America’s favorite librarian celebrates her birthday today and I want to take a minute to celebrate her.
Before I had the great fortune to get to know Nancy Pearl personally, I was an admiring fan. She’s the kind of reader every writer hopes for — her recommendations are always passionate, lively and articulate, and zero in on the heart of the book. She got me reading books I never would’ve picked up and she freed all of us from the painful task of suffering through books we didn’t care for. (Her Rule of 50:”If you still don’t like a book after slogging through the first 50 pages, set it aside. If you’re more than 50 years old, subtract your age from 100 and only grant it that many pages.”)
Though her fame — NPR commentator, beloved author of the Book Lust series AND action doll model — could’ve have gone to her head, she is the most down to earth and kind person you’d ever want to meet. I encounter fellow bookworms wherever I go, but there aren’t many people like Nancy whose love of books is nearly evangelistic. She believes that there are 100 books every person should read in their life — but that it won’t necessarily be the same 100 books for any of us.
She’s also a very good sport. This past week, she invited Winston and me to be guests on her Book Lust program for the Seattle Channel (it will air sometime this spring). Though the look on the cameraman’s face made me doubt the wisdom of my decision to bring my loyal assistant, Nancy took it all in stride, interweaving stories about her Apricot Standard Poodle with stories about how different author-guests have dealt with the challenge of slipping the microphone cord under their clothing. And even though I usually turn stiff and wooden the minute I see a camera, after the first question, I was instantly at ease. And, for thirty brief and transcendent minutes, I got to inhabit her world, where books are all that matter, where reading the day away is considered not decadent but essential and where worries about reviews and platforms and public relations are simply not allowed. It was sheer bliss.
So here’s to Nancy, a true jewel in the book world.
Oooh, Happy birthday to Nancy. I remember hearing her every week on Rewind back in the days when KUOW was my local NPR station. I think both Rewind and I left the state about the same time. It is so nostalgic when she shows up on the national shows.