At Home with the Library

The history of the American Library is interwoven with those of the writers who have made Paris their home, however briefly. Lawrence Ferlinghetti composed poems while wandering the stacks. Henry Miller wrote letters to the librarian asking for books on Zen Buddhism. Mary McCarthy complained to the director that we didn’t have enough copies of her books. Sylvia Beach donated books to the Library. We cherish these stories as much as the volumes on our shelves.

In honor of the Library’s 100th birthday this year, we’ve launched At Home with the Library, where stars from the stage and the page are reading snippets from the works of these writers on video, all filmed at home. You’ll enjoy the words of Richard WrightJulia Child, and Colette, all frequent guests at the Library, being brought to life by such luminaries as Claire MessudAlan CummingHala Alyan, and Blythe Danner. At Home with the Library is designed to help you discover or rediscover authors as you might when browsing the shelves, picking up a book, flipping to a page, and being carried away.

Every few days in May (our birthday month), a new reading will be launched on our Instagram account via IGTV and on our Youtube channel.  You can also watch the videos here, on the At Home with the Library webpage. Make sure to follow us on Facebook,  Instagram, and YouTube for the latest updates.

A special thanks to Denis O’Hare for his inspiration and leadership on the project.

Denis O'Hare reads Gertrude Stein

Acclaimed theater, television, and film star Denis O’Hare reads from Gertrude Stein. Stein, the doyenne of American expat writers, wrote for the American Library’s newsletter and was a frequent patron. She and her partner Alice B. Toklas purportedly argued in the stacks, but the books will never tell.

Jake Lamar reads Richard Wright

In this edition of At Home with the Library, Jake Lamar reads a short passage from Richard Wright’s Black Boy. Lamar is the author of six novels, a memoir, and a play, Brothers in Exile, about Wright, James Baldwin, and Chester Himes. Wright was a frequent patron of the American Library.

Dana Thomas reads Edith Wharton

Our reader for this edition of At Home with the Library is Dana Thomas, a style writer and author of Fashionopolis, the NY Times Bestseller Deluxe, and Gods & Kings. She is also a longtime member of the American Library. She will be reading from Edith Wharton, who was one of the Library’s first trustees and supporters.

Michael Cristofer reads William Styron

Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cristofer reads a raw and ribald selection from William Styron in this edition of At Home with the Library. Cristofer is also known for his role as Phillip Price on the show Mr. Robot. Styron was a Library member, donor, and speaker.

Linda Emond reads Julia Child

Reading from the wonderful Julia Child is Tony Award nominated actress Linda Emond. Emond starred as Simone Beck in the film ‘Julie & Julia’, about Julia Child and French cooking, so her reading from Child’s ‘My Life in France’ is very appropriate. The Library relies on donations and individual donors, like Julia Child, have been crucial to the Library staying open for 100 years.

This video contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. In accordance with our mission as a non-profit literary and cultural organization, we are sharing this material as a public service, for purely educational purposes. We are sharing less than ten percent of the copyrighted work, and with respect to the previous findings of U.S. courts, we believe the use of this material conforms to U.S. and international fair use laws.