How would you describe your job?
I do a lot of book data stuff for Powell’s, getting book information into our computer system, and I help the people who order new books. I also order for our graphic novel section.
Where are you originally from?
I’m from Los Angeles. I lived there until I was 31. Then I lived in Jersey City, New Jersey, for three years. I moved to Oregon when I was 34.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is communicating with and learning from the booksellers who are on the retail floor. Their energy and enthusiasm and knowledge help me make really informed buying decisions.
Tell us about your first memorable reading experience.
I was five or six when I read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
. But I still felt kind of dumb because my older brother told me he read it when he was three.
Walk us through your favorite route when browsing books at Powell’s.
I’m all about fiction, including graphic novels, but I usually have an author or book in mind. I’ll let my eye get caught by books that are faced out, that have shelf talker recommendations, and I’ll judge books by their covers, allowing myself to be lured by the lurid.
What was the last book you loved?
I’m currently reading Sometimes a Great Notion
by Ken Kesey. The book is more than 50 years old and an Oregon classic, but I hadn’t read it before. It’s a slow and delicious read.
Recommend a book or author you think everyone should read.
For a broad audience, I’d go with A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle. Good for all ages, strong female (and male) characters, smart people, silliness, tragedy, universal and specific experiences.
Share your favorite customer quote.
Several years ago I was doing a shift at the information desk in our main location. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins came into the store and asked me about a book. Later, as they were exiting, a troupe of young people dressed as angels entered the store (things like that happen all the time at Powell’s). Susan turned to Tim and said, “I TOLD you we should have brought the camera!”
Why do you think bookstores remain so popular in the digital age?
A book is both a physical and mental experience, and the time a reader spends with a book is like a relationship.
Do you have any odd reading habits?
I love to read while I eat at restaurants. It’s very hard to just sit at a restaurant, even with other people, and not pull out a book.
What’s your biggest literary pet peeve?
Clichés. Even in the quick-moving genre books I like to read, I hate phrases that I have read over and over through the years. The writer should do a little bit of work coming up with fresh ways of saying something.
When you’re not reading, what do you like to do in your free time?
I write fiction. I have a story in the recently published anthology City of Weird
. Everything you secretly wanted to know about Portland is in this book. I’ve been working on a novel for several years, and it will be several more before it’s done. Writing is hard work and I’m a little too lazy.
What’s your favorite spot in Portland?
My favorite spot is a tie between the trails of Forest Park and Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, where I can be semi-anonymous and shop like the booklover I am.
What’s your favorite book of all time?
At different times I have declared different favorite books — The Lord of the Rings trilogy
, A Tale of Two Cities
, the Bible, Beloved
by Toni Morrison. The more I read and the broader my reading experience, the less I can say I have a favorite book.