Christina at Ravenna
It was probably always Christina's fate to wear big glasses and work with books.
How long have you worked at Third Place?
Less than six months. Before that I worked in speciality coffee for several years.
What section(s) do you shelve?
History, Gardening, Crafts, Fashion/Beauty, Art/Architecture/Photography, Adult Coloring Books (a burgeoning section if ever there was one!), African-American Studies, Native American Studies, Women's Studies, LGBT, Economics, Business, Nature, and Environment. (editor note: Christina also handles Ravenna's Instagram account, go see her beautiful pictures.)
Most underrated/ book in your section? I am always very happy when people take home a copy of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz!
What's your favorite section in the store?
Probably history. There is always, always something to learn, and I think the more familiar one can be with history, the greater perspective and compassion one can gain.
Also, history has Mark Kurlansky and that guy loves cod enough to make it interesting, which is pretty miraculous (see his 1997 book, Cod: A Biography). I think about Kurlansky's cod monomania and the paths his wonkish interest took him down almost as often as I think about how Joanna Newsom and Andy Samberg are married.
What book do you recommend most?
Right now I'm recommending my November staff pick, Sofia Samatar's A Stranger in Olondria from Small Beer Press. I'll quote from my review: "Samatar is an incredible writer and [her novel's] plot of a naive young man drawn into matters over his head will speak to anyone whose travels have made them both sick with excitement and the longing to go home. "
Favorite bookstore, besides Third Place? My favorite bookstore will always be Book People in Austin, TX. I pretty much grew up there! My summers as a kid were often spent there, dropped off at my request with lunch money and quarters for the pay phone. My family were late adopters of cellphones so that line about pay phones probably makes me sound older than I am.
What are you reading now?
Right now I am reading Eichmann in Jerusalem, by Hannah Arendt and also a Georgette Heyer omnibus. I suspect I am not alone in wanting to leaven heavy reading with something light.
Do you have to finish a book once you've started, or do you give up on books?
Uh, I give up on books all the time. I try to give every book a fair chance but sometimes the book is awful or you just aren't in the right mood. Also, the grim satisfaction to be found in discarding a book that's driving you up a wall is not to be missed. My grandmother and mother both claim that Gravity's Rainbow is the only book they've ever (independently within their own histories as readers) thrown across the room. I didn't throw it. I set it down very firmly.
A book you regret not reading sooner or a book you regret never having read? I wish I had read
Octavia Butler sooner! Everyone should read Butler as soon as possible.
Favorite author, or three, or five? Susanna Clarke, Octavia Butler, Fumiko Enchi, Nnedi Okorafor, Dorothy Sayers, Karen Armstrong, Ursula LeGuin, Natsuo Kirino, Gao Xie, Yoko Ogawa, PD James, Barbara Tuchman, Per Petterson, Tove Jansson, Miyuki Miyabe, Roxane Gay, Karen Lord, Junichiro Tanizaki, Rabih Alemeddine, Sofia Samatar, Janet Mock, the Bronte sisters, Wilkie Collins, NK Jemisin...
Do you have an all-time favorite book? What is it?
I'll say instead that a book I wish I'd written is The Ill-Made Mute, by Cecilia Dart-Thornton.
Guilty reading pleasure? I am firmly in the camp of "there is no such thing as guilty reading". If we feel guilty about reading something--romance novels, erotica, thrillers, whatever--it is probably because there is a problematic social stigma against it that has nothing to do with the work's content or value, and everything to do with narratives about whose words are important or what subjects are "legitimate".
Do you keep books? Borrow them? Lend them?
Borrow and lend! I love that a thing my coworkers do at Third Place is buy multiple copies of their favorite books expressly for the purpose of loaning them out with no expectation of getting them back. That's awfully cute.
How are your bookshelves arranged at home?
My bookshelves at home are like a messed-up Tetris level. There are floor stalagmites of books which I have tried to arrange aesthetically. There are two booksellers in my household, so...
A book you loved that you wouldn't have read if someone hadn't recommend it to you, who recommended it?
Eden, a graphic novel/comic by the Argentinean artist Pablo Holmberg. My partner recommended it to me!
Favorite movie version of a book, or a movie that most ruined a book?
The news that a favorite book is being adapted into a movie usually causes either wild panic or a headache. Like, the Golden Compass adaptation was cringeworthy. But the BBC miniseries adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is amazing. I was so scared it would be bad, but it's not!