Meet the Staff

How we all fell in love with reading, some of our favorite books,
and what is on our 'to be read' lists.

The first book I fell in love with was “Stuart Little” by E.B. White. I remember lying on my mother’s bed with some of my siblings while she read to us. I wept when Stuart was accidently washed down the drain. Then, I was enchanted with the antics of rat, mole, and their riverbank friends in “The Wind In the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame.  I wished for a nanny like P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins” and, more than anything, I wanted my own Tinkerbell and loved “Peter Pan” by James Barrie.  

When I started reading on my own, my favorite book was “The Once and Future King” by T.H. White.  I have been meaning to reread it for years.  Shirley Hazzard’s “Transit of Venus” is a perfect novel which I do read again and again. Robertson Davies' wonderful Deptford trilogy is also right up there. More recently, some titles on the top of my list are: “Lila” by Marilynne Robinson, “Moon Tiger” by Penelope Lively (and almost anything else she writes), “All the Light You Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” by Anthony Marra, “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese, “Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje, "Between Them" by Richard Ford, and for sheer delight ‘Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter.

As for books, on the ‘to be read pile.’ I feel badly I have never read any Faulkner. But …no  promises.  Also, I do not read much non-fiction, and I am going to read Jill Lepore’s “These Truths: A History of the United States.”


My mother was a first grade teacher, so reading aloud to us was a given. I most vividly remember being read "The Secret Garden" by Francis Hodgson Burnett, and when I was oldenough I read it myself, as well as every other book by her that I could find. I loved whenteachers read to the class, and was carried away by "The Wind in the Willows", by KennethGrahame, and "Just So Stories" by Rudyard Kipling. I didn’t discover the Narnia Series until I readthese books to my own children, and we’ve read them over and over. As an adult, I still love fantasy tales, I thoroughly enjoyed "The Magicians" - a sort of much darker adult Narnia/Harry Potter tale by Lev Grossman, as well as "The Discovery of Witches" Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Harkness has a new book out now – "Time’s Convert" which I will read as soon as possible! "1Q84" by Haruki Murakami also has a fantastical bent to it that I quite enjoyed.


I adore contemporary fiction, especially novels that discuss characters with complicated relationships- I guess my first obsession was anything by Doris Lessing, especially "The Golden Notebook". The book" A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara heart breaking but so compelling -it hurts to read this, (so beware!) but it was also beautiful. More complicated characters- "Lila" by Marilynne Robinson, "The Art of Fielding" by Chad Horbach, "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer, "The Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay, "A Guide for the Perplexed" by Dara Horn, "The Nix" by Nathan Hill, and everything by Elizabeth Strout.

I am a lover of natural science, so real stories about nature and animals appeal to me, as well as novels that contain truths about nature. Everything I have read by Barbara Kingsolver including her latest- "Unsheltered" contains so much about natural science interwoven with compelling narratives. I felt the same way about "The Signature of All Things" by Elizabeth Gilbert. "The Hungry Tide" by Amitav Ghosh takes place in the Sunderbans in India, very much in the news now due to extreme flooding. Because I am drawn to books about animals, I have unwittingly read many books by the same author- Sy Montgomery ("The Soul of an Octopus", "The Good Pig",- and on the counter now-"How to Be a Good Creature.")

As an artist, I also love books which have stories about art or as in "The Goldfinch", by Donna Tartt and "The World to Come" by Dara Horn, books that feature a particular painting in the storyline. Robin Black’s book "Life Drawing" features an artist as the main character. B.A. Shapiro books "The Art Forger" and "The Muralist" both had interesting historical and art aspects.

I am looking forward to reading "The Collector’s Apprentice" by her. I was completely mesmerized by the strange and compelling true stories in the book "Love and Other Ways of Dying" by former Darienite Michael Paterniti. One of the stories takes place in Darien when the author was a senior in High School.


The two books I most remember from my youth are "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott and "The Secret Garden" by Francis Burnett.Hodgson.  I particularly remember the illustrations from the versions I had.

 
Among my favorite books are "Cider House Rules" and "A Prayer for Owen Meaney" by John Irving, "City of Thieves" by David Benioff, " The Light Between Oceans" by M. L. Stedman and "The Great Alone" by Kristin Hannah.
                                

 Two books that I am going to make time for in the new year are "Pachinko" by Min jin Lee and "Calypso" by Davis Sedaris.


I remember "The Endless Steppe" by Esther Hautzig. I don't think this was necessarily the first book I read that captured my imagination but it is the one that has stayed with me over the years, and it is the book I thought about as I was recently reading "Between Shades of Grey" by Ruta Sepetys, another favorite. "The Endless Steppe" is a memoir that tells the story of Esther and her family who were exiled to Siberia from Poland during WWII in a cattle car and sent to work in the forced labor camps. It is a compelling story of resilience and endurance.


Some of your all time favorites are: "Mary Coin" by Marisa Silver, "Mothering Sunday" by Graham Swift,"Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship," by Gail Caldwell"A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry and "The Boys of My Youth" by Jo Ann Beard.


I would like to reread "Little Women".; Spending some time with Jo and her sisters seems appealing to me right now. And Barbara Kingsolver's new novel "Unsheltered" is on my to-be-read list, along with Jill Lepore's "These Truths: A History of the United States." I read Dani Shapiro's new memoir "Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love" which comes out in January and I can't wait to put that in to the hands of our customers.


The first book that made me fall in love with reading was "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White." It was given to me by a student teacher that was helping me with my reading, and I am not sure she ever knew how much the gesture affected my life.

These are my top all time favorites, not easy, tried to keep it low:" The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant,"The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver, "The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach, "Salem’s Lot" by Stephan King,"The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, "Cutting For Stone" by Abraham Verghese, and  "Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal" by Christopher Moore.

These are a few from my must read pile. All I need is a couple of weeks vacation at a Caribbean beach, a lovely tropical cocktail, sun and some books from this list: "The Stand" by Stephan King, "A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara, "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, "The Fireman" by Joe Hill, "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier, "The Secret History" by Donna Tart, and "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole.


My first experience with the magic of being swallowed by a book as a child was with "Paddle to the Sea" by Holling Clancy Holling, written in 1941! . It told the simple story of an Indian boy in Canada who carved a toy Indian in a canoe out of wood and placed it in a snowbank next to a river in the spring. The snow melted, and the wood toy was released into the river. The story follows the journey of "Paddle-To-The-Sea" down the river, through all five of the great lakes, down the St. Lawrence River, and finally onto the beach in Newfoundland. The toy is retrieved and brought to France by a journalist, and the Indian boy, now grown up many years later and living in Europe, recognizes his creation in a newspaper story he reads in Paris. The illustrations were simple, yet beautiful, and I read this story over and over!

As a teenager, I read all I could get my hands on when it came to the Golden Age of Science Fiction: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury. As I got older, my tastes broadened, but I never lost my attraction to the strange and surreal. Haruki Murakami, the Japanese surrealist, currently tops my list. His "Kafka On The Shore" and the "Wind-up Bird Chronicle" are post-modern masterpieces. Ursula Le Guin's EarthSea cycle, written for young readers, captivated me years ago with a story of the original boy wizard, and her final novel "Lavinia" is a lovely, poetic recreation of an ancient Roman foundation myth told from the point of view of the Trojan Aeneas' daughter. Barry Unsworth, Margaret Atwood, and Philip Roth have all caught me in their webs; One of my favorite non-fiction titles of all time, written in 2001 by Nathaniel Philbrick, is "In the Heart of The Sea: The Tragedy of the Whale Ship Essex", a riveting account of true events in the 19th century that inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick."

On my 'must read' list are "Shakespeare's plays! All of them. King Lear and Macbeth tower over all of Western literature, transcendent works which are of a piece with the greatest accomplishments in human history: Mozart's Requiem, Bach's Cello Suites, Michelangelo's David, and Einstein's Theory of Relativity.Perhaps more accessible are the works of the inimitable Dr. Seuss. If you haven't read him, you don't know children's literature!

 

 


As a child, I was not a reader—I came to it late. The first book that I remember being blown away by was “Lonesome Dove”—a true page-turner by Larry McMurtry.

Since then I have read current novels, classics that I missed out on because I was a science not a liberal arts major, and the other good stuff that came out along the way. My all-time favorites are “Portrait of a Lady” by Henry James and “The Human Stain” by Philip Roth. I will also read a good non-fiction book, usually science related. Most recently, I enjoyed “Swerve” by Stephen Greenblatt, “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari, “ The Greatest Quake”, and “Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself" by Mark Eptstein. I like criticism, and think Harold Bloom is a god!

 

 

 


As a child I read "Superfudge" so many times that I could recite the first few chapters by heart. I think Judy Blume started my real love for reading on my own.

I don't remember a point in my life when I didn't have a book in my hand. Some of my all time favorites are "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides,  "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt, "Fried Green Tomatoes" by Fannie Flagg, "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" by Rebecca Wells. I would say my current favorites include "Calypso" by David Sedaris, "The Great Believers" by Rebecca Makkai, "Beartown" by Fredrik Backman, "The Great Alone" by Kristin Hannah, "Goodbye Vitamin" by Rachel Khong and "Fates & Furies" by Lauren Groff. I also love a good thriller anytime and feel like I've reached a point where my tastes in books change on a fairly regular basis. Its a good thing I work where I do and have so many wonderful books on hand.


The first chapter book I remember being read to me was "Stuart Little". My mother read it to me when I was sick with the measles, so I must have been around four. I remember being completely absorbed in the story and then asking for more and more chapter books.

My favorite books from my impressionable teenage years: " Gone With the Wind"; "Rebecca" and anything by F Scott Fitzgerald. More recently: "The Crimson Petal and the White"; "American Pastoral"; "Atonement"; " The Goldfinch" and "Life After Life." For pure escapism: The Jack Reacher series by Lee Child; The Alex Cooper series by Linda Fairstein and The Detective Lynley series by Elizabeth George.

I want to re-read Jane Austen. I was too young to appreciate her wit and irony when I first read her in high school. In terms of new fiction: "The Winter Soldier" by Daniel Mason and "The Huntress" by Kate Quinn (due in February ).

 


Being a child of two teachers meant that reading was an important part of my childhood. Until I learned to read bedtime meant I was read to and mostly by my father. My favorites were the Christopher Robin books and the poems in “When We Were Very Young.” My father read with great enthusiasm and feeling and I think he enjoyed reading me “The Little Engine That Could” the best. I can still feel my heart beating faster andfaster when he read “ I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! When my father read me “James And The Giant Peach” I remember feeling for the for time, a strong distaste for a human being when he read in a cackling voice of James’s horrible aunts. When I learned to read, books became a comfort and an addiction to me and I have never stopped. When I finish a book I have a pile waiting to be read and I usually crack open another immediately. Without a doubt my favorite books as a child were the “Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Wolves of Willoughby Chase,” “ My Side of the Mountain,” and “Harriet the Spy.”

As a grown up I loved “Secret History “, “Bonfires of the Vanities”, “The Way the Crow Flies,” and any thing by Richard Russo and Richard Ford. If I had to recommend books as "must reads," I would recommend “Canada” by Richard Ford, “Time and Again” by Jack Finney, “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and maybe "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote. Recent books I have read that I have enjoyed include “You Think it, I’ll Say it” by Curtis Sittenfeld, “Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje.and “Gone So Long” by Andre Dubus III.

Two books I really want to read are "The House of Sand anf Fog" by Andre DuBus III and "Middlemarch" by George Eliot.


I vividly remember  my older sister surprising me on my 6th birthday by coming home from college with a copy of "Eloise" by Kay Thomspson. I spent hours reading the book and imagining myself living in the Plaza Hotel. I loved her adventures with Weenie her dog,  Skipperdee her turtle and her special relationship with Nanny. It's a classic that stands the test of time.

My sister continued to introduce me to children's classics, including some of my favorite children's books like "Island of the Blue Dolphins"by Scott O'Dell, "Boxcar Children" by Gertrude Chandler Warner, and "A Cricket in Times Square" by George Seldon. My favorite adult books include "Isaac's Storm" by Erik Larson, "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel and" Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks.

I am always happiest surrounded by books. My nightstand, bookshelves and floor are full of books I "must read" someday.  The book I am determined to read is "These Truths: A History of the United States" by Jill Lapore. Everyone could use an American history refresher. I also love the idea of reading a biography of every U.S. president but that might have to wait until life slows down.