How would you describe your job?
I work in customer service with a focus on school, library, and corporate sales. I also schedule author visits to schools in the Portland and Beaverton area.
Where are you originally from?
Singapore — and I’m still a proud citizen.
What did you do before you came to Powell’s?
I worked at Books, Inc. in Palo Alto, California, until I realized I couldn’t take another perfect cloudless sunny day anymore.
What is the best part of your job?
Helping teachers get as much as possible out of their tight budgets and making it as painless as possible.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
I have two favorite tasks, both dealing with research: putting together a list of recommendations for private libraries and checking with publishers to see if we can order classroom sets of certain titles at a good discount.
Share a memorable experience you've had on the job.
Truthfully, it’s difficult to say, but I can share a more recent nice experience: I had to take a week off for medical reasons, and one of our accounts sent me flowers. It was a very nice gesture on their part, and I was touched by their kindness.
Share your favorite customer quote.
“I knew I could count on Powell’s.”
Why do you think bookstores remain so popular in the digital age?
Books really are works of art. Nothing compares with the feeling of looking at a book, appreciating the art of the dust jacket, the feel and smell of the paper. And then there’s the mystery and anticipation of browsing and what gem you may find. All that’s lost with a download.
What was the last book you loved?
Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts
by Christopher de Hamel. It’s a wonderfully engrossing, entertaining, and insightful read about how certain manuscripts survived through the centuries. And the plates are gorgeous.
What makes for a good book in your eyes?
Beautiful prose. A well-written book nearly always has a good plot, and the book that makes you read a well-wrought sentence over and over again… that’s an experience that stays with you even when you’ve forgotten the basics of the plot!
Recommend a book or author you think everyone should read.
What’s your favorite book of all time?
Jane Austen’s Persuasion
Do you collect any particular types of books?
Historical mystery novels set in ancient Egypt and Rome, medieval mysteries set in England, Regency mysteries set in England, and hardcover novels by Georgette Heyer
from the 1950s and 1960s. Also history books on ancient Rome, China, and India, and most anything on England (up until WWI).
What’s your biggest literary pet peeve?
Can I name two? It’s hard to choose. 1) Badly constructed novels — books that get promoted by publishers and get rave reviews but that turn out, in my opinion anyway, to be poorly written. 2) The lack of variety and the book industry’s tendency to want to re-create certain bestsellers over and over again.
Tell us about your first memorable reading experience.
I was nine and my parents took me to the National Library where I found the entire Mary Poppins
series. The nice librarian gave me two cards so I could borrow all of the Poppins books as well as a few Enid Blyton Famous Five
books (I was greedy for books from a very young age). They smelt of rain and air conditioning, and to this day that smell gives me a nostalgic glow of well-being.
When you’re not reading, what do you like to do in your free time?
Go on long walks.
What’s your favorite spot in Portland?
The top of Mt. Tabor, especially on a weekday. I remember one evening in summer, my husband and I made it up to the top and saw six or seven monarch butterflies flittering amongst the trees. It was very magical.