The Big One: Our 30th Birthday and Diane Ackerman

Customers in LinePerhaps you’d heard? This is our 30th year in business! So, like any good independent business, we threw ourselves a party, and lots of you wonderful folks came!

And when I say lots, I do mean lots… It must be our charm. Or our 30% off sale. Or the lure of Diane Ackerman. You decide.

There is no doubt that without all of the support from wonderful customers like youCustomer with Books (and like this guy!), we wouldn’t be here. So thank you!

Before Diane went on, we had our prize drawing — for which, I might add, we had an overwhelming number of entries. We hope you all liked your prizes!

And then, it was time for the Author. She took the stage (or rather, the podium), and proceeded to entrance all 150 of us with the background of The Zookeeper’s Wife:

A true story— as powerful as “Schindler’s List”— in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.

When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw— and the city’s zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen “guests” hid inside the Zabinskis’ villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants— otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.

With her exuberant prose and exquisite sensitivity to the natural world, Diane Ackerman engages us viscerally in the lives of the zoo animals, their keepers, and their hidden visitors. She shows us how Antonina refused to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery, keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her. 8 pages of illustrations.

It was an amazing talk by an amazing woman — I reread bits of my copy of A Natural History of the Senses (which has now been signed!) every few months, so I’m already a fan. But I think that even if I wasn’t, that talk would have been enough to convert me.

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