EB White on the power and importance of libraries, 1971.
I have loved every book Jen Smith has written- every sentence she’s written, really- and The Geography of You & Me is definitely my favorite. She did, however, make the mistake of joking about doing the book reading portion of her April 15th launch party here at McNally in complete darkness to replicate the blackout setting of the novel, and now I’m holding her to it. We’re giving Jen a flashlight and everyone else a glow necklace in the hopes that (a) a rave breaks out and/ or (b) no one eats it in the total darkness and winds up the owner of a broken nose alongside a signed copy of the new Jen Smith book. See you there.
-Cristin, YA Buyer/ Events Manager
Any book nerd knows that it doesn’t matter where you are – all you need to be happy is a good book and a good place to sit. Luckily, New York City has plenty of both, and as someone who has been reading here for almost a decade now, I thought I’d tell you about a few of my very favorite spots…
Central Park: This isn’t just one of the best places to read in New York – it’s one of the best places in the world. With so many people and so much going on – the musicians and the dogs and the vendors and the baseball games – it can admittedly be a little distracting. But if you’re reading the right book, you won’t even notice. The rest of the world will disappear as you sit on a bench or a rock, the hum of the city all around you, the trees in full bloom, and the buildings leaning in from the edges of the park as if trying to read over your shoulder. As a bonus, see if you can grab a bench near the statues on Poet’s Walk, where you can read in the company of William Shakespeare, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott, among others. You could do a whole lot worse as book clubs go.
The New York Public Library: This is an obvious one, of course, but it’s obvious for a reason. There’s nothing like walking up those steps, past the lions, and into the cool hush of the building. I have to admit that I don’t get here often enough, but every once in awhile, when I find myself nearby, I sneak over to the Reading Room, where beneath a vaulted ceiling, in the warm glow of the desk lamps, everyone is huddled over their books. As a big reader, there’s nowhere in the world you’ll feel more like you’ve found your tribe. And the best part is that if you’ve forgotten your book, there are literally millions of others waiting there just for you.
The Subway: A lot of people might argue that the subway is possibly the worst place in the world to read a book. It’s crowded and stuffy and unpleasant and smelly. But part of the job of a story is to make you forget where you are, and that’s never more necessary than when you’re stuck underground. The subway might get you from here to there, but it’s your book that will transport you to somewhere else entirely while you do it.
Riverside Park: This is an easy one for me, since I live nearby, but when the weather is nice, there’s nowhere I love to read more. It’s a lot smaller than Central Park, basically just a narrow strip of grass that runs up the length of the Upper West Side along the Hudson River, but there’s a quiet charm to it. It’s less crowded, less touristy, less noisy than some of New York’s other parks, and you can sit on a bench surrounded by gardens, looking out over the water while you read. In the spring, summer, and fall, you can pretty much always find me there with my trusty hound and a favorite book (which I’m usually trying to read, and he’s usually trying to eat).
If you’re looking for more reading nooks or ideas, you can find me on Twitter (@JenESmith) or come to my event at McNally Jackson (another great spot!) on April 15th. Hope to see you there!
I would say that I’m a fan of Leila and Rebecca, but that’d be overly coy— I have long been a fan of their writing, and when I found out they were real-life BFFs, I started feeling the kind of obsession you get as a freshman when you watch the senior girls cruise around in pairs. This wasn’t helped by Leila sending me a series of amazing pictures of the two of them when I asked for help writing the events listing for their McNally Jackson appearance (Tuesday, Apri 1, 7pm). I mean, really:
They’re basically the cutest humans who ever lived.
I’ve been wanting to start a YA guest blog program here for a long time and was/ am delighted that Leila & Rebecca agreed to be the inaugural posters, especially when all they had from me was such helpful direction as “just write something, you know, awesome?” I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did, and I hope to see you on the 1st for their event.
- Cristin, YA Buyer/ Events Manager
Hello, friends. It’s us. Leila Sales and Rebecca Serle. Leila is the author of Mostly Good Girls, Past Perfect, and This Song Will Save Your Life. Rebecca is the author of When You Were Mine and the brand-new The Edge of Falling, which we are going to CELEBRATE at McNally Jackson on April 1st “in conversation,” which is something that we do with roughly 75% of our waking hours, only on this particular occasion, we’ll be doing it in front of an audience. Hopefully, an audience including you.
To get you all prepared for what it’s like when we are “in conversation,” we’ve sat down together to write up a list of some of our YA obsessions.
Heist Society, by Ally Carter
We love Ally Carter so hard. We have this dream where we get to collaborate on a book with her. Any book. As long as she plots it, because she is killer at plotting. Does she want to write about being our third best friend? (We have never met her in person. This is creepy.) We go to Paneras all the time because one time we saw her on a panel and she said she works there. Every day, at Panera. We’re also aware that she doesn’t live in New York City and is never going to come into the actual Panera we are currently at. This does not deter us. If Panera inspires Ally Carter, there is always the chance it might work for us, too.
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, Gabrielle Zevin
Gabrielle Zevin not only has one of the best heads of hair in the book business, she is also an incredible role model, ridiculously talented author, and dear friend. Part of what makes this book so amazing is that it asks the hard questions. It asks, “If you were given part of your life to live over, what would you change?” And sometimes it turns out that you’d just make the same damn mistakes the second time around. How the romantic plotline in here gets resolved—or not resolved—is also so great and unique. This is a really special book.
Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
We were lucky enough to see (and meet!) J.K. Rowling during her ONE U.S. APPEARANCE for her adult book The Casual Vacancy. We had to enter some kind of crazy lottery where you had to show up to a dark alley at midnight and give a goat a gold coin—just kidding! The actual process of getting these tickets was way harder. Anyway we ended up in the second row and it was a dream. For obvious reasons, Harry Potter has shaped so much of our lives, careers, and friendship.
All The Truth That’s In Me, by Julie Berry
This is a beautiful book that stuck with both of us. It’s a haunting and terrifying story about a girl who gets her tongue cut out and cannot speak her truth or reveal what has happened to her. It’s semi-historical, somewhat allegorical, and completely enjoyable.
We have a lot more thoughts. Maybe that doesn’t surprise you. If you want to chat about books or our friendship or our hair, come find us on twitter (@LeilaSalesBooks @RebeccaASerle) or come to our event on April 1st. We’d be down with that, too.
Lauren Oliver will be at McNally Jackson Books on Thursday, 3/13, at 6:30 pm. If you’re unable to attend but would still like a personalized copy of Panic, you can order one here.
We have an amazing YA events lineup this month with Sarah Mlynowksi, Lauren Oliver, and our NYC Teen Author Festival panel. If you’re unable to attend, you can get signed & personalized copies of the books offered via our website:
Order a personalized copy of Lauren Oliver’s Panic
Order a personalized copy of Sarah Mlynowski’s Don’t Even Think About It
Order a personalized copy of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park
Order a personalized copy of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl
Happy Birthday, Ted.