Married literati Molly Ringwald and Panio Gianopoulos go Christmas shopping for each other in Nolita. Their destination: A bookstore, of course
Molly Ringwald sits at a small table in the café of the McNally Jackson bookstore on Prince Street, her perfectly manicured fingernails wrapped around a cappuccino as the wedding ring given to her by husband Panio Gianopoulus, who sits across from her, catches the morning light.
At 42, Ringwald is still the beautiful redhead we fell in love with during her Brat Pack days, although she no longer emits the wonderfully sophomoric naiveté that characterized her as a teenage actress – fitting, given Ringwald’s ever expanding creative ambitions. Along with starring in ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Ringwald is releasing a jazz album in the spring and is currently promoting her first novel, the critically acclaimed When It Happens to You, which she’s adapting in to a screenplay that, naturally, she’d like to direct.
To be sure, Ringwald isn’t the only star of reinvention in the family. Gianopoulos, a former book editor with an MBA from Stanford whose nonfiction work has appeared in Salon, Glamour and Details, among other publications, recently published the novella A Familiar Beast and is currently researching for his second book, a novel called The Economy of Love. He and Ringwald live in Santa Monica with their three young children (a nine-year-old and three-year-old twins).
With the holidays soon approaching, we couldn’t imagine anyone better to ask for book recommendations than these two literary loves. We gave them two simple rules: Choose five books to give the other, and give five good reasons. The choices they made for one another give a telling glimpse into the lives of two authors in love — with each other and the written word.
“I really try to give myself certain periods of time, usually at night, where I just read,” says Ringwald. “Because I feel like if I don’t make the time, I won’t do it, and I’d be really sad if that was no longer a part of my life. I don’t want it to ever be something that I used to do.”
TO PANIO FROM MOLLY
Grief Lessons: Four Plays by Euripides
“Panio is a really big fan of Anne Carson’s. He’s one of the few people on the planet that actually seems to get her [laughing], which I love.”
de Kooning: An American Master
Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan
“I picked this one out because Panio’s writing a novel called The Economy of Love that has to do with an artist. He’s always doing research on different artists, and I heard really great things about this book.”
The Great American Novel
“Philip Roth is Panio’s favorite writer. He’s read every single Philip Roth book with the exception of this one. It was kind of miraculous that there was actually one that he hasn’t read, and that’s only because it’s about baseball…and Panio doesn’t like baseball.”
Babylon Revisited: And Other Stories
F. Scott Fitzgerald
“[F. Scott Fitzgerald] is one of those writers that I’ve read more than Panio, and since Panio just wrote a novella called The Familiar Beast and this is a novella, I thought this was the perfect time for him to read it.”
FOR MOLLY FROM PANIO
“Molly’s the jazz aficionado and the singer. You know, some gifts you give to your spouse or loved one because you’re going to share it, and some are just for them. This is really for her.”
“Molly got me into Hitchcock, and we’ve watched Hitchcock and Truffaut films together a lot. Also, she’s writing an adaptation of her book, which she wants to direct, so I thought what better book than this conversation between two masters about directing and film.”
The Map and the Territory
“Molly loved The Elementary Particles, as did I. There’s something really diabolical about him…this gleeful intelligence. Unlike the jazz book, which is strictly for her, this is one of those sneaky gifts where you try to get it for yourself.”
A Thousand Mornings
“Again, Mary Oliver we both love. Molly, I think, even acknowledged Mary in her first book because she loves her so much. She’s really a remarkable poet and woman.”
Too Loud a Solitude
“The first book I ever gave Molly was actually a book of his called I Served the King of England. I remember I wrote an inscription – I was really nervous; we had just started dating – and I ripped it out and wrote a new one. And when I gave it to her, she said, ‘What did you write the first time?’ And now I don’t remember. It’s this eternal mystery. She’ll never know what I wrote.”