A Peek Behind Allison’s Shelf

January 11 2018
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We’re taking you behind the scenes to meet the members of our incredible team, one-on-one. First up is Allison Tyler! A founding member, Allison is instrumental in the day-to-day operations at Off the Shelf. She believes a good book and a cup of tea help cure what ails you. In addition to writing some of our favorite lists and reviews, Allison is also the voice of our Twitter account. But after four wonderful years together, Allison is setting off on a new adventure, swapping books for birds.

What are some of your favorite books and authors?

Uh-oh, I could go on and on! A friend and I were just discussing informative books from when we were still in single-digit ages, so these are fresh in my mind: the Little Pear series by Eleanor Frances Lattimore, THIRTY-ONE BROTHERS AND SISTERS by Reba Paeff Mirsky, anything by Laura Ingalls Wilder or Roald Dahl, SLAKE’S LIMBO by Felice Holman, GERTRUDE KLOPPENBERG by Ruth Hooker…so many, too many. As an adult, M.F.K. Fisher, Laurie Colwin, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Charles Bukowski, Joseph Mitchell, Anne Lamott, Italo Calvino, Pema Chödrön, and Isabel Allende. Patrick Suskind’s PERFUME will haunt me forever, as will Eduardo Galeano’s THE BOOK OF EMBRACES, and Barbara Gowdy’s WE SO SELDOM LOOK ON LOVE.

You’ve worked in the world of high finance, done aerial acrobatics, and are now starting a new adventure with the American Eagle Foundation. What brought you to the publishing industry and to Off the Shelf?

Finance was interesting, but after working 24-hours straight over Christmas in 1999, I was ready to move on. A recruiter asked if I wanted to interview to assist the president of Simon & Schuster. I’ve always loved books and reading, so I jumped at the chance, was hired, and stayed for 18 years! I was lucky to begin working with Off the Shelf at its inception, and it’s been the most fun, illuminating, and creative part of my job. I’m excited to now pursue my love of wildlife and conservation, but equally excited that I’ll still be writing for Off the Shelf.

What do you do when you’re not reading?

I love exploring in the woods, traveling, making art, writing, running a little free library, volunteering with a raptor sanctuary and the American Eagle Foundation, working toward my falconry license, growing tons of dahlias in the warm months, and learning to weave.

What’s one book that changed your life?

Books are constantly changing my life! I was browsing my grandma’s bookshelf when I was about 10 years old and found her copy of CANARY by Canary Conn. My brother is gay so I wasn’t completely naive, but this book opened my eyes and heart to so many facets of humanity, especially what it means to be a transgendered person. Kudos to my now 92-year-old grandma for being so curious about and accepting of others, even 40 years ago!

Is there anything else Off the Shelf readers should know about you?

I want to encourage every reader to reach out to the writers they love, and let them know how much they value their book(s). Through both writing and sharing Off the Shelf’s reading lists and book recommendations, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with so many authors (most recently, Jonathan Evison who wrote THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE!—thank YOU!). I know firsthand how much writers deeply appreciate hearing from their readers. Life is short; share the love!


Some of Our Favorite Posts by Allison:

The Five Best Books I Read Last Year

The Art of Re-reading: Why M.F.K. Fisher’s Classic Food Essays Are More Relevant than Ever

Best Beach Reads: 12 Great Memoirs to Read This Summer

11 Books Inspired by Shakespeare

A LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE Reading List for Grown-Ups

The Art of Eating
M.F.K. Fisher

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The Japanese Lover
Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende’s latest novel spans from Poland in the 1930s to present-day San Francisco. This sweeping love story explores questions of identity, abandonment, redemption, and the unknowable impact of fate on our lives.

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Patrick Süskind

An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind’s classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man’s indulgence in his greatest passion—his sense of smell—leads to murder.

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The Book of Embraces
Eduardo Galeano

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We So Seldom Look on Love
Barbara Gowdy

In the apartment building across from theirs, six storeys above the ground, a cat walks along a balcony railing.

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