“Lots of people, Sasquatchers, lots of Nancy, lots of wine . . . ” That’s the report we received Tuesday morning following Nancy Pearl’s acceptance of her Lifetime Achievement Award presented at Elliott Bay Book Company on behalf of its indie store fraternity, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, and its 2011 Book Awards. The reporter was Cindy Heidemann, a regional book rep for Pearl’s publisher, Seattle’s Sasquatch Books.
Karen Maeda Allman, Elliott Bay’s Author Events director, shared this recap of Pearl’s speech: “Nancy, of course, said she didn’t like talking and then launched into a series of wonderful stories about everything from her active social life (just kidding, all she does is read—or so she says), the origins of the 50 pages rule (and her age-related amendment), and her conviction that a librarian’s job is to help people find the books they want to read and to replicate the experience the reader had with a book he or she loved.”
Before the six-volume Book Lust series, the action figure and T-shirt, and the gig on NPR’s Morning Edition, Pearl was grinding it out in the trenches of bookstores and libraries like so many other book-loving professionals. Allman mused about the time she realized Pearl’s star was seriously on the rise: “I’m remembering standing and having a conversation with her somewhere—maybe at Bumbershoot or the old [Northwest] Bookfest—and seeing all of the people around us start to look up and around. ‘Who’s that? I know that voice.'”
All these years later, we trust that voice to lead us to those places a good book can take us. As Pearl so aptly conveyed to the Elliott Bay crowd, “like being swept away somewhere.”