1.) What do you do at Literati?
I’m the manager at Literati and I love my job. I needn’t have worried that there wouldn’t be “life after Borders.” Specifically, I do backlist ordering (my favorite task except for fussing with books), staff scheduling, and payroll. What I love doing at the store is: talking and learning about books with the staff and customers; doing displays (especially tables)–trying to find the right juxtaposition of books to highlight and draw attention to beautiful book covers and trying to find a mixture of books on a table that will have something to appeal to almost everyone who comes in (I call this “fussing” or alternatively “playing” with books); writing a review of a book I loved and want to share with others, though I agonize over my reviews excessively; poking around at Treasure Mart for things that will improve the store (a “new” typewriter, a bench to facilitate browsing, to name a few recent finds); but I suppose what I like most about my job is working with Mike and Hilary and the amazing staff they hired and continue to hire—that’s the best part, hands down.
2.) What do you do when you aren’t working at Literati?
What I typically do when I’m not working is read, watch movies on TV or binge watch some very excellent TV series (recently, “Bloodlines” and now, “Rectify”), or listen to music (blues, jazz, alt country, rock, Sondheim…). I also love going to the theater and feel lucky to live in Ann Arbor where the theater scene is so active, and again, I love poking around estate sales and Treasure Mart. My creative outlet is making decorative tiles at the Ann Arbor Art Center—pounding clay is a great way to release tension and I like the feel of clay almost as much as the feel of books. But nothing really beats spending time with my son or just getting together with friends. Recently, in my spare time, I’ve been going through 30 years work of accumulated stuff in my home as I prepare to sell my house. So for several weeks, for example, instead of reading, I was sorting teeny tiny Playmobil (a wonderful German company whose toys my son loved) pieces into their original sets, and now I’m going through letters belonging to my brother—that’s an emotional roller coaster. I long for the day when I’ve purged all the things I no longer need/want and am sitting in my new, smaller home, curled up with a good book and maybe a cat or two.
3.) Top five favorite books?
This is tough. I don’t think there’s a way I can answer this question and only mention 5 books, so I’m going to take some liberties with my answer to this question. Books that were important to me in younger years that really hooked me into knowing that reading would be a major part of my life were novels, and the two that stand out are War and Peace and Middlemarch, with Bleak House a close runner up. On a side note, this week I read a letter I wrote to my brother when I was in Jr. High, and my closing line was “I’m in love with Joseph Conrad!” I don’t remember this and I don’t think there was a student or a hot teacher named “Joseph Conrad” so I guess I was referring to THE Joseph Conrad. Authors who were important discoveries to me were Samuel Beckett (his humorous rendering of the absurdity of life spoke to my teenage sensibilities and continues to speak to me) and to strike a more traditional note, Jane Austen. I think I want to name the top six (sorry, I couldn’t do 5) books I’ve read (or reread) since I came to work at Literati, and they are in the order of when I read them, from most distant to most recent:
- Path to Power (volume 1 of the Robert Caro biography of LBJ)
- Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III
- A rereading of Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety
- A rereading of Laurie Colwin’s Happy all the Time
- Time Will Darken It by William Maxwell
- Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
4.) What are you reading right now?
I finally decided this week that I would be a much happier person through this moving process if I were to just make time to read, and so I began reading Julie Pierpont’s novel, Among the Ten Thousand Things. I was drawn to it from the description of the storyline that the Random House rep presented to us this fall, and I’m also a sucker for debut novels. So far I’m very happy with my choice.