Picture This: A Visit With Gabrielle Zevin

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Gabrielle Zevin | @GabrielleZevin

Gabrielle Zevin

Gabrielle Zevin

I took this picture after The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was already finished. I was on my way back from a book festival somewhere in the South and completely exhausted. In general, I enjoy book festivals, but the panel I had spoken on at this particular festival had been a bit of a dud. The time of my event had been misprinted in the program, and not unexpectedly, the crowd was pretty thin. (I don’t necessarily draw a big crowd, even when the time is printed correctly!) In any case, it was a long trip to make to speak to a crowd of approximately twelve. I should probably mention here that this is not even close to the smallest crowd I’ve ever spoken to. I once regaled a crowd of two. Can you even refer to two people as a crowd? But back to the photograph…!

I quickly fell asleep on the plane.When I awoke, I was almost home, and the first thing I saw was a paper book and hands reflected in the dark window of the plane. This image was a comfort somehow. It made me feel as if I were in a special fraternity with my seatmate, a person I hadn’t even truly noticed before. The reflected book reminded me of why I write and why I wrote A.J. Fikry. At the beginning of the The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, A.J., for a variety of reasons (the death of his wife, the decline of his bookstore, etc.), has become burnt out on reading. He is an intellectual and he uses his intellect and his taste to isolate himself from others. I think it’s easy to do this. Reading, after all, is a solitary pursuit. However, one of the unexpected boons of reading is the way books connect us to each other. My whole life, I’ve loved spying on what strangers are reading. You can learn as much about a person from the book in their hands as you can from a purse or hair color. It makes me sad that so many people use e-readers these days because it makes spying so much harder! The book on the plane was in a language I couldn’t read. I can’t even tell you what my seatmate was reading that night, only that he was a reader.

picture this - paperbook over LAX

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

6 Responses to Picture This: A Visit With Gabrielle Zevin

  1. Paula Dolin April 23, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve loved books my whole life – the feel, the smell of a new one, the covers, everything, but in defense of e-readers, which I hesitated so much about using because I love books, it had been getting really hard for me to hold open a book, especially a large one, because of pain in my hands and my Kindle is so nice and light and easy to hold. I also like that I can have about 800 books with me in my purse! Looking forward to reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry :)

  2. Wendy April 23, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I love this post, and especially that you were able to share the picture of what you were seeing. My daughter and I both have e-readers, but rarely using them, preferring to hold a book instead. So spy on us anytime, and we will do the same… :-)

  3. Kathy April 23, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    So many friends and family urge me to buy a “Kindle” or some type of reader rather than tote my paperbacks to my places of travel. I prefer the feel of the paper within my hands and yes, it does tell a person that I enjoy reading mystery, drama and perhaps I am someone they can relate to. Great to see you are a person who enjoys seeing what others are drawn to in reading. It always gives me comfort that I can have a companion in my book reading.

  4. Edible Tapestry April 23, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Another thing to add to my list of reasons for refusing to purchase an e-reader, I would have to give up a little of my nosiness. That almost tops #1 on my list, which is the fact that I wouldn’t be able to electronically read in the bathtub, not as clumsy as I am, anyway.

  5. Davida Chazan April 26, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Oh, and here I thought I was the only person who checked out what other people are reading on planes (and other public transport)! But I have to say that while it is true that you can’t really spy on someone reading on an eReader, but when you live somewhere that isn’t convenient for publishers to send you dead tree versions of ARCs, you have to have an eReader.

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