MemberSeptember 7, 2020 at 6:20 pm
I’ve always loved books, and worked in a bookstore during my high school years and in my university’s library during college. During college, I also had a job as an intern for a local publisher. After college, I became a high school English teacher and have been a teacher for most of my career. I took a decade-long maternity leave while I raised my two sons (because the daycare for two was more than my teaching salary) and during that time became interested in collecting books. I found a mentor in a local antiquarian bookseller and worked for him at couple of San Francisco book fairs. Over time, I learned enough to start my own little antiquarian book business in 2007 and was fortunate enough to earn scholarships to attend Rare Book School programs (yes, they exist!) at UCLA and University of Virginia. There is a fantastic Rare Book School in London, England, and it is my dream to attend that some day as well. Now, here I am, trying to write a book. I guess the common theme in my life and in my career is books. I absolutely love books!
As my boys grew older, we wanted for them to attend a private, all-boys high school near our home. I was fortunate enough to secure a full-time job teaching English there (much to my sons’ chagrin) nine years ago. Full time employment there comes with the job perk of free tuition for one’s children. Both boys have since graduated, but I have stayed on to teach because I love it there. Teaching a room full of 30 teenagers (times 5 classes of that per day) is simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating. I always say that I have never once gone home from work without laughing or smiling. I have not met many people who can say the same.
I have mountains of papers and essays to grade when I’m not in the classroom, and I spend about 20 hours per week outside of the 40 hours of classroom time grading papers. Although teaching requires a great deal of time and effort and can be stressful (particularly now, during Covid), it has provided enough for my family to put one son through college and is now paying for the other to attend. Since Covid, my school has been teaching all classes online since last March. We may be returning to the classroom with smaller groups as early as mid-October, but my guess is that it will not likely be before the spring semester.
I spend time on my antiquarian book business mostly during the summer and Christmas holiday breaks. That job has three main duties: 1) hunt for good books, 2) research and write descriptions for the books, and 3) market and sell the books. I love to scout books everywhere I go (local estate sales here are sometimes a good source), and I also enjoy doing research. I mainly sold books at four antiquarian book fairs per year and online. Sadly, the rents in Silicon Valley are much too high to consider having an open shop. Maybe some day.
In fact, owning my own antiquarian book shop is also part of my dream. Retire from the long hours of teaching, open an antiquarian book shop, and write books. Now that’s the life!