Bright Young Collectors: Rose Berman
Our Bright Young Collectors series continues today with Rose Berman, who recently won third prize at the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. Rose collects Antoine de Saint Exupéry.
Where are you from / where do you live?
I'm from Gaithersburg, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. I'm currently gearing up to move to France to teach English for a year.
What did you study at University? What do you do now for an occupation?
I studied history at the University of Chicago and wrote my bachelor's thesis on the French memory of World War I during World War II. Though I will be teaching English to elementary-schoolers in Avignon this coming year, I am in the midst of switching paths to attend medical school.
Please introduce us to your book collection. What areas do you collect in?
I collect books by and about the French author Antoine de Saint Exupéry (you may have read his most famous book, The Little Prince!). I also collect books about the airline he flew for, Aéropostale, and his fellow pilots. Most of my collection is in French, but I have a few of the English translations of his works. I especially value books with photographs and anecdotes I haven't seen before.
How many books are in your collection?
About 50 so far.
What was the first book you bought for your collection?
My first book was actually a present from my dad on my eleventh birthday--a copy of The Little Prince. From then on, I was hooked on Saint Exupéry; I think my first purchase was the English translation of Terre des hommes, which I got at Borders (may it rest in peace...).
How about the most recent book?
Saint Exupéry in America, 1942-1943 by Adele Breaux. It's a memoir by a young teacher who tried to teach Saint Exupéry English during his brief stint in New York. I first read the book in the Library of Congress and have wanted it ever since for its amusing anecdotes...this summer I finally sprung for it.
And your favorite book in your collection?
I love my first edition of Pilote de guerre for its special story. The Nazis did not allow the book to be published in France during the war, so it was instead published in New York out of a respected French bookstore. When I learned this story from a biography, I tracked down the book on AbeBooks. It includes a carefully preserved erratum note in the front.
Best bargain you've found?
A lot of my books seem like they should be worth a lot more than I paid; the first edition Pilote de guerre was about $35. I was pleasantly surprised!
How about The One that Got Away?
It's not a book, but a whole bookstore...during an exchange visit to France when I was 16, my host father took me to an aviation-themed used bookstore somewhere in Paris. I cleared out a whole shelf and found many of my most prized books. I want to go there again, but the Internet hasn't helped and even my host father doesn't remember the name of the place!
What would be the Holy Grail for your collection?
I would love to have a letter written by Saint-Ex or one of his friends (his manuscripts are mostly in libraries now). I'd also like to track down a copy of an extremely rare book, Chez les fils du désert, written by two Aéropostale pilots who were held prisoner in the Sahara.
Who is your favorite bookseller / bookstore?
I love the unique books and academic focus of the Seminary Co-op Bookstore in Hyde Park, Chicago. But I find most of the books for my collection online or in France.
What would you collect if you didn't collect books?
In a fantasy world, antique airplanes! More realistically, fountain pens or tiny clocks.
(Nominations for Bright Young Collectors (including self-nominations) are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org)