Gia Salvaggio is a photography student living in a little town in Belgium. When she isn’t at school, she’s either taking pictures, reading all the classics or wandering in London to find some gems (and drink tea, too).
We got a glimpse into the book-ish path she follows while making her way around London.
Photos by: Simon Arthur
Girls At Library: What was the name of the first book you fell in love with, that turned you into a lifelong reader?
Gia Salvaggio: When I was a kid, my dad went to the market every sunday morning and bought me a Disney illustrated story. It was a 20 something pages book and I read it during the week eagerly waiting for my next one to arrive.
For the books that shaped my entire reading life, it’s no question The Harry Potter Saga same as probably everyone else in my generation.
GAL: What about searching for books around London inspires you?
GS: Finding a cute bookshop owner, marry him and living happily ever after like in Notting Hill.
No, but seriously, there are so many good things related to books in London. First you have The British Library, where to be honest, I could live. Then all the bookstores are amazingly cute and most importantly, literature is a huge part of their history: Austen, Hardy, Shakespeare, Rowling: just to name a few.
GAL: What to you, is the power of story? Describe some ways in which fictional narratives have impacted you and your life.
GS: When I read, I don’t think about what’s around me. I’m deeply immersed in the story , the characters and so on. I often find myself pissed to finish a good book quickly.
GAL: How often would you say you read? Everyday? Six hours a week? Please estimate.
GS: I carry a book in my bag all the time so I get at least an hour a day since I commute with the bus to school. On a good week, it’s 7 to 8 hours , on a bad one it’s 4 or 5 and when I’m on holiday I read most of the time.
GAL: Do you have a current – or “forever” – favorite book?
GS: Current: I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman - Nora Ephron
Forever: Postcards from the Edge - Carrie Fisher.
GAL: A great Nora Ephron book! Having first read 'I Feel Bad About My Neck' at Langer's, here in Los Angeles, knowing it was a place she loved, have you ever found yourself choosing a location based on an author or setting of a book?
GS: It hasn’t happened yet but there are books that influenced my “To visit” lists. With all the Manson/Tate stories I’ve been reading- I really want to go to California. And the English countryside would be perfect to read Tess Of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.
GAL: Still on Ephron, as a ‘young reader’ how did you feel when you read,“If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini and don’t take it off until you’re 34”?
GS: It made me laugh more than anything else, but thinking about it, she’s probably right since my love for working out is pretty much non-existent. I think, though I could be completely wrong, that it’s Fran Lebowitz who said something similar like “The worst picture of you at 25 will be your favorite when you’ll be 70". It’s a funny thing to see how some women approach growing old. I’ve got no issues with that , though I should do some physical effort since procrastination isn't a sport per-se.
GAL: Who is your favorite author? (If impossible to choose please name two.)
GS: Carrie Fisher, her sarcastic humor gets me every-time and Joan Didion, because if she isn’t on your favorites list, I don’t trust you.
GAL: We have a friend who has a “Sanity Shelf” dedicated to books she returns to again and again, to reread for pleasure, knowledge, and solace. What books would be on your Sanity Shelf?
GS: Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen, Valley Of The Dolls - Jacqueline Susann and Bonjour Tristesse - Françoise Sagan
GAL: Do you have a current favorite reading spot? Where is it?
GS: My bed is always my favorite.
GAL: Or – can you read anywhere - place is not important?
GS: But I can read anywhere, anytime. Laying, sitting or standing up. I read mostly in the bus because it’s the most annoying place to be and reading makes it a pleasant way to spend my journey
GAL: Is it important for you to physically hold a book you read? Or can you read on a device with no problem and no impact on the experience?
GS: I can read on a kindle or on my Iphone but a book stays a book. I was actually thinking how perfect the format of the book i’m reading at the moment is and (nerd alert) it made me happy.
Also , second hands books have the best smell.
GAL: What are currently reading?
GS: I’ve just started NW by Zadie Smith. I’m only a few pages in but it’s pretty good so far.
GAL: How do you choose the books you read?
GS: I have different methods : my grandma is an avid reader and most of the time we exchange recommendations, I also find Goodreads to be a great platform to discover old or new books and make wish lists. But mostly, I walk around book stores and I read the synopsis on the back.
PS: A good cover always help (I know, I shouldn’t judge that but I can’t help it)
GAL: If you read non-fiction, what genre do you prefer?
GS: Man, a good crime or a biography. I realized recently that the last five books I read were all related somehow to Sharon Tate and her murder. It’s mixed with fiction (The Girls - Emma Cline, Valley Of The Dolls and California Girls - Simon Liberati) and non-fiction (Roman by Polanski - Roman Polanski and Helter Skelter - Vincent Bugliosi). This is the beauty of literature, from one subject you get different stories and perspectives, it can be fictional or not.
GAL: If you were to write your memoir, what would you title it?
GS: Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.
GAL: Please name at least three books you recommend reading, and the reasons for your choices.
GS: My Life in France - Julia Child : This book is such a love letter to life from the most optimistic person ever. Julia Child had such a positive way of thinking and living , that’s a lesson we can all learn. She may have found her passion late in life but she enjoyed it until her last day and that’s a real inspiring story. (To read while enjoying some bread, cheese and wine, you’re welcome).
The First Bad Man - Miranda July : This is like anything else I’ve ever read. Miranda July has this unique way to tell a story. I made my boyfriend read it, and at first he was skeptical but in the end he loved it.
The Year Of The Magical Thinking - Joan Didion : This book speaks to everyone who has gone through a loss. It’s a powerful story about life and love and how to grieve.