the living art of storytelling in Massachusetts

from Tony Toledo "Here are ten books I love....What are ten books you love?"

Sheeesh - I wish Tony would publish this stuff his own bad self - until he does?His writing is too good to be confined to a listserv only, so I will pass it along...

Here are ten books I love. What are ten books you love?
by Tony Toledo.

1. A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas Basbanes. HC 1995. 1st/3rd with the front end page ripped out. (How cruel some people can be.) This is my favorite book about books. Nick writes with great passion about books, libraries, book collectors and book thieves. When I read Nick's Among the Gently Mad: Book Collecting for the 21st Century where he said some of his favorite books were his orphan books (library discard books), I knew I could ask him to sign my Palm Beach County library discard copy of A Gentle Madness, which he did by writing "To Tony Toledo, With thanks for rescuing this book (to say it pisses me off is an understatement) Great to see you again. Keep telling those good stories. Nicholas A Basbanes." Then he circled the "Discarded: outdated, redundant material stamp" and added "and saved by Tony". I said that I loved it and he wrote "and loved too!" Nick signed my copy of Among the Gently Mad with the date in Roman Numerals. I loved that. Later I had to decipher them to retrieve the date.

2. The Way Of the Storyteller by Ruth Sawyer. HC. 1st/2nd. Sept 1942. Back in December of 1987 when I went to Lesly College to see Judith Black tell "Banned in the Western Suburbs" Robert Smith had his Yellow Moon Bookstore in the lobby. I purchased a Penguin paperback of The Way of the Storyteller. I read it through twice then read it again taking notes. Ruth Sawyer's love and respect for storytelling shines through with every word. Late to the cyber world I came yet when I arrived I was glad to be here. I purchased this first edition, second printing from a book dealer in Dayton, Ohio. On the front end paper is written "Lindy Pearson, Monneth Hall 461, 25 Redder Avenue, Dayton 5 Ohio" followed by "Told by Ruth Sawyer, March 19, 1947, Carnegie Library School, Gone is Gone- Gag (German), The Cock (Spanish), The Flea ( " " ), The Peddler of Bellaghadareen (Irish). March 19 Stephen Foster Memorial, The Frog (Spanish), The Peddler (Irish), The Magic Box (Italian)." On the half title page is written "To a Future Storyteller, Ruth Sawyer". I treasure this book. At least one other person must love it too. I donated a first edition /first printing to the National Storytelling Conference's auction several years back. They told me it got stolen.

3. Hearing From Wayne by Bill Franzen. HC. 1988. In 1993 I ruptured the Achilles Tendon in right leg when I slipped on icy steps at Simmons College. After the surgery I was to stay quiet for two weeks. KR, my wife, brought me a whole pile of books I had been wanting to read. Hearing from Wayne was one of them. It is full of the oddest stories about nuclear missile drivers, correspondence from the dead and rejection slips to a son from his parents who started a literary magazine. All I need do is see this book and I am transported back to our little apartment above Casa de Moda with my leg in a cast and me laughing out loud as I read. I was delighted to buy on line a signed copy for $10. I am glad the book seller did not know I would have paid a lot more.

4. Second Carrot from the End by Fred Beck. HC. 1946. The reads "The boy who was carried off by a roving band of carrots reveals the hilarious history of Hollywood's hectic Farmer's Market." On the front end page is written "To the Farmers Market's best dressed man-Curtis Weber. Fred Beck." I stumbled across this book at the Shire Book Shop in Franklin,MA. It is an hour and a half away from our Beverly home. I stopped by with my wife after we had gotten done with some tandem telling. She was surprised I knew of this off the beaten path book store. She was more surprised when a woman looked up and said, "Hi, Tony." and I replied, "Hi, Jean, how have you been?" Fred Beck's account of typing in the old monkey's cage is worth the price of admission.

5. Last Shop Standing: Whatever Happened to Record Shops? A journey through an Industry in Turmoil by Graham Jones. PB 2009. This book came to my attention when I noticed a link for it on the Independent Record Store Day web site. The excerpt there really got my attention. It made me laugh too. With only a few minutes of googling I found out Mr. Jones would be at the Whitby Bookshop in the end of May. I emailed the book store asking if he could sign a copy to me. They replied in the affirmative then I forgot to get my Visa number to them. At the end of June my signed copy lands in my mail box with a note requesting payment. Wow, that's trust and great customer service all in one. If you like records and music and stories about people who collect any CD that has a train on the cover- rap, country, pop, blues, no matter as long as it has a train on the cover- then you will like this book.

6. Humble Pie: Musings on what lies beneath the Crust by Anne Dimock. PB 2005. This is the best pie book I have had the pleasure to read. Anne said her mother and father bought a home in New Jersey that came with four apple trees in the back yard. She, her siblings and her mother could make up to eight pies at a time and still keep every thing straight. More than that and one got too much sugar, the other no cinnamon. Anne's mother had hundreds of frozen pies in a freezer in the basement. At any potluck they were only 55 minutes away from a hot apple pie. Much later in life Anne's life her mother died. Anne remembered those apples that grew in that New Jersey yard. Anne wrote, "The bags are packed and the airline tickets lie across the top of a briefcase. All that's left to do is to make those pies and go. Inside the briefcase is the eulogy I'm to deliver. I've written and rewritten it and I think it is okay for spoken words. But the unspoken eulogy is in the pies."

7. In the Face of Presumptions: Essays, Speeches, and Incidental Writings by Barry Moser. HC 2000. On November 30,2005 I checked my email at 11:15 AM. It said at 11:30 Barry Moser was speaking at Montserrat College of Art five minutes from our home. I grabbed my wife and off we went. Barry was funny, inspiring and demanding. I knew he is an engraver. I did not realize what an established, well respected figure he is in the art world. After his lecture I hunted up a copy of Presumptions. It is full of fine words about his art, his craft and his advice for beginners. He doesn't shy away from describing his own short comings. He leaves it to others to describe what ever glories he might have. A brilliant book.

8. What It Is by Linda Barry. 2008. HC. This is a book that will inspire you to write, draw, and create. There is nary a blank spot on any page. It is full of drawings, post it notes, essays, photographs and inspiration. There are pages like yellow legal pads that Linda writes her thoughts on drawing and writing and growing up. It took me six months to read those words five minutes at a time at SPEAK UP! our spoken word open mike in Lynn. Every one there was eager to hear what more she had to say. When the book was finished there was a little part of me sad wishing there was more. I will have to write it myself. And so I am.

9. The Little Chapel on the Hill: a pub, a town and the search for what matters by Gwendolyn Bounds. 2005. This book I got at from the For Sale shelf at the Concord Public Library. What a terrific writer Wendy is. After 9/11 she had to get out of New York City. By chance she stumbles across Guinan's in Garrison,NY. It's the tiniest neighborhood bar you are likely to see. It run by Jim Guinan and his family. The morning commuters come in to get their coffee, muffin, and NY Times. Jim does not allow folks working the counter to use a cash register or a calculator. You have to do all the math in your head. Which Wendy learns to do. She also learns about friendship, and respect and history. It made me sad to read Jim Guinan's obit in the Globe and I never even met him. That's the power of a good book. The bar closed down.

10. Mr. Wicker's Window by Carley Dawson. 1952. Aunt Rose, my wife's mother's sister, lived at Sweetwood, an assisted living center in Williamstown, MA. KR and I often visited Rose when we went to North Adams to visit her mother. Rose asked to borrow my first two Harry Potter books to see what the fuss was all about. When she was done reading them she gave them back. I had them under my arm as KR and I walked Rose to her dinning room. A kind old woman noticed them and said, "When I was younger I wrote a book about a boy, time travel and magic." That caught my ear. Rose introduced me to her friend Carley Dawson. It took me a year but I finally got all three books in Carley's trilogy, Mr. Wicker's Window, The Sign of the Seven Seas, and Dragon Run. She signed all three for me as I got them. In Mr. Wicker she wrote "To Tony Toledo- my favorite fan! Carley Dawson ( The anniversary of London wedding June 8, 1931. June 8, 2003" I liked this book so much I read it out loud every Thursday from 4 to 4:45 PM at the Beverly Public Library. The kids listening wrote to Carley. She wrote them back. I told them to always remember this because it would never happen in your life again that a book written 50 years ago has the author still alive, still sharp and still grateful that children still enjoy her books. Carley died in 2005.

Views: 188


You need to be a member of to add comments!



Grand Prize for South Shore Grand Slam Story Slam generously donated by Nicolette Heavey and Stories In The Streets (A Maine Get Away)

Stories in the Streets in an outreach literacy program that focuses on families in at-risk areas and fosters community engagement in storytelling by: 1) Creating opportunities for public storytelling wherever families gather — a farmer’s market, laundromat, or food line; and, 2) Offering storytelling workshops that raise family engagement in literacy, cultural awareness and community understanding.  The program is currently active in Lawrence, Brockton and Randolph.


  • Add Photos
  • View All


What is a story slam? Get the FAQs! 9 Replies

Started by Norah Dooley in Uncategorized. Last reply by Tamara Safford Feb 4, 2014.

Press Clippings 2012-2013 - Links and as a Pdf

Started by Norah Dooley in Sample Title Jun 26, 2013.

Storytelling is front page news in Boston...12/22/12 2 Replies

Started by Norah Dooley in Sample Title. Last reply by Brendyn Schneider Dec 23, 2012.

Grand Slam Story Slam Fuller Craft Museum May 7th

The South Shore story Slams presents The GRAND SLAM STORY SLAM MAY 5TH @The Company Theater 6:30PM the winners of Doyles and SS Story Slam Season compete for Maine Getaway valued at  $1,000. Get your tickets before they are gone $25.00 in advance $20.00 members at door $30.00 non members 



© 2021   Created by andrea lovett.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service