For the past two years, give or take, I’ve written this blog. I have written about the book business, my fellow booksellers, the great indie bookstores that have closed in the past few years, and dozens of exciting books and authors. I interviewed David Sedaris and Julie Klam and Dan Kennedy. I incorrectly predicted nearly every major literary award. I frequently made embarrassing homonym errors. I pissed off Seth Godin. And my first post was about bananas.
This will be my last post at the Vroman’s Blog, as I’m moving on to a new position at Goodreads. I have thoroughly enjoyed talking with all of you; your comments and responses to my posts have made me a better reader and a better writer, and for that, I have to thank you. In my time at Vroman’s, I’ve met many brilliant, inquisitive, daring people; I only hope a little of their greatness rubbed off on me. In short, I’ve been lucky.
But enough about me. The big question on everyone’s mind is “What will happen to the Vroman’s Blog?” Fear not, fair readers, you are in good hands. My coworker Ruby Vassar will be taking over the primary blogging duties, as well updating and growing the store’s various online outposts. She’s bright and energetic, and I think once you get to know her, you will agree that she’s going to do some awesome things with the blog. Ruby was good enough to sit down and answer a few questions for my last interview as a Vroman’s blogger.
Patrick: How long have you worked at Vroman’s Bookstore? What was your job before you became the webmaster and blogger?
Ruby: I’ve worked at Vroman’s on and off as a Bookseller since I was a senior in high school. It was actually my first job, and I managed to get hired even though it was my first job interview ever. I was so nervous! I remember Josh, Jen and Rosalee (the book, assistant book, and operations managers at the time) asking me what books I had read recently and me just pulling up the titles and authors of any book I could think of that I had read in the last four years, including books for school, fun, French class… anything.
So I worked as a bookseller for a full year in high school, coming back for summers and breaks during college. Then, after I graduated in June of this year, I re-applied for “any position that will pay me” (I was tired of a stint at an unpaid internship). I found out a position was open for the Marketing/Events Assistant in the Promotions department, and worked hosting author events and helping out the Promotional staff for a few months before I applied for the position as Webmaster.
Patrick: I know you’re reading the Wheel of Time series right now. How long have you been reading it? What’s it like to read something that goes on and on like that? I’d imagine it’s more like watching a long TV series than reading, in some ways.
Ruby: I’m actually reading three books right now (one is never enough), but yes, one is Winter’s Heart, book 9 of the Wheel of Time. I’ve been working on this series for over a year now, and have hit approximately page 7,496. It has been really interesting for me to see exactly how detailed and in-depth Robert Jordan’s world is- I think that’s where he’s at his best, creating the locations the book is set in. The tv series analogy is good, but I think a marathon might be better. A marathon where you get to take breaks.
Patrick: What are some of your favorite books and writers? How do you think you’ve changed as a reader since attending (and then leaving) college?
Ruby: I spent a lot of time pre-college reading science fiction and fantasy. From that genre, some of my absolute favorite authors are Orson Scott Card, Phillip Pullman, Neil Gaiman, Anne McCaffery, Jacqueline Carey, Terry Pratchett, and JRR Tolkein. I think I’ll handle favorite books at some other time… there are way too many of them. I also spent a lot of time hating the books I was supposed to read for school, simply because I had to read them.
I think that’s how I have changed most between pre- and post-college me. Now that no one is forcing me to read “good” books, I am much more picky about the quality of books that I do read. Recently, I’ve been doing some re-reading of books like The Collector and The Handmaid’s Tale, and I’ve been enjoying some short story collections. I’m also reading Stephen King for the first time (possibly a bad plan, since I don’t always like creepy things!) and just finished The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To, a spot-on tale of being a geek in high school (which I was).
Patrick: I know you worked at a coffee shop that shall not be named prior to this…What is the one coffee drink that when someone ordered it you were like “Oh, great.” I would imagine it would be something really involved, like a Carmel Macchiato (I actually don’t know what a macchiato is, but it sounds really involved)?
Ruby: Caramel Macchiatos aren’t that bad on their own… Marble Mocha Macchiatos are slightly worse. Also anything followed by the words “extra extra hot no foam whole/soy milk extra caramel with three Splendas and an extra half shot of decaf espresso” is probably a good candidate for me to cringe.
P.S.: A macchiato is actually a shot of espresso with a dollop of foam… in the non-caramel usage at least.
Patrick: What is your favorite word? Your least favorite word?
Ruby: My most recent favorite word is nugatory (syn. insignificant… like a little nugget). I am not, however, a fan of the word “stuff”, because I feel like I use it too often when better words (like nugatory) exist in the world.
Patrick: If you could have dinner with any author and literary character (they need not be related in any way), living or dead, who would it be?
Ruby: Character would have to be Death from Terry Pratchett’s discworld series. I feel like he would have interesting things to say. For my author, I’ve always wanted to have dinner with Shakespeare, so I can write the book finally exposing his (her?) true identity. Or Neil Gaiman, as I have had a literary crush on his books for years.