Thursday, December 12, 2013
Behind the Bookshelf: Interview with a bookseller, Christina
We're back after a bit of a hiatus with Christina, a bookseller (and lead of the children's department) from Northern Virginia.
What are you currently reading? Thoughts on it?
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
It’s really hard not to like a steampunk book like this. It’s set in Seattle before Washington becomes a state. Everyone there is waiting for the Civil War to be over, as then they can get the help they need to properly deal with the aftermath of the testing of a new drilling device that went too far into the earth and released the Blight, a gas which not only kills you but may very well turn you into a zombie (or rotter, as they call them). The history is tweaked a little bit so that Seattle was a more heavily populated area than it was back when this is set and you’ll get some scenery that didn’t exist quite yet either, but it’s fascinating. It’s less about the zombies and more about the people who still live in the walled-up Seattle despite the large number of walking dead milling about.
When Did You Last See Her? By Lemony Snicket
I’m not sure if I like this series as much as The Series of Unfortunate Events, but it’s cute and continues to have the signature snarky style that I adore.
What books are you most looking forward to this year?
Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger, the amazing teen series that is a world-prequel to her Parasol Protectorate series of slightly more adult nature. I will read anything this woman writes as it is almost the same kind of wit as a Jane Austen novel (though a little less dry for the people who don’t like Austen as much).
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. I discovered Allie’s blog a couple years ago and fell in love with the humor of it. She’s very honest about things that have happened in her life and what she’s going through, but at the same time she knows just how to cut in a little humor. Her art is not necessarily the greatest ever, but she has a knack for depicting things perfectly with what she can do, and you’ll read through some of her entries and just laugh and laugh.
Did you set any reading goals for 2013? If so, what are they?
I was planning to read 100 books at least, but I’m getting so far behind on that that I think Goodreads is starting to make fun of me with its count tracker.
What three characters would you invite to the bar for a drink?
I don’t drink, but I’d love to hang out with Lord Akeldama from the Parasol Protectorate series, Captain Marvel (of the Carol Danvers variety, for she is nothing but Captain now), and Death from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.
If you could convince any two authors to write a book together, who would it be? Why?
Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman. I feel like their writing styles would mesh very nicely, without as much of the disconnect that can occur when two writers collaborate on a book and you can tell immediately who does what. That’s not always a bad thing, as in Good Omens it’s easy to tell what Terry Pratchett wrote vs. what Neil Gaiman wrote. They’re also two of my all-time favorite authors, so it would be wonderful to see what they would come up with...and give me an excuse to try and get my first edition copy of The Thief of Always signed.
What's the most annoying book you see flying off the shelves?
Twilight and the fake BDSM Twilight fanfic series, Fifty Shades of Grey. I could list everything wrong with the books, but I’d probably be writing forever on the topic. I like that people read even because of series like these two, but I cannot stand either of them to a point where I would almost want to destroy a book, which I try never to do.
If you could give people one piece of advice to prep them for entering a bookstore, what would it be?
1. Be aware of your surroundings. When it is busy, please do not A: set yourself up in the middle of an aisle or walking area; B: move one of our chairs to a spot right in front of as much product as you can, ensuring that if someone needs something from the area you’re sitting in front of, you will be annoyed; and C: be so totally unaware of what’s going on around you that you nearly cause people to run smack into you as you stop walking suddenly.
2. Please be courteous to the people who are paid to try and help you to the best of their ability. They are not verbal punching bags for you to take out your frustrations on, nor are they there to be commented on or touched. There are stories out there of people who have worked places like the pornography industry who have taken retail jobs for extra money and found that the latter setting opens you up for more dehumanization than the former. Think on that for a bit.
3. The back room is not a TARDIS. If it were, I might have every obscure book and textbook you are looking for, but you would not see any of them because I would be off running through time and space while reading them.
4. Do your best to be prepared if you are looking for a specific book. The questions you are being asked when you can’t remember the title or author are to help us figure out if there is a way to do a Google search to find what you’re looking for, or to figure out if we know of the book ourselves. Don’t look at us blankly and remind us what the cover looks like (this happens more often than you’d think), or that it’s called “The [something],” because that isn’t going to help.
5. Nonfiction is not a section. Nonfiction is a catch-all for everything that does not belong in fiction, but it is not a single section. The majority of the store’s stock is nonfiction, broken up into multiple categories. I cannot point you to “nonfiction” if I don’t know what type of nonfiction you are looking for, as you will be wandering through the store wondering where your book might be.
What’s your catnip, that familiar plotline or genre you can’t help but pick up and devour?
I’ve fallen in love with steampunk books recently. I can’t seem to explain why exactly, but there is something about steampunk’s take on the Victorian era that can be quite satisfying, especially when it comes to female characters and commenting on society’s views on women’s rights. I also like a really good urban fantasy book. This can include things like American Gods as well, so really just well-done fantasy novels that have a solid foot in our world. I just love the idea that if you look at the world just a little differently than you normally would, you can discover untold wonders hiding there.