? That’s crazy

    There is nothing, absolutely nothing logical or sensible or worthwhile in having a 9-year-old learn to use an Uzi. No reason, none whatsoever, for a child to handle a fully automatic gun.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category