I'm casting my eye across my bookshelves and trying to come up with something I like, my parents have liked and which I'd pass on to any children I have (assuming there's somebody out there who's stupid enough to want to impregnate me). There are the wildly obvious choices: Winnie the Pooh, The Wind in the Willows, Roald Dahl, Harry Potter; but I want to pick something a bit different.
It's the 400th anniversary edition of The Complete Works of Shakespeare.
Bear with me.
It was a gift from my father to my mother when they were young and first married. My sister took it with her to university because she was reading English and American literature. I appropriated it some years ago and it now sits on my bookshelves next to The Lord Of The Rings and Bill Bryson's At Home (because I sort my books by size). It's not a book so much as an object. It has a particular smell to it - sweet leather is the closest description I can come up with.
I will never part with it because it's always been in my life, sitting on my Mammy's bookshelves as it now sits on mine.
Here is probably where something should be said about ebooks, and how "real" books are better because this can happen with them, but I wouldn't agree with that. For a start, this book never gets read. The print is tiny, the printing cheap, the pages flimsy, and it's Shakespeare. This book is not a book, it's an object. It could be a piece of jewellery, or a painting, or an item of clothing, or a hundred other things, but this one just happens to be a book.
But it also *is* a book. As I suffered through Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet, my Mammy didn't suffer through Twelfth Night (because she didn't pass her 11+, but she read and loved it anyway), and I can't see a day when there isn't a room full teenagers complaining at length about these plays. Every generation is made familiar with these works, so that's a pretty good reason to chose it.