How would you describe your job to someone you just met?
I buy new books, as opposed to used books. I look at publisher catalogs to pick out upcoming books, and also keep an eye on replenishing books that have sold.
Last book you loved:
Pete With No Pants
by Rowboat Watkins. It’s a picture book.
Where are you originally from?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I admired my 6th grade teacher, so wanted to become a teacher. My mother was horrified and talked me into going into library science instead.
What did you do before you came to Powell’s?
My pharmacist father won out and I became a pharmacist. I was a practicing pharmacist for 10 years.
What is the best part of your job?
Getting excited about new titles that are coming out.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
I love seeing a title that I believed in and took a chance on sell well.
Share your favorite customer quote.
[The World According to Garp] gave me hope that maybe things could be alright after all. It’s one of the few books that I’ve ever reread.
“Everybody at Powell’s used to do something else. What did you do before you came here?”
Share a memorable experience you've had on the job.
In 2015, I received the Romance Writers of America Steffie Walker Bookseller of the Year Award.
When you’re not reading, what do you like to do in your free time?
Play games, read car magazines, and dream about what I’d do if I won the lottery.
What’s your favorite spot in Portland?
When we have out-of-town guests, I like to take them to Crown Point or for a drive over the top deck of the Marquam Bridge after dark to see the lights of downtown Portland.
What makes for a good book in your eyes?
Flawed but believable characters. Also, lots of humor and an engaging storyline.
Why do you think bookstores remain so popular in the digital age?
Browsing shelves in your favorite section of a bookstore beats an algorithm any day. Being around other people who enjoy books as much as you do doesn’t hurt either.
Recommend a book you think everyone should read.
The Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It’s a literary thriller that takes place in Barcelona from the 1920s through the 1950s. It’s a stunning book. I once heard someone say that they were glad they were alive just to be able to read that book. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Do you collect any particular types of books?
I have a lot of mysteries and a fair number of romances (romance is one of the categories I buy for). I’ve also got literary fiction, some spirituality books, and a fair number of fiction and nonfiction books about African American art and culture.
What’s your biggest literary pet peeve?
Snobs who dismiss entire classes of books they’ve never read.
Tell us about your first memorable reading experience.
My grandmother had been a teacher and read to me and my siblings until we were old enough to hold a book on our own. Then she’d make us read to her, usually while sitting on her lap.
Do you have any odd reading habits or book rituals?
I tend to read in bed, which means I get about 10 pages read before I pass out with the book across my face. It can take me a couple of weeks to get through a book I’m enjoying. With all of the books that come across my desk, I frequently don’t make it past page 50 before I have to move along.
What’s your favorite book of all time?
Besides The Shadow of the Wind
, I’d have to say The World According to Garp
by John Irving. It wasn’t easy to be gay in the late ’70s and early ’80s, as there was a constant fear of being rejected by family or friends, getting fired from your job for no other reason, or being the victim of violence. There are a number of characters who exist outside of the American mainstream in Garp
, including a professional football player who is transitioning to being a woman. It gave me hope that maybe things could be alright after all. It’s one of the few books that I’ve ever reread.