A few weeks ago on this blog I mentioned Bryant Park, which as you probably gathered is one of my favourite spots in New York. One part of the park I especially like is the ‘Reading Room’ – a tradition from the 1930’s which they brought back in 2003. The ‘Reading Room’ consists of trolleys of books and magazines that people can read for free while in the park, there’s no ticketing system or anything, you just read them and they trust you’ll put them back.
So, being a marketer and a first time novelist who just happens to have four copies of her book with her I decided to surreptitiously leave a book on the trolley. Funny how I felt so conspicuous, hanging around until the librarian was well over the other side. I think it would have been easier to actually steal a book rather than leave mine behind. One the advice of a friend I inscribed the book, to the readers of Bryant Park, saying how much I loved the place and I hope that whoever found it enjoyed the book.
That was a couple of weeks ago and each time I pass, I casually stop – as if browsing you understand. Only hours after ‘the drop’ I was delighted to see the book was gone! I scoured all the trolleys and got a little carried away. Maybe it had been stolen? Perhaps for sale on Ebay? Surely that would be the ultimate compliment! Alas, a few days later it reappeared, not on the ‘Classics’ section where I’d put it originally (it was the closest trolley to the edge) but on the bottom shelf of another trolley, next to a copy of Nuala O’Faolain’s “My Dream of You.”
I never met Nuala in person but from reading her memoirs I felt like I knew her, and like many other people, felt that we shared a love of lots of the same things – Raymond Carver for example, New York, Berlin. I’ll admit that seeing my book there, next to hers with Manhattan bustling all around gave me quite the thrill.
In the past few weeks, my book has come and gone, come and gone and now even proudly carries a yellow sticker declaring that it is the property of the Bryant Park Reading Room. Needless to say Nuala’s has come and gone several times too, but somehow they always seem to find their way back together again. Perhaps it’s because they are the same height – the librarian seems to favour filing by shape and size – but sitting there every morning making out my notes for the day ahead I like to let my imagination play, and in the dappled September light of the trees it’s easy to believe it’s something more than that, just for a few minutes.