by Melinda Gallo

Jeff Shapiro at McRae Bookstore

I have been looking forward to meeting Jeff Shapiro for awhile. I found out that he was going to be at McRae bookstore last month, so I decided to buy one of his books, "Secrets of Sant'Angelo," when I stopped in one day. There were only two copies left in the shop and I wanted to make sure that I got a copy before Jeff came to the bookstore. That night I began reading the book and kept telling myself that I'd just read one more chapter even though it was late. My eyes were droopy, but I persevered and kept reading as long as I could.

After a full week of late-night reading, I finished the book and was happy and satisfied. I'm a picky reader and don't necessarily finish every book that I start; my bookshelves are littered with books that still have bookmarks in them. Some of them I have decided to eventually pick back up and read while others I have abandoned and will have to take them down to the Paperback Exchange at some point.

I was one of the first to arrive at the bookshop today for the book signing. I walked up the white staircase and into the room upstairs and heard a few voices. When I got upstairs, I introduced myself to Jeff and met his wife.

There was a small group of us and Jeff asked that we each introduce ourselves. One Italian woman who had read Jeff's books and loved them asked him if they were being translated into Italian for her Italian friends who would love to read his prose as well. We all talked together with Jeff before he officially started the book signing.

He told us his story of how he began writing and then read an excerpt of his book, "Renato's Luck." I love hearing an author read his/her books just to get their rhythm and sound in my head. I could've sat in that little room above the bookshop listening to him read even though I could still hear people walking outside and cars going by in the via dei Neri below.

Jeff signed both books for me and everyone else who came as well with much kindness. When I went to sleep, I began to read "Renato's Luck" and stayed up even later than I wanted to. I'm sure a full week of late nights are in my future.

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