Last week I started a Tumblr account for The Battery Park City Branch. I'm thinking it will be used for content too long for Twitter and too short for this blog. The majority of the first few posts have been about library related ephemera: comic book art depicting libraries, things found in library books, and anonymous snapshots.
I've always been drawn to found photographs, those discarded documents of someone else's life. Someone else's memories drawn by light on paper.
Over the years I've managed to accumulate more than I'd like to admit, from vintage Photomatic and photobooth photographs to snapshots that depict the shadow of the photographer and vintage photographs of people reading.
One of the "people reading" photos that has always stood out shows a girl of about 11 or 12 years old at a family gathering. From the expression on her face it is obvious that she does not want to be there. It is something we can all relate to at that age: dressing in our Sunday best, the forced attendance, the awkwardness of all the unwanted attention.
Her expression shows her displeasure in the family obligations that brought her to that couch in that room.
Like so many teens in these situations, she loses herself in a book.
The photograph is dated May 1955. I began to wonder: in 1955, what would a girl at that age, with that attitude and that expression, be reading?
The photo brings to mind Sally Draper. If you watch the television show Mad Men then you've seen Sally grow from a cute and innocent girl in season one to a rebellious and vocal young teenager in season four. I have a feeling the girl in the photograph and Sally Draper have similar personalities and tastes in literature, but I'm no expert in children's and young adult materials. What books would they and teenage girls like them be reading?
We've seen that Sally reads Nancy Drew, but what other books do you think are on Sally Draper's bookshelf? What books are on her library card? What book does she lose herself in at family gatherings? How about what the Sally Drapers of today are reading? A contrast between a book from that time period and one from today?
I've listed some titles below, all originally published in 1955, 1964, and 1965, the year the photo was taken and the years in which Mad Men season four take place. The hope though is that the Sally Draper Reading List will grow with recommendations from those in the know, so please offer your suggestions!
The Witch Tree Symbol - Carolyn Keene
An Episode of Sparrows - Rumer Godden
Beezus and Ramona - Beverly Cleary
Plain Girl - Virginia Sorensen
The Magician's Nephew - C.S. Lewis
1964 and 1965
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh
Over Sea, Under Stone - Susan Cooper
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Ian Fleming
The Phantom of Pine Hill - Carolyn Keene
The Long Secret - Louise Fitzhugh
The Black Cauldron - Lloyd Alexander
The Mouse and the Motorcycle - Beverly Cleary
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds - Paul Zindel
1/19/12 update! The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène Du Bois is also on Sally's bookshelf.
1/23/12 update: In the episode "The Inheritance" (2.10) Betty Draper and Glen Bishop are watching cartoons. On top of the television are copies of the 1959 editions of Collier's Junior Classics Volume 1 (Fairy Tales And Fables) and 7 (The Aninmal Book).
5/16/12 update: As guessed, Lloyd Alexander's The Black Cauldron was definitely on Sally's bookshelf, as she's reading the book in the episode "Dark Shadows" (5.9). Click here for more details.
5/24/13 update: eek! Sally is grown up and reading Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin in the episode "The Crash" (6.8).