Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is:
Top Ten Best Bookish Memories
So what are my favorite memories of book-related experiences? Other than just reading lots of them, you mean?
I can break them down into a few different categories. First, encounters with authors:
1) Meeting Mary Doria Russell. Mary Doria Russell is the author of one of my very favorite books, The Sparrow, as well as four other excellent novels. I’ve been a fan for years, and when I saw on her website that she’d be speaking at a local high school, I emailed to ask whether the event was open to the public. The answer? No, but she’d arranged for me to attend as her guest. The event itself was terrific — the entire student body of the all-girls Catholic school had read The Sparrow as their summer reading, and I was both amazed and touched by the maturity of the students and their thoughtful approach to a book with difficult subject matter. Mary Doria Russell was charming, funny, and extremely intelligent, and I was delighted to have some time before the event to chat with her one-on-one. As a follow-up, my book group chose her most recent novel, Doc, for our December book, and we were able to spend an hour on the phone with Mary. Simply delightful.
2) Christopher Moore’s Fool – On Stage! (2010) Author Christopher Moore narrated this stage reading of excerpts from his novel Fool (a retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear). Actors from San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater took on various roles from the novels, and each scene was played out first as Shakespeare wrote it, then as reimagined in the crazy, uproarious world of Christopher Moore’s mind. Simply one of the best events I’ve ever attended.
3) Gail Carriger at Borderlands Books in San Francisco. Gail Carriger has to be one of the most gracious authors I’ve encountered. I’ve been to several of her author appearances, but last year’s event at Borderlands celebrating the release of Timeless was really memorable. The crowd wasn’t huge, but it was certainly enthusiastic, and Gail answered questions for as long as people kept asking them, then signed lots of books, answered individual questions, posed for pictures, and was just an all-around lovely (and stylish!) person. Sadly, I’ll be missing Gail Carriger’s appearance in SF tomorrow for her launch of Etiquette & Espionage, although I do plan to read the book as soon as it lands in my hot little hands.
3) Getting an email from Diana Gabaldon. I love, love, love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. But after reading the first book, I was a bit confused by certain logistics: Wait, was so-and-so in the room when this happened? And where was X? How did Y finally escape? That sort of thing. Well, after getting as far as I could on my own, I used the “contact” function on the author’s website to submit my questions, and got a really friendly and informative email in reply, which not only answered my questions but did so without making me feel like a total dummy.
4) Amber Benson’s book signing. Tara from Buffy, you guys! Did you know she’s an author?? She did a reading a few years ago at a local bookstore. I arrived a little early to browse… and met Amber browsing as well! She was friendly and funny, perfectly willing to pose for pictures, and then did a really cute talk and reading. I didn’t end up loving the book itself, but it was definitely one of the most fun book events I’ve attended.
Next, big book releases:
5) Attending a midnight release party for Breaking Dawn. Okay, I’m not a huge Twilight fan, but I did read and enjoy the books at the time. In fact, I first came across the books while on vacation, having never heard of them previously, and it wasn’t until I got home that I realized that I’d stumbled into a huge phenomenon. Luckily for me, Breaking Dawn was released about a month later, and I went to a crazy, big release party at the now defunct Borders. It was chaos, but pure, happy chaos, with manic fans milling about and squawking with excitement until the actual book sale at midnight. There was a fun, welcoming vibe, a sense of “we’re all in this together”… and it was a good excuse to spend a couple of hours wandering around a bookstore.
6) Reading the final Harry Potter book. The intensity of reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was just indescribable. Waiting for the book delivery, shutting myself away from the world (and my family), shunning all newspapers, TV, and internet until I’d finished the book. I scrupulously avoided anything that could be a source of spoilers and was, I’m sure, terribly nasty to anyone who tried to interrupt my reading. Reading along as the books were published was a true joy, and the anticipation while waiting for book 7 was excruciating… but I loved it all.
7) Attending the annual Big Book Sale sponsored by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. A four-day book sale, with something like 500,000 used books to choose from, all $5 or less! I look forward to this event every year, and always come home with armloads and bagfuls of books. Interesting and weird finds, lovely editions, a chance to mingle with fellow book-lovers — fun, fun, fun!
And in the personal life/nostalgia category:
8) Stealing from my older sister. My sister is four years older than I am, and at any given stage of our lives, I always wanted to read her books instead of mine. Sometimes she’d lend them to me willingly, sometimes I’d have to sneak a bit. So perhaps I can credit sibling rivalry with my childhood-long habit of reading “up” instead of sticking with my own grade-level reading materials. Strongest memory? Borrowing (with permission!) my sister’s copy of Little Women — and then having her snatch it back after a nasty argument about something or other. Being one to hold a grudge, she never did let me have the book again, and it was a couple of years before I finally picked up my own copy from the library and finished the damn book.
9) Learning about sex and puberty from Judy Blume. I attended a sleepaway camp for many summers of my youth, and Judy Blume’s books got passed around from hand to hand until the covers were falling off, especially Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Forever. In the more rambunctious teen years, we moved on to racier material (Fear of Flying by Erica Jong was one such title), but there was a certain lovely cameraderie that grew out of our shared reading experiences each summer. (I wrote a little tribute to Judy Blume a few months ago; you can read it here.)
10) My bookish romance. I’ve written about this before (here, if you’re interested), but one of the things that made me fall in love with my husband was the day that he told me about a book he’d loved years earlier and I realized that perhaps I’d found a kindred spirit. Finding the book itself was one of the most exciting discoveries for me at a Big Book Sale.
And that’s my list! I’m sure there are so many more I could come up with — but this is a top 10 list, not a top 100 list! What are your most memorable book-related experiences? Do tell!