How would you describe your job?
I'm primarily a bookseller, so I spend my day organizing books, ordering titles, building displays, and providing customer service. I also have occasional hours as a used book buyer and help out with events.
Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in Southeast Portland.
What did you do before you came to Powell’s?
I've been a housecleaner, a landscaper, a freelance writer, and a bartender.
What is the best part of your job?
The people. My coworkers are awesome and so are the customers. I grew up going to Powell's, and it was so meaningful to have a bookseller give a recommendation for a title they were enthusiastic about. Now I know it's just as much fun to give those recommendations.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
Staying on top of trends. I have a variety of sections ranging from history to metaphysics, and it's exciting to get new releases from great authors.
Share your favorite customer quote.
"We love you. We're so glad you're here!" I hear this every week, if not every day, from customers. We love you too, we really do. I have so many regulars I enjoy chatting with, and it's always fun to help out a first timer.
Share a memorable experience you've had on the job.
This last year we made some big moves in the kids’ section. A little girl asked me for a tour. Very seriously, after much thought, she told me she really liked what we'd done with the place.
Why do you think bookstores remain so popular in the digital age?
Sometimes customers are having a hard time or a problem they're confused about. They need someone to look them in the eye and really, truly listen for a bit. And that's how I find a book that might help them. Computers can't do that yet.
What makes for a good book in your eyes?
Passion, depth, and confidence in the reader. My favorite writers know and love every detail of the world their characters inhabit. It allows them to leave out the obvious, knowing that the reader can connect the dots. For me, the magic of a good book lies in what's not said.
What was the last book you loved?
by Marjane Satrapi. The illustrations really underscore the emotional turmoil of growing up during the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
Recommend a book or author you think everyone should read.
I've bought Atlas of the Human Heart
by Ariel Gore for so many of my friends. It's a wonderful memoir about travel, courage, and self-reliance. This book, more than any other book I've read, really manages to touch the elusive feeling of looking at nothing and seeing both despair and endless possibility. I reread it whenever I'm feeling a bit lost.
Walk us through your favorite route when browsing books at Powell’s.
When I go to the downtown store, I wander, but I always make a stop in the small press section. I love zines.
Do you collect any particular types of books?
I tried, but I kept giving them to friends who'd love them.
Tell us about your first memorable reading experience.
My parents let me read whatever I wanted. When I was 12, I read Geek Love
by Katherine Dunn. It was complex and glorious, full of unfulfilled longings and melancholy. It's still burned into my brain.
What’s your biggest literary pet peeve?
With some exceptions, I tend to skip over dream sequences in books.
Do you have any odd reading habits or book rituals?
I try to dip into a book of poetry every day. It reminds me to think creatively.
What’s your favorite book of all time?
Valley of the Dolls
, without a doubt.
When you’re not reading, what do you like to do in your free time?
Get outside! I hike and camp with our two dogs, Cash and June, as much as I can.