How would you describe your job?
I’m responsible for putting out all the things you play with at Powell’s that aren’t books.
Where are you originally from?
Born and raised in Portland, I’m a Northwest native through and through!
What did you do before you came to Powell’s?
I ran a feminist pop-culture blog with a friend for several years, during which time I attended conventions and played indie games as if my life depended on it. But I still managed to read at least a book a week.
What is the best part of your job?
Once a week, I sit down with boxes and boxes of candy surrounding me as I enter the delicious treats into inventory. “Surrounding myself with mountains of candy” is a bucket-list item the five-year-old version of myself can satisfyingly check off.
Share a memorable experience you've had on the job.
I’ve had so many it’s impossible to count, but the one that stands out the most stars a waddling two-year-old little girl with a mess of curls who, while I was bent over to restock some pens on a lower shelf, marched right up to my face and softly exclaimed, “Wow!” as she marveled at the color of my hair. The time I talked a customer into buying the first book of The Wheel of Time
almost tops that, but nothing can truly compete with the wonder of a child.
Why do you think bookstores remain so popular in the digital age?
Everyone, regardless of what they do or where they are in life, at some point wants to disappear into another world and be someone else, even if just for a little bit. Bookstores are magical places filled with worlds just waiting to whisk you away. Or if you’re on a research kick, bookstores are fantastic places to nurture your knowledge.
Books offer a singular focus with which the Internet can’t compete, as everything is always a click away. But when you're reading a book? You're just reading the book. And there’s nothing like curling up with a good book and a hot cup of coffee on a rainy day.
Recommend a book or series you think everyone should read.
Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch
trilogy. It’s a wondrous space opera featuring gender nonconformity coupled with a fascinating POV character in Breq: a person who was once an entire spaceship now living in a single body. The way Leckie managed to write the viewpoint of a ship seeing through multiple eyes is one of the best attempts at anything like that I've seen handled in literature.
What makes for a good book in your eyes?
At least two compelling characters, especially characters that break out of stereotypes and social norms. I’ll forgive almost anything in a novel if the characters fascinate me.
What was the last book you loved?
by Naomi Novik, a darkly enchanting fantasy novel of magical and political corruption.
What’s your favorite book of all time?
I love so many books that this is a tremendously hard question to answer. But I have one comfort book I’ve read over and over again since I was first introduced to it in the fourth grade: Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls. I still own the same edition I purchased 20 years ago after clinging to the school copy for as long as my teacher would allow it. It’s one of the first books that truly resonated with me in a powerful, emotional way, and I go back to it year after year whenever I want something warm and heartbreaking to read. It’s like revisiting an old friend.
When you’re not reading, what do you like to do in your free time?
Hiking as much of the Columbia River Gorge as I can while training for obstacle courses or writing. Each activity is a neat counterpoint to the other, with both mental and physical exertion.
What’s your favorite spot in Portland?
A tough call between Urban Fondue (gotta love that delicious hot cheese) and the Macleay Trails. Hiking to Pittock Mansion is a yearly must just for the view — and the exhilaration of the effort required to get up there makes it that much more worth it! Especially if you bring a picnic. (A perfect marriage of the two would, of course, include a picnic of hot cheese, but the logistics might prove trying.)