Everything changes: Rachel Person

Rachel Person

Rachel Person

Everyone has a moment in life when things change. Sometimes we know it right away, other times we only recognize it looking back. With the turning of the year, we're taking some time to listen to people's stories about the moments that changed them, and what they've learned.

Rachel Person has spent her life surrounded by stories.

From the time she was young, the Albany High alum has been passionate about books. She spent six years working at Symphony Space in New York City as the associate director of the public radio program Selected Shorts: A Celebration of the Short Story. And today she's the events and community outreach coordinator at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs.

Her life's work has been about sharing stories with others, in part because books, like people, can change your perspective -- which in turn can change your life.

We talked with Rachel about the childhood book series, and the person, who helped guide her in her youth and still helps her out in a pinch today.


It's the books that made us readers that make us who we are. And for me it's probably the Anne of Green Gables series.

I've always been a history geek. I've always loved the past, historical fiction, so those, for me, were a sweet spot because they were set in the late 1800s. They're very specific to a time and place but they're also unrelentingly optimistic and not in a gross Pollyanna way.

You know, there's some dark undertones to those books. Anne's backstory is horrifying. We just listened to the audio book this summer with my kids in the car and my 12-year-old found Anne incredibly annoying because she's always so happy. It's so "Oh, Marilla, isn't this beautiful! Isn't this amazing!" But to me, her ability to see joy in the world and to see good in people is very aspirational. It's very much, I think, who I want to be. That she sees whimsy and she sees delight in places where it can frankly be really hard to do that. And I think that it's not something I necessarily always achieve -- but it's something that I want to be.

There is a family friend who I grew up with -- sort of my godmother -- who is probably the most Anne-like person in my life. And I have often, in situations where I'm feeling awkward or uncomfortable or a little unsure, thought, "Well, what would Connie do?"

People sparkle a little more when they're with her. They're a little more interesting, they're a little kinder as a response to what she is expecting from them and how she perceives them.

And I've tried to sort of pretend to be her -- including in awkward cocktail parties where I'm not sure what's going on. I think, "OK, well, I just have to pretend to be Connie." And it helps. It helps to go in with that. Because I've seen her my whole life and how she relates to people and how she engages with people. And if I can pretend to be her I'm much more comfortable.

Rachel Persons and Connie.jpg

She, like Anne, sees the good in people. She sees what's interesting in people, and because she is expecting what's good and interesting in people she draws that out of them. People sparkle a little more when they're with her. They're a little more interesting, they're a little kinder as a response to what she is expecting from them and how she perceives them.

And that's incredible to me. That's such a gift that she spreads around the world.

Everything changes

+ TaĆ­na Asili

+ Michael McDermott

+ Robyn DeSantis Ringler

+ Jonathan Lajas

+ Alicia Lea

Northshire has advertised on AOA.

The Scoop

For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

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