Social networking makes stalking—I mean, *cough* meeting new friends—easy! Through Pageflipper’s online book club, I met YA book bloggers Sharon and Laura, and thanks to Twitter, I learned that our visits to New York City coincided, and thanks to a 1-2-3 Twitter-Facebook-Gmail combo punch, I made a Doesn’t-Anyone-Love-the-Author sympathy plea and inserted myself directly into their Wednesday afternoon plans: lunch and a shopping spree at The Strand book store in Union Square!
So, after a yummy get-acquainted lunch in which Miss Lily, Laura’s adorable daughter, downed a chocolate shake faster than even my fry-stealin’ shake-lovin’ husband could have done it, we headed to The Strand with full stomachs and a singular mission: to load up on some great YA picks. Pretty simple, right?
Right. That was before. Before, when Laura and I still thought Sharon was another sweet, good-natured book blogger. A lover of cats and upstate New York scenery. A kind, well-read soul with a heart of gold (or at least a high-grade silver). Before, we actually laughed when Sharon grabbed a double-decker basket thingy. “Why would you need two big baskets?” I asked (ignorantly). “I don’t think we need a whole cart,” Laura said (cluelessly). Yep. Before. I think I speak for both of us when I admit my utter shock on discovering that our tall blond companion is none other than… The Strand Master!
Listen, people, and learn as we did. When it comes to YA books, The Strand Master does not mess around.
She got her cart. Led us up to the second floor, past the YA shelves, straight for a low shelf near the children’s books. Dropped to the floor. Rolled up her sleeves. And dug in, hunting and pecking her way through doubled-up rows of ARCs. Fascinated, I pulled up an adjacent spot of floor and watched as The Strand Master (TSM) hunted for the besties of the book bunch, a bit like Frankie Perino’s bikini mission in TWENTY BOY SUMMER:
…Frankie takes a deep breath and gets to work. She weaves her way through racks of swimsuits, foraging like a mother antelope for her starving babies, passing over colors or styles that are “soooo last year” or “too blah blah blah for the beach.” When she finds something with potential, she tugs on the fabric to simulate a hard day in the surf and holds it to the light to ensure it has the right amount of see-throughability.
After fifteen minutes of hunting and gathering, Frankie emerges from the racks with two armloads of try-ons. A broken fingernail and a slight breathlessness are her only battle scars.
Speaking of battle scars, I almost lost a finger when I held up an ARC of Aprilynne Pike’s WINGS, so badly did TSM want it! It took me all of twelve seconds to relent, reasoning that I kind of need all of my digits for writing the next YA best seller (*grin*). TSM had been talking an awful lot about zombies that day, and she had that look in her eye…
Anyway, after cleaning out the ARC shelves, TSM led us on another mission. Get-Sarah-to-buy-more-books-like-it’s-not-a-recession part deux, if you will. Down down down to the basement. Past the rows of textbooks and political discourse. Beyond the stacks of feminist theory and intellectual sales bins. Under the large overhanging EMPLOYEES ONLY sign. When met with curious stares from actual Strand employees, presumably those to which aforementioned EMPLOYEES ONLY sign referred, TSM uttered a secret password and the rest, well, to borrow a title from Ally Carter, I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU. But I will tell you that it was from a secret cave deep within the bowels of one of NYC’s best-loved book stores lined with gleaming hardcovers that I procured WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson and SHINE, COCONUT MOON by Neesha Meminger.
By the time we’d finished ransacking all the nooks and crannies of The Strand, we probably had 50 books between us, including Lily’s fave Spongebob pick. Laura and Lily had a long drive ahead of them, so TSM and I wished our Massachusetts friends farewell and headed into Starbucks for some coffee. There, squeezed around a crowded corner table, we met a man. A man who, as we soon learned thanks to his uncanny ability to rock the M in TMI, had seventeen recipes for rice krispie treats but no bones in front of his heart. It was all very Metropolitan Diary meets House, but Sharon couldn’t get enough of the gory details. Hmmm. I really think there’s something to her whole zombie obsession…
Medical mishaps aside, the afternoon was full, fun, and fabulous — enough to exhaust any book-seeking urban explorer. I’m so happy that Sharon, Laura, and Lily shared their New York adventures with me! Ah, Internets. How ever did we instantly share the level of information cyberstalking requires without you? :-)
Don’t forget to read Sharon’s take on our day at The Strand (and see a few more photos) here!