Rachael is a multi-faceted creative entrepreneur based in New York City. Besides working on brand content and websites for people like Sight Unseen and Care/of. As the founder of Human NYC, Rachael is also behind the online publication The Working Pair. She loves nothing more than getting her hands on a book despite being a super busy person. That is, a REAL, 3D book. It's not surprising that someone who works in front of a screen craves the physicality of holding and cherishing a book - something many of us relate to as we make our way through an overwhelmingly digital age.
GAL: What was the name of the first book you fell in love with?
RY: I remember reading Mr. Pine's Purple House at my Grandmom’s house. I remember reading the Little House On The Prairie books with my mom. I have read all of Jane Green’s books, which made we want to live in London and be a stylish publicist or writer.
GAL: Is there a particular character from fiction with whom you strongly identify?
RY: Pippi Longstocking! Telling tall tales, no manners, and I'd like to think I am superhumanly strong.
GAL: How do you choose the books you read?
RY: If there’s a bookstore nearby I will always wander in. Last weekend we checked out Spotty Dog | Books & Ale in Hudson, NY and I bought Bluets by Maggie Nelson. I’ll browse through what the bookstore is carrying or talk to a salesperson about what they’re reading or what I should read. I recently stopped into 192 Books on 10th Ave. in the city and was recommended the novel Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker which I consumed. I read recommendations from friends. Though I do judge books by their covers. For example, Against Everything: Essays book by Mark Greif looks perfect to me. I also read zines; Apartmento I read religiously as well as: The Gentlewoman, Human Being Journal by Need Supply, Wilder Quarterly, The Travel Almanac, The New Yorker. I am also getting more interested in essays; I enjoy anything by David Sedaris and Lydia Davis.
GAL: Where do you shop for zines in NYC?
GAL: Is it important for you to physically hold a book you read?
RY: ONLY PHYSICAL BOOKS! I prefer to hold books. The covers, the pages, the smell; I think the book makes the act of reading. I surround myself with books at home and at work, I like to look over and be reminded of the stories I have read or what I have learned from a book or be excited to finish what I am currently reading so that I can start a new one.
GAL: Can you read anywhere?
RY: I wish I could read in the car. I grew up watching my mom read the whole way on long car trips headed camping or on an adventure (well, maybe it was purposefully to zone us out) but she would tuck in and look so happy reading. Reading in bed or by a campfire are my favorite spots. Or by Silvia Lake in a big Adirondack chair with a cup of coffee in the morning when the lake is calm.
GAL: Describe some ways in which fictional narratives have impacted you and your life.
RY: I am a romantic and I love conversations between people. Reading has made me enjoy human nature to the max. The power of story is that you never feel alone. When I am reading I am either identifying with the story or learning from it. Stories are infinite and make the world a more hopeful place.
GAL: Who is your favorite author?
RY: Joan Didion.
GAL: Are there any books you tend to look at specifically for artistic inspiration?
RY: My brother gave me Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon and my friend Emma gave me The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield (Emma: I’ll return that eventually!).
GAL: Do you dabble in non-fiction?
RY: My great Aunt Mary reads non-fiction and is always telling me about the lives of presidents or pilots. I read fiction! I do want to read The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin though. If I do read non-fiction it’s generally about a person I am interested in. I love Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road.
GAL: How often do you read? Do you have a current favorite book?
RY: I read about three hours on the weekends and a little during the week if a can in the morning or before bed. Right now I am reading Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. My forever favorite book is Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived. I want to turn it into a movie someday.
GAL: If you hosted a small dinner party in your Chinatown apartment with three characters from fiction novels, who would you invite and why?
What would you serve?
RY: Huckleberry Finn, Santiago from The Alchemist, Sherlock Holmes; we'd have so many adventures to talk about! I would serve guacamole and tacos.
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?
RY: Ah! I don’t re-read books, there are too many out there to read for the first time around. One book I do return to for work is REWORK which I got from 37signals. It reminds me to be nimble and do what I can with what I have. I also have the site reads.nyc full of work books that myself and people I work with like to refer to! My cousin gave me Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus years ago and I think it is one of the best stories ever told about two caterpillars finding the real meaning of life. The Dot and the Line by Norton Juster is the sweetest book, a true romance.
GAL: If you were to write your memoir, what would you title it?
RY: Strawberry Rhubarb Pies and A Girl Her Dad Called Rocky Who Grew Into A Woman Called Rae Not Unlike The Sunshine.
GAL: Please name three books you recommend reading, and the reasons for your choices.
RY: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith -- it’s this beautiful aspirational story everyone can love.
Mr. Vertigo by Paul Auster -- Comical, well written, all American, and about levitation.
A Field Guide To Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit -- Fluid, transformative, interpretive.