Bookstore: Harvard Book Store
Title: Head Buyer
Brief Bio: I started working at HBS part time in 1999 while going to graduate school. The bookstore life appealed to me more than the academic one, so I dropped out and started full time. Palace intrigues brought me to the buying office, and I’ve been there ever since, eventually rising to Head Buyer. I also recently finished culinary school, and I’m now cooking my way through galley copies of a handful of new titles.
What books recently rocked my world: City of Bohane by Kevin Barry wowed me, Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman devastated me, and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel enthralled me.
Best damn event(s) we’ve hosted: This is tough as we’ve hosted some fantastic events over the years. I’d have to go with the chance of meeting some of my favorite authors: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Rupert Thomson, David Mitchell. Oh, we had Shaq last year too. We had to find a special chair that he could fit in!
Most entertaining author(s) we’ve hosted: Hands down, it’s David Sedaris. The first time we hosted him, he brought an actual live monkey. It was a trained helper animal, and it stole the show: While he read it would pick up his notes and shuffle them, keeping them organized and in a neat pile. Then it would open this little Tupperware container full of Cheerios, eat one or two, then close the container back up. All the while Sedaris was smoking – in a no-smoking store surrounded by flammable books, reading a story about dildos. On his most recent visit, he was collecting dirty jokes which he invited customers to share. I… won’t repeat them, but they were fantastic.
Strangest question a customer has ever asked: I think every store is familiar with someone coming in looking for a book and only remembering the color of the cover. The oddest one we ever had, though, was someone who called up on Christmas eve looking for something about monkeys. He had this drawn-out high-pitched voice, and everything ended in a question, like he was “looking for books about monkeys? Doing things like humans?” Specifically, he wanted books on monkey sex.
Why our store kicks ass: Our neighbors and customers are great, but it’s our staff that really makes our store amazing. We run the best events series in the city and have a deep backlist selection. Even if you think it’s too obscure, someone here has heard of it.
What makes our neighborhood and customers awesome: Being part of a community for 80+ years means that you become an institution. People meet here, get married, and bring their children here. I promise you won’t find this at any other store: Lucy the Wonder-pup, our dog who predicts Booker Prize winners. She wasn’t right about this last one, but maybe next time…
Why I do what I do: I love books, and I love sharing that with customers. Plus the free books.
If I weren’t selling books I’d be: Cooking – I love making my own pastas, and recently I’ve been trying some new things with herb-infused ice cream.
Books that changed my life: Edith Hamilton’s Mythology inspired me to take Latin in high school and eventually to make Classics my major in college. It’s why I moved to Boston.
Top three authors, living or dead, I’d invite to my dinner party: For a dinner party, I’d have to go for food writers. So, maybe Anthony Bourdain, Julia Child, and M.F.K Fisher. Or David Sedaris, because he’s great to have around.
Top three songs on the soundtrack to my life: Anything by Led Zeppelin. For all three.
My last meal request: I’d like to eat at French Laundry before I die.