Girls at Library: Did you vote today?
Leah Plessner: I did! Catbird opened late so we could all have ample time to cast our votes. I wore my internet friend Victoria Thorne's Pussy in a Pussy Bow tee shirt.
GAL: What is the power of story?
LP: My mom was not a huge reader but she indulged me at the library and bookstore in a way she didn’t with anything material. She was the most beautiful person - good, wildly loyal, honest, funny and...very literal. I don’t think she understood that more imaginary side of me, but she fed it in the most profound way. Reading showed me that I too could be decent and good while building a beautiful life for myself fueled by imagination that thrived on the inside.
GAL: Do you have a current – or “forever” – favorite book?
LP: Charlotte’s Web
GAL: Why do you love Charlotte's Web?
LP: I simply love every word. His magnum opus (E.B. White's) is about her magnum opus (Charlotte's), her egg sac, "the finest thing she had ever made." I can think of nothing more beautiful than a man pouring all he knows about life, and his craft, into the voice of one grey spider and a radiant pig. When my mom died, I read our childhood Weekly Reader copy of Charlotte's Web and it vibrated, every word felt charged with electricity. "From three to four, he planned to stand perfectly still and think of what it was like to be alive, and to wait for Fern." I was Wilbur and Charlotte's Web helped loosen the knot of waiting for my mother to come home into living all the rest of my seasons without her. Spring will come, there will be new little spiders.
GAL: Do you have a favorite reading spot?
LP: I follow the light - my grandmother’s couch in the front room in the morning, the corner of the back couch in the afternoon, and then, late in the day, a bench in the park behind my house, when the air is a little crisp and the sun slants just so. At night, the bathtub and bed. Teepee is always sleeping next to me.
GAL: Is place important, or can you read pretty much anywhere?
LP: I can read anywhere. A few weeks ago, there was a little window seat in my hotel room in Stockholm and the sun was shining on the water right outside my window, and the just barely pink palace was across the way. There were swans under the bridge and strong room-service coffee and I suddenly remembered that I had always wanted a window seat to read on. So I snuck in a few pages while my husband was in the shower. That was an especially nice place to read.
GAL: How often do you read?
LP: I try and read everyday, at least a few pages.
GAL: If you were to dress a female author or character in Catbird jewelry, who would it be and what would you adorn them with?
LP: I would put kindred spirits Anne Shirley and Diana Barry in our Full Heart Necklaces.
GAL: Who is your favorite author?
LP: Virginia Woolf.
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?
LP: Charlotte’s Web
Tiny Beautiful Things
The Neapolitan Novels
The Portrait of a Lady Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle
My Mother's House
GAL: What was the name of the first book you fell in love with, that turned you into a life long reader?
LP: Goodnight Moon, and Madeline. When my mother read them aloud to us - the cadence and the warmth of her voice was a bath of love. Madeline showed me that there was a magical place called Paris (never mind if I ever went there or not) and Goodnight Moon showed me that words could feel like music.
GAL: Is it important for you to physically hold a book you read?
LP: Yes, it is important to me to hold a book. I love bookstores (I once worked at Politics & Prose, a very wonderful one). I do like to always have a long article or a Paris Review interview pulled up on my phone when I can’t sleep in the middle of the night though. I like to collect quotes and literary ephemera on my Twitter feed, and I do that on my device.
GAL: Do you prefer non-fiction to fiction?
LP: I prefer fiction, or non-fiction that feels like fiction.
GAL: What genre of non-fiction do you prefer?
LP: Biography, autobiography, group stories.
GAL: How do you choose the books you read?
LP: Feeling. I like to read seasonally, and in circles
GAL: Do you have a favorite bookshop in Brooklyn?
GAL: If you were to write your memoir, what would you title it?
LP: As Long as There is Me There is You