Classic books hold a special spot in Sacramento library director’s card catalog

No surprise, but Sacramento Public Library CEO/executive director Rivkah Sass is a voracious reader.

Her first book was “Grimms’ Fairy Tales,” gifted to her by a neighbor when Sass was 5 years old. Now her nightstand is typically stacked with an eclectic assortment of titles, most recently “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders,” “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides, “The Study of Animal Languages” by Lindsay Stern and “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith.

“I don’t have a favorite genre, but I will always read Laura Lippman because she writes about Baltimore,” Sass said. “When I’m feeling sorry for myself I’ll pick a romance by Georgette Heyer or Jennifer Crusie. They’re light and funny and let me forget everything else.”

A few treasured books hold special meaning for her, and she has kept the original copies and re-read them countless times over the decades:

“Heidi” by Johanna Spyri was part of a “children’s classics” collection that came with a set of encyclopedias her parents bought in 1958. “It’s one of the books (she and late husband Abe Sass) read aloud to each other on our honeymoon,” she recalled. “Everything that’s right is in this book.’”

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë. “My mother gave this to me when I was 10. Jane is my all-time favorite character in literature – she’s passionate, knows right from wrong, and has a really strong belief system.” Sass could be describing herself.

Her husband introduced Sass to ‘The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame. “If Abe was a character from the book, he would have been Mr. Toad,” she said.

“I love to cook, and one of the very first cookbooks I bought as a teen was “The Tassajara Bread Book” by Edward Espe Brown,” she said. “It taught me how to be quiet and reflective.”

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