Teen Speaks: A Journey to Read More Books by Women

Installation view of The Library of Particular Significance. Photo by Gary Sexton Photography.

Artist Josh Greene's two-part exhibition Bound to Be Held: A Book Show celebrates the relationship between a reader and a book. One part of the exhibition, The Library of Particular Significance, focuses on instigating social interaction by recasting the gallery as a lending-library of donated "significant" books—a space for dwelling, reading, and connecting

A series of related public programs called In The Library of Particular Significance enlivens the space with read-ins, book discussions, and literary happenings led by special guests, from poets Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy to experimental filmmaker Craig Baldwin. This Friday from 12:30-1pm, a unique perspective will be highlighted: the voice of young writers born and raised in San Francisco. Curated by former Teen Art Connections (TAC) intern Molly Bond, the program is entitled Young Voices from the Urban Landscape and features local, emerging talent Frances Saux, Justus Honda, Colin Yap, Isaac Schott-Rosenfield, and Hanne Williams-Baron. 

Below, Molly reflects on books as objects, on reading the work of female writers, and on going from public programs intern to curator.

Photo by Leah Greenberg.

1. What book did you donate to The Library of Particular Significance (LPS)?
On Friday I will be donating Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor to The Library of Particular Significance. This choice would be no surprise to anybody who knows me; O'Connor has been my favorite writer since I stumbled upon her work over two years ago in my Creative Writing class, and my love for her work has always been intense. In fact, my love for her work has grown to shape my identity as a reader and a writer: her signature is even tattooed on my hip! Having just finished my first chapbook—a collection of nine short stories—I identify more than ever with young O'Connor's first novel. A novel which in many ways is experimental and far from "perfect," but which holds in it O'Connor's unmistakably mysterious voice, and which drips with her potential to become one of the most piercing and obstinate writers of the twentieth-century.

2. From your TAC experience, what is it like to go from interning in public programs to creating your own?
I never thought I would create my own CJM public program. The very thought of managing all the moving parts of a public program is overwhelming, and somewhat nerve-wracking. However, as a teen intern at The CJM I had the opportunity to watch the public programs process unfold. My responsibilities began small, but over the course of the internship, my mentors Gravity [Goldberg] and Natalia [Miller] entrusted me with larger duties, and less supervision, until I felt confident enough to tackle a program of my own. After working at many of The Museum's events, and after seeing the way Gravity and Natalia were able to create programs that fit with the themes of current exhibitions, I was given the opportunity to curate my own program that fits in with The CJM's Bound to Be Held: A Book Show. I would never have been able to organize this kind of event without both the guidance and modeling of my mentors, and my hands-on experience as a public programs intern.

3. Describe what makes a book “particularly significant” to you?

I see a book as "particularly significant" when it has an impressive impact on one or many of its readers. A book's impact can be seen in the way it changes the mindset of the reader, or any previously held beliefs the reader had before coming in contact with the book in question. For example, O'Connor's books swept away the biases I had obtained from growing up in a largely atheist environment; before reading her work, I hadn't comprehended the intricate ways in which art and religion can inform one another. Coincidentally, this lesson from O'Connor led me to apply to The CJM's TAC program so I could learn some of the ways in which Judaism and art interact. Her words changed the path of my life; what could be more significant than that?

All the books in the LPS have one thing in common: they are somehow significant to the person who donated them to the library. Thus, when looking through the shelves, the onlooker can be assured that every book present has made a big impact on at least one of its readers.

Installation view of The Library of Particular Significance. Photo by Gary Sexton Photography.

4. What is your opinion on how the book (as an object) has changed with the rise of tablets, e-readers, etc?
Most can agree that the specific feeling of a physical book
its weight, its smell, the size and shape of the type, the texture of the pagesis entirely different from the e-reader experience. However, not everyone agrees that a physical book holds more importance or worth. As tablets and e-readers become increasingly popular, the art-form of physical books is diminished; we forget that much of the reading experience comes from holding and interacting with an object, from filling physical shelves with physical books rather than downloading information onto a machine. We forget how finding a book can sometimes be a kind of journey that adds to the reading experience: I will not forget my hike up steep Powell street to City Lights books, where I bought my first copy of O'Connor's personal letters. I am of the firm belief that books in their physical form will never be completely forgotten, even with the seemingly unstoppable rise of e-readers and other technology; there is just no satisfactory way to alter the reading experience, because it is already perfect the way it is.

5. Tell us about your ideal reading setting.
I most often read in a solitary setting, especially in my bedroom, where I can lie in bed with my book and have a cat or two by my side. The interesting thing about a poetry reading is that it takes the reading experience out of a solitary setting, and into a group environment. The experiences of solitary readings and group readings are highly different, but in my opinion are equally valid and enjoyable. My favorite poetry readings are those where the group dynamic lends power to the readers, allowing individual listeners to be swept away from their personal worlds and into the world of the reader on stage.

6. What are you reading now?
I finished The Cider House Rules by John Irving yesterday, and have just begun reading To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. My goal for the summer is to read more books by women, because in my efforts to read the classics, and in the male bias of many of my English classes, the majority of the books I've read are by men. It is especially important for me, as a woman writer attending a women's college in the Fall, to read the work of women.


About the Author

Molly Bond will be attending Smith College in the Fall of 2015. She recently finished her first collection of short stories, entitled I Turned to the Water and Jumped. She loves Flannery O'Connor.


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