Sunday, September 26, 2010

Author's Books and Author's Jobs

I had a "driveway moment" yesterday while listening to a story on NPR about a new book in which authors reminisce about various jobs they've held and how those experiences inform their writing. "Don't quit your day job" is both the title of the book and the facetious advice that the experienced novelist gave to the interviewer, an aspiring novelist. An aspiring novelist myself, I always appreciate hearing from those who have "been there, done that," and the reference to Truman Capote's maxim Write something true (and then start lying) was a good reminder.

While searching for the link to that story on NPR's website, I found another interesting book-related story about a reader discovering an author's personal library for sale in a used bookstore. How could she tell the book belonged to a writer? Because the book's previous owner had filled it with margin notes, conversing with the printed text in a close and thoughtful interaction.

Last night I was at a party and someone asked me how, as a writer, I decide what books to buy. My criteria for buying a new book is whether I might want to read it more than once. If I'm not sure that's the case, I will borrow it from a friend or the library. Used books, however, are not always held to the same standard, which is why I have a revolving-door relationship with Cherry Picked Books and Raven. I do love the idea of an author's library going out into the world, posthumously and diffusely, through the venue of a used bookstore. The books and their conversations could stay alive that way.


  1. I always read your stuff, get to this comment part and then draw a blank about the specifics of your topic! Darn-it! :0 I liked it though!

    What drives me to actually buy a book is my gut. It either crushes me when I get the hand, or not. It makes me feel a little sad for the used books I sometimes buy..because if I don't like them, or they didn't offer me some insight, I sell them back. I wonder, if I wrote something would it end up there?

  2. Good post! Where's Cherry Picked Books?! And have you been to Grey Matter Books in Hadley? -- excellent used poetry section!

  3. Hi Marie,
    Cherry Picked Books is in Easthampton on Main Street. They have a great fiction selection. I haven't been to Grey Matter but always loved the name - now I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip!