Of ways I can describe myself, I would have to include collector in any given self-description. I suppose it goes hand-in-hand with being a librarian and the continual quest for organizing materials. Even as a young girl I was a collector of things: books, postcards, and, most noisily and heavily, keychains.
Over time these collections have been weeded (librarian-speak for evaluated and culled), but one subset of my book collection has remained: ones autographed by authors and/or illustrators.
Some of these have been purchased after the author has spoken and signed a few extra copies for the store to sell, but a good handful have included an opportunity for me to *personally meet/interact with the author or illustrator. In keeping with my organizational system, here’s my list (with a few photos and stories) of my current autographed book collection:
- Little House on the Prairie – illustrated by Garth Williams*
As a young girl my parents and I attended Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in Mansfield, MO, at her home where she wrote the Little House books. This was approximately five years before Mr. Williams passed away and I remember him being a quiet, gentle man. In addition to the Little House series he’s also known for his legendary illustrations in Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Cricket in Times Square. Read his obituary in the New York Times.
- Shiloh – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor ~ A surprise gift from a family teacher friend.
- For One More Day – Mitch Albom* ~ Met at St. Louis County Public Library during his 2007 book tour.
- Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen* ~ The One Read pick chosen by the community while I was in library school.
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie* ~ This past spring he spoke on our campus to a packed house. His note to me was just as bawdy and irreverent as he is, for which he makes no apologies!
- The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays – Ree Drummond*
Last fall The Optometrist and I crossed a state line and stood in line over 5 hours to meet The Pioneer Woman, along with her husband, The Marlboro Man. Was it worth it? Yes! Do I call her my BFF now because we’ve met and we both live in Oklahoma? Yes! Would I jump at the chance to go hang out with her on the ranch? Yes! Would I repeat this same method of meeting her again? Probably not.
- Messages from my Father: A Memoir – Calvin Trillin ~ Guest author at the community college where I used to work.
- The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon ~ Bought at a Borders (sniff) in St. Louis and read on my return flight from London to Chicago.
- Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortensen* ~ Guest author/speaker on campus when I was in grad school.
- Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris ~ Guest author/speaker on campus when I was in grad school. (I tell you, the Division 1 schools know how to spend money wisely!)
- Rules – Cynthia Lord ~ Guest author for a children’s festival I attended while working in a school library.
- The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians – illustrated by Brad Sneed ~ Guest author for a children’s festival I attended while working in a school library.
- Bumped – Megan McCafferty* ~ Met at a regional children’s book conference.
- Ashfall – Mike Mullin*
Last week as I attended the aforementioned conference, I didn’t realize what a small event it would be when I registered. What a great experience it was to chat with several authors and illustrators, hear them share stories, and have relatively short lines for the book signing tables! During Mike Mullin’s presentation he demonstrated some of his black belt taekwando skills, which he began studying in order to write the main character’s interest in Ashfall from an informed perspective. His impressive skills included using his bare hands to break a concrete paver in two. And guess who’s name was drawn in the raffle to go home with half of the paver? As I hobbled out to my car with a 7.5 pound paver, plus all sorts of newly autographed books, my arms ached with effort, but it was a small price to pay for the joy of knowing my collection had just grown larger.