Off the Shelf: Hers

I am the daughter of an architect and a librarian who first met in a library (she, an undergraduate at Barnard; he, a graduate student in the Columbia architecture school).   So books have been an important part of my life from the very beginning.  Some of my youngest memories are struggling through 'Hop on Pop' with my dad and being read The Little Fur Family every night before bed (There was a little fur family, warm as toast, smaller than most, in little fur coats).  And the rest of my life is sort of punctuated with memories of what I was reading, when.  There was a time before I could read full novels on my own that my mom read me all of the Ramona books outloud.  And also Greek mythology.  And the Hans Christian Andersen versions of all of the Disney stories (that was a little cruel).  Later she paid me to read The Little House on the Prarie series ($5 per book), which I adored.  I spent my earnings on candy bars (forbidden in my house, along with television and chewing gum).  

I've since graduated from reader-for-hire to reader-for-pleasure, and I'm always looking for new books to try.  I usually have a running list of books that I've mostly accepted I'll never get to.  But I also have a habit of walking into a bookstore like McNally Jackson on Prince Street or St. Mark's Bookshop on Third Avenue and buying as many books as I can carry, much to the consternation of my husband.

Here is a snapshot of our early dating days:

Scene: At Barnes & Noble

Peter, suddenly:  That's it!  I'm leaving.
Annie, confused: What? Why!
Peter:  You get too weird in bookstores.

The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling, had been on my list since I first heard she'd be writing a new novel.  I'm a huge fan of the Harry Potter series (I've read each book at least five times) and I couldn't recommend 'Vacancy' more highly.  It was classic Rowling - a distinct interest in good vs. evil, adolecense and community.  The characters are rendered with such expertise and nuance that they are impossible to forget.  Ten years from now one of them might cross my mind and I might have difficulty remembering whether he or she was a character in a novel or someone I once went to school with.  The ending was quite sad though, maybe needlessly so.  Or am I just a complete sap these days?

Give it a try and let us know what you think!  

What are your first memories of books?


Available for order at McNally Jackson.  Order online (at the link) or call for hand-delivery in Manhattan!