Describe your job.
My job is a combination of Antiques Roadshow
(used book buying), meeting and greeting, and talking books in one of Portland’s most popular spaces: the Rare Book Room in our downtown store.
Where are you originally from?
What did you do before you came to Powell’s?
I worked in a bookstore and waitressed.
What is the best part of your job?
Used books and rare books — it’s all good!
What makes for a good book in your eyes?
From a bookselling perspective, a good book is one that sells, and sells quickly.
My book-buying perspective is that a good book is one that not only sells quickly (within 6-8 months) but also makes someone realize that Powell’s is a special place, a place with both a depth and breadth of books to choose from. What other bookstore has books for sale that range in printing dates from 1450 to 2016? Customers have so much fun here because we have older, out-of-print books on the shelves with beautiful dust jackets, leather bindings, amazing pulp cover art.
From a reader’s perspective, a good book is one that makes me say, “Go away. I’m reading,” at least under my breath, when something or someone tries to pull my attention away from the book in front of me.
Walk us through your favorite route when browsing books at Powell’s.
I’m browsing when I’m buying used books — hardly a day goes by when I don’t see something interesting that I want to look at later, perhaps check out (employees can check out books!), or possibly buy. I hardly ever walk through the aisles in the rooms because I’m seeing the books before they even get to the shelf. It’s like a drug.
Share your favorite customer quote.
“Are you a librarian, or are you just very smart?”
Do you collect books yourself?
I have collected pirate books, mostly 1920s-1940s illustrated boys' adventure and classic titles. I was given a book about Henry Morgan and was fascinated!
I also have a collection of books on European tapestry and oriental carpets. There are a few stray books about silk and other materials, so I suppose I would say it’s a collection of books about textiles.
I am not currently adding to either of these collections. I have a World War II collection that I still add to. The books in this collection are about not only military history but also societal changes, economics, espionage, and other topics. They’re a mix of fiction and nonfiction, ranging from memoirs written during or after the war to Connie Willis's time-traveling pair of books, Blackout
and All Clear
. Favorite authors are A. J. Liebling
, Antony Beevor
, David Benioff
, Edward R. Murrow
, and George MacDonald Fraser
. Fraser's Quartered Safe Out Here
is one of the very few books in the collection that do not concern the European theater of war.
What was the last book you loved?
Elizabeth and Her German Garden
by Elizabeth von Arnim.
Do you have any odd reading habits?
I always use bookmarks!
Also, for the past two years, I’ve written down in a journal the titles of all the books I’ve read, with some comments. This is very helpful when I want to recommend a book to a customer.
I also cannot eat lunch at work or dinner at home without reading at the same time. Good thing my husband understands…
What’s your biggest literary pet peeve?
When you’re not reading, what do you like to do in your free time?
Walk my dog, work in my yard... Most of the time I’m reading!