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What’s in a stack o’ books?


What’s in your stack o’ books?  ID ours and win a ticket to Nantucket Book Festival’s ( Pig Roast! 

Short stack, double stack?  Themed or random?  Stacked or shelved?  We’re talking books, of course. 

I love looking at what books people read... Like with music and art, I think you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their collection...  In honor of the upcoming Nantucket Book Festival, I took a little walk down memory lane about how important books have been to me...

I like books.  I like the feel of books.  I like to keep my books.  I re-read books.  Some years ago, I realized that I wouldn't actually get in trouble for writing in my books, so now I write in books.

A childhood bookworm, many of my childhood memories [certainly the most regular] involve books.  Every Saturday morning, I'd ride my bike to the library for a couple glorious hours, browsing through the stacks and chatting with LouAnn, the  children's librarian in a very collegial (or so I thought) manner.  Selections in hand, I’d bungee cord the entire stack on the back of the bike's rat trap (did I just date myself?)…  Afterschool and weekends, I was more likely found reading in the perfectly formed ‘seat’ in the Hawthorne tree in the front yard than playing with friends or my brother.

Certain books feature on my life timeline… Little Women: my first 'grown up' book.  When I first pulled it down from the shelf over the piano, I put it right back because a) it had no pictures and b) it had a lot of big words.  At first, I chastised my mother for not having more books with pictures in the den, but she turned it around and convinced me to give it a try.  Oh boy, I was off and running…  At ten, I was introduced to my favorite book.  I had the chicken pox, and she brought Gone With the Wind home (in hindsight, it was brilliant, because it kept me quiet for five days straight…).  I kept that book on my bed stand until high school graduation and would open it at random and read enough to fall asleep.

I was obsessed…. I perfected reading-while-walking-to-school-without-tripping.  At night, I read with a flashlight under the covers.  At times, I was so lost in a book, I wouldn't hear conversations in the room.  I used to read MY books during class lessons (just prop your school book on the desk so the teacher sees that cover and use it to shield your book.  Presto!  Worked for a little bit each time.)  She always busted me though…  Not until I substitute-taught after college did I understand how obvious rapt attention in a social studies book, of all things, was a red flag something was amiss to a grade school teacher...

I wonder... Is it possible to know a little - or a lot - about someone and match the personality to the book piles?  In honor of the Nantucket Book Festival, the Nantucket Chronicle team has shared photos of their books.  Can you figure out who is who?  Must answer on the Chronicle page for a prize! 

Contest: Be the person to correctly pair (Follow the link to the full article on the WWW.NANTUCKETCHRONICLE.COM page) the most of the 14 photographs with their 'owners' (See below for list of the 13 of the Nantucket Chronicle captains + Meghan Valero, one of the Nantucket Book Festival’s organizers), to win a FREE ticket to the Nantucket Book Festival’s Pig Roast at Cisco, Sunday, June 17th, 2-5 pm!  There are 14 names (listed below) and 14 photos.  ID the photographs in the order they are shown on this page...  Click HERE for a link to the Captain bios, which might help!! 

Bonus: recommend YOUR favorite book!  Us bookworms are always looking for a good read...

1.     Barbara Gookin (Island Manager for the Chronicle)

2.     Beth English (Chronicle Dining Captain)

3.     Bill Ferrall (Chronicle Happening Captain)

4.     Georgen Charnes (Chronicle Dining Captain)

5.     Georgia Raysman (Chronicle Founder)

6.     Hilary Newall (Chronicle Home & Garden Captain)

7.     Jason Bridges (Chronicle Wellness Captain)

8.     Meghan Valero (Co-Founder of the Nantucket Book Festival & Pig Roast Ticket Donator!!)

9.     Missy Holden (Chronicle Dining Captain)

10.  Peter Brace (Chronicle Soundings Captain)

11.  Rachel Dowling (Chronicle People & Pets Captain)

12.  Rob Ranney (Chronicle Real Estate Captain)

13.  Sara Boyce (Chronicle Arts & Entertainment Captain)

14.  Burton (Spruce) Balkind (Chronicle Soundings Mate)


The pictorial advantage of having books in hard copy inspires me! If I were to show my bookstack, it'd be 1000's high and all with the profile of a Kindle! But that suits me - the aeroplane companies would charge me more than the books are worth were I to carry them all with me in hard copy! And thereby sounds the knell... are .mobi books killing the 'luxury' - or could i be 'extravagance' of a hard-copy book? What will future festivals do with the Gray Lady - and yes, its a serendipity that the Kindle is all about Gray! What book festivals does the future hold, specially when the future is .mobi (.mobi is the e-book format for the Kindle)? Dare I say, even Amazon does thousands of FREE (free!!!) e-books in Kindle format - almost entirely those out of copyright - but valuable Classics - Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe - to name but a few. Whither the hard-copy book? And the future of Nantucket BookFests? To pun on an island Classic - "Mobi Dick is coming!"

Hector, this is a great unanswered question--but maybe the answer IS right there, staring us in the face--in X years (pick your number:  5, 10, 25?) there will be virtually no hard copies of books.  We'll be reading them all in some kind of electronic format.

Personally I'll feel sad about that (except for trees saved), because I relish the feeling of sitting down with an unread book (or maybe even an old favorite!), opening the spine, flipping through the pages.  I miss the tactile element, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that feeling.  But the convenience factor is so overwhelming:  carrying around tons of books in one device, never being without something to read....

Interestingly, one thing I have noticed is that sometimes, when I really love a book, I buy the hard copy anyway, even after I've read it on my kindle.  Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, for example, is such a wonderful book that I had to have it in real life.  Somehow holding it on my kindle just didn't give it the permanence I needed because I loved it so much.

And if I'm crazy about a book I've read electronically I'll buy it to give to my husband, or to a friend who I know will like it.  "Here, read this, you'll love it" is definitely something missing from the electronic book experience.

So maybe the demise of hard books will be forestalled a while by those impulses:  tactility, permanence, ability to share.  But for how long?

Since I spend my days sorting, housing, and caring for old photographs and documents, people find it surprising when I pull out my Kindle. Yes, yes, the feel of real pages, yes the small local bookstores, yes the availability of items in the library all argue for real books. But the business of my life, the juggling of purse and snacks and dolls and jackets and... you get the picture.... makes me love my Kindle.

However, I don't think the future of the codex is in jeopardy. Or book festivals. There is a huge publishing industry, and festivals will continue no matter what the format of the books.

Great idea Sara. It is fun guessing who owns which stack... mine might not be what people expect, although Facebook friends will have a clue. To whomever owns the stack with TWO copies of "Fifty Dresses That Changed The World" ...I would be happy to relieve you of one of those, should you require space on your shelf! :)

In response to Hector, convenience does not replace the tactile feeling, or the relaxing time enjoyed paging thru beautiful hard-cover books. I feel there will always be a market for these, especially art, food and lifestyle books. I would like to dedicate an entire room to my books, but I need more space.

Rob Ranney's picture

i agree with Barbara! Flipping through a book at a leisurely pace - while either sitting on Main Street or at a popular beach - enjoying Nantucket's breeezes or whatever reason .. is so quintessiantally Nantucket .. despite the venue - despite the book - despite the weather .. great piece!

This is fabulous! Love the article, and I love the idea of matching people to their books! hahahaa What people read, says a great deal about them, if they actually showed you their book shelf!! I have a book case that goes from floor to ceiling and books all over my house,! I do not lend nor throw them out! As no one returns, and I love them as though I wrote them myself! :))

OK, here goes:

Picture 1 = Mine                                                        Picture 8 = Meghan Blair

Picture 2 = Missy Holden                                         Picture 9 = Jason Bridges

Picture 3 = Rob Ranney                                           Picture 10 = Barbara Gookin

Picture 4 = Georgen Charnes (easy!)                    Picture 11 = Bill Ferrall (a couple of hints there)

Picture 5 = Beth English                                           Picture 12 = Spruce Balkind (that was hard!)

Picture 6 = Hilary Newell                                          Picture 13 = Peter Brace

Picture 7 = Rachel Dowling                                     Picture 14 = Sara Boyce

I was just adding the Atheneum Used Book Sale on July 7th to the Chronicle's new Calendar of Events and I thought this would be a good place to share, seeing some of the ridiculous piles of books above:

You cannot donate to the Atheneum until the fall, but for information on how to donate used books from September 10-May 10:

Also, on their website it says book sales volunteers are needed throughout the year to sort, package and display the thousands of books that are received. The Atheneum asks for volunteers to sign-up online at or email [email protected].

Excuse me, Alyssa-- I hope you're not referring to my stack of books! (smile).  For me, no stack of books is too tall.

Haha I guess I just love bookcases, I pretty much don't have towering stacks of books.  I also, even as a young child, kept my bookshelf in strict alphabetical order by author's last name...omg I'm beginning to think I have real issues

I'm fascinated to see how many of these collections, in addition to my own, could also be mine. I should be spending more time with a few of my fellow stackers.

I just got a new bookcase for some of my piles and I am ecstatic!  Barbara, upon closer inspection of that photo, there is one copy Fifty Dresses... and one copy of Fifty Shoes..., both of which should be in your permanent collection someday!

Here's my guesses:

1.     Barbara Gookin (Island Manager for the Chronicle) #2

2.     Beth English (Chronicle Dining Captain) 6

3.     Bill Ferrall (Chronicle Happening Captain) 13

4.     Georgen Charnes (Chronicle Dining Captain)

5.     Georgia Raysman (Chronicle Founder) 14

6.     Hilary Newall (Chronicle Home & Garden Captain) 9

7.     Jason Bridges (Chronicle Wellness Captain) 9

8.     Meghan Valero (Co-Founder of the Nantucket Book Festival & Pig Roast Ticket Donator!!) 10

9.     Missy Holden (Chronicle Dining Captain) 8

10.  Peter Brace (Chronicle Soundings Captain) #1

11.  Rachel Dowling (Chronicle People & Pets Captain) 7

12.  Rob Ranney (Chronicle Real Estate Captain) 11

13.  Sara Boyce (Chronicle Arts & Entertainment Captain) #5

14.  Burton (Spruce) Balkind (Chronicle Soundings Mate) 12

Sara Boyce's picture

We are so close to the final answers!!!!  Any more guesses?????


Peter B. Brace's picture

OK, bring in the Pig!


1 - Georgia Raysman

2 - Jason Bridges

3 - Rob Ranneu

4. Georgen Charnes

5 - Megan Valero

6 - Beth English

7 - Rachel Dowling

8 - Bill Ferrall

9 - Barbara Gookin

10 - Missy Holden

11 - Hilary Newell

12 - Burton Balkind

13  - Peter Brace

14 - Sara Boyce

Rob Ranney's picture

My guesses are:

Barbara Gookin = 10

Beth English = 5

Bill Ferrall = 2

Georgen Charnes = 4

Georgia Raysman = 1

Hillary Newell = 6

Jason Bridges = 9

Meghan Valero = 11

Missy Holden = 8

Peter Brace = 13

Rachel Dowling = 7

Rob Ranney = 3

Sara Boyce = 14

Burton (Spruce) Balkind = 12

Sara Boyce's picture

Hey folks!  Here is the list of book stack | shelf owners! 


1.     Georgia Raysman

2.     Bill Farrell

3.     Rob Ranney

4.     Georgen Charnes

5.     Beth English

6.      Hilary Newell

7.      Rachel Dowling

8.      Sara Boyce

9.      Missy Holden

10.   Meghan Valero

11.   Jason Bridges

12.   Spruce Balkind

13.   Peter Brace

14.   Barbara Gookin


Hey.... NOBODY guessed my stack correctly. I even included a MAJOR clue to anybody who knows me on facebook. I host a page called "Monet of The Day" and purposely shot the photo so my huge "MONET" title was showing. Hmmmph! Photo #14 was mine.
(Fine Arts/Fashion Illustration major in college)