Books, Books, Books / by Helen O'Connor

After giving Dad his birthday book, I was hooked. Suddenly it felt like all occasions were book-worthy occasions.

While still at the London law firm, I wrote and illustrated a book for a close friend’s wedding, crafted a Christmas present for my three-year-old cousin, typed out a tale for my best friend's 30th, and rolled out a 40-page extravaganza for my parents to thank them for a recent trip through Europe – written in full rhyme to keep things interesting. I wrote a story for a friend who'd lost a loved one, and crafted a fake travel guide for my sister's upcoming trip to Barcelona. 

I was worried people would get sick of my handmade presents, but the reactions kept getting better. 

I was beginning to realise that my handmade gifts weren’t being quietly laughed at when I wasn’t in the room – rather, it seemed I was giving people something pretty special.  Something that couldn’t be bought on the way to a party in a moment of last-minute panic. Something to hold on to. To treasure. 

My books were telling my favourite people in the world just how much they meant to me, through the gift of thoughtfulness, the gift of honesty, the gift of respect, and the gift of time. 

My books were saying to people; ‘This is how much I love you. I love you 30 hours of thinking, 20 hours of writing, and 10 hours of illustrating, nearly-losing-my-job much. And then a bit more.’

My books were giving the gift of words.