How would you describe your job to someone you just met?
Whenever I tell people that I’m a bookseller at Powell’s, their eyes light up because they believe that Powell’s is the place to be in Portland. Then, a look of confusion will cross their faces, and they’ll ask me what exactly that means. I usually tell people that I’m a librarian of sorts. Sometimes they can find me at the Info desk, and other times they can find me roaming through the aisles that I maintain. Then they smile and tell me that I look the part, since I wear glasses.
Last book you loved:
I have been telling everyone to read Meaghan O’Connell’s new book, And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready. I just bought it for my friend, who is about to have her first child. I also met the author recently, and I may have scared her because I came off so strongly about how much I love her book.
Where are you originally from?
That depends on your definition of “originally.” I was born in Gary, Indiana, but most recently lived in Seattle, Washington.
Share your favorite customer quote:
I once handed a lady a book that she ordered, and she looked at me stunned. She flipped through the book and remarked, “I thought there were supposed to be photos in this book.” When I told her that there weren’t, she groaned and said, “Ugh, now I’m disappointed. I didn’t expect to actually read a book.”
Share a memorable experience you had on the job:
My first summer here at Powell’s, I worked almost exclusively as a cashier. An older woman came to the register carrying a stack of poetry books. As I was ringing her up, she mentioned that she was buying the books for her granddaughter, who had recently been dumped. She asked if I liked any of the books, and I hadn’t read most of them. I then recommended Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, because it had helped me through a breakup of my own. We stood there, discussing the book, and I almost started to cry, knowing that someone trusted me enough to try and help heal her granddaughter’s broken heart. I wonder if she ended up liking Milk and Honey, and if she’s doing okay today.
Why do you think bookstores remain so popular in the digital age?
I think that for a lot of us, they remind us that everything will be okay. Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of friends, so being surrounded by books was really comforting. It still is, honestly. After the most recent election, my first instinct was to walk down to Powell’s (this was before I worked here) and to just sit there, because I knew that I didn’t want to be alone, but I also didn’t need to actually talk to anyone. I just needed to feel safe. Bookstores will forever be a safe space.
What’s your biggest literary pet peeve:
When the plot takes too long to take shape. My attention span is short, and I don’t have a lot of time, since I work two jobs and go to school full time. I recently finished a book that was 300 pages, and it didn’t go anywhere for about 200 of those pages. I only finished it because I was like, Well, you might as well since you have already come this far.
Tell us about your first memorable reading experience:
I was around eight years old, and I’d just finished reading a book in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. I closed the book and I was shocked that there was someone out there whose job was to create magical worlds for people to enjoy. I looked at my mother and told her that I wanted to be a writer, and almost 15 years later, that’s still the dream that I’m working towards. Books are incredibly magical.
Do you have any odd reading habits?
I have two, although one isn’t odd. The first one is that I can only focus on one book at a time. The second one is that I prefer hardcover books to paperback. Everyone tells me that I’m odd for preferring that.
This portrait of a bookseller is from the official website of Powell’s Books– www.powells.com.