Our Take Ten Staffer for May: Sandra Griffin
From Mamie: Sandra Griffin applied to be a seasonal bookseller at Quail Ridge Books in 2003 but was turned away for applying too late. The next summer she asked about a position early on, got the job, and has never left. She no longer works on the sales floor but takes care of the consignment books that the store receives. She also speaks to groups who want to know about the store and get information about new books. And no, she doesn’t just talk about books set in Paris! As a former educator, Sandra loves to entice others into enjoying her favorite pastime. Here are her top ten books, with her review below each one:
After seeing the movie Doctor Zhivago as a teenager, I had a great need to read anything set in Russia. So why not start with what some say is the greatest novel of all time? The complexity of the story and its many characters had me intrigued through multiple readings. Perhaps I’ll make it my summer read!
I love most everything that John Updike wrote, and this book probably started that admiration for me. The angst of twenty-something Harry Angstron, the main character, might even be relatable to millennials today. I remember devouring all the sequels.
I laughed my way through this book. My copy is yellowed with age and has many dog-eared pages. Who could come up with a character who hitchhikes across the country using her enormous thumb? It was the perfect novel for the late seventies, especially for this wanna-be hippie.
In this autobiography and tribute to his mother, James McBride weaves an amazing story of his chaotic life growing up as one of twelve siblings of a white Jewish woman and an African American father and stepfather. I admired the grit of this woman and her desire to provide a good education for all her children. I was thrilled to meet McBride when he came to Quail Ridge Books.
Once my sons got to be teenagers, I was able to return to more frequent reading of novels. Thanks to the late Nancy Olson’s “paperback boat” at the front of her Wade Avenue store, I found great books, including this strange and terrifying tale of guns and music set somewhere in South America.
Though she had won a Pulitzer Prize for her book of short stories, this was the first novel written by Ms. Lahiri. The theme of the immigrant experience of the Indian-American characters helped me understand my own background as a grandchild of Polish and Lithuanian immigrants. After this book, I make sure I read anything written by Lahiri.
My older son was an English major in college, and I always wanted to know about the books he was reading. After hearing about how much he liked The Purple Hibiscus, I was excited to report to him that the author had a new book, Half of a Yellow Sun. Any of her books could have been one of my Take Ten selections.
North Carolina is a treasure trove of amazing writers, and Raleigh is lucky to have Ms. Davis-Gardner. I enjoyed getting to know her as a customer of QRB, so naturally I wanted to read her novel set in Japan, the country where she began her teaching career. I loved this romantic story with an intriguing plot crafted by thorough research into a culture unknown to most Americans.
No, I don’t read every new book that’s set in Paris, but I try! After my first visit to the City of Lights, I was thrilled to find this new book about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, and the time they spent living as the “it” couple in the Latin Quarter of my favorite city during the Jazz Age.
This book caught my eye in the international section of the store when it was first published. I picked it up and started reading immediately. I loved this story of an intense female friendship set in Italy. I anxiously awaited each book in the series of four as the girls became women and Italy became a unified country.