1. What’s the strangest or most interesting job you’ve ever had?
    Working here at Powell’s is definitely the most interesting. When I introduce authors at events, I feel like an ambassador to literature, or sometimes when I recommend some of my favorite books (Home Land by Sam Lipsyte, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower, Daddy’s by Lindsay Hunter, A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews) to people, I feel like some kind of a life coach. When you think about it, it’s an odd job being able to pick out what goes into someone’s brain. Plus, since Powell’s is such a famous destination, we get all sorts of celebrities shopping in here too, so almost every day holds some kind of surprise.

    —Our very own Kevin Sampsell, in a Q&A about his new book This Is Between Us


  2. Five books related to the young adults in your life, and the issues they care about:

    Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America by Jeff Chu
    This is one of the most important books I’ve read recently. It’s about being gay and Christian in America, by one of the most intelligent, sensitive, unflinching, and gifted writers around. It gets to the heart of one of the most difficult conversations we need to have in this country about sexual identity and faith — a topic that is a huge concern to so many of the college students I meet around the U.S., and to me, too.

    Feed by M. T. Anderson
    If you have not read this novel, you are depriving yourself of one of the most chilling portraits of the potential negative effects of technology and its relationship to consumer culture ever written. It is more than a must. It’s practically prophetic. The author is absolutely brilliant, and he’s been awarded with more than one National Book Award nomination for his ability to weave that brilliance into a compelling novel that gets to the heart of some of the most important and difficult topics that face us today — and does so fearlessly.

    Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers by Christian Smith
    Yes, it’s a publication of findings from a major study so, no, it’s not the easiest read, but it’s really good stuff. It provides super-excellent research on attitudes about faith and spirituality among young adults in America, and I recommend it highly. Whether or not the young adults in your life admit it openly, they care deeply about spirituality and religion, and it’s important to pay attention to this subject in their lives.

    Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy
    A must-read in thinking about gender, girls, women, and the state of “feminism” today — as it’s been hijacked by people who don’t know a thing about feminism. Levy’s writing is courageous and smart, and she gets to the heart of one of the depressing realities of today’s girls and women — that somehow, what Levy calls “raunch” has come to be associated as “feminist” — and wrongly so.

    Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus by Kathleen A. Bogle
    This is an excellent introduction to hooking up — what it is, and how it shows up on college campuses today — by a top-notch sociologist, and someone who cares deeply about young people, too.

    Read the rest of our Q&A with Donna Freitas here: http://powells.us/10xq2ZV

  3. "A young woman came up to me at Emerald City Comicon and told me she’s in the navy and that Captain Marvel inspired her to apply for flight school.

    That was such an extraordinary moment for me. I don’t know what to do with it. My throat gets tight just thinking about it.”

    Read our Q&A with Kelly Sue DeConnick, who writes the Avengers Assemble, Captain Marvel, and Ghost comic books: http://powells.us/10WaQaX

    (Source: powells)


  4. What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
    I’ve always loved T. S. Garp. I loved him from the start — from when he was in high school, that is, in his singlet in the dank, fungal stink of the gym’s wrestling pads. I loved his mother — her asexual candor, her lack of all pretense. I’d have married him, you know, even though we were both writers. And I’d have never slept with the “gradual” student. I don’t like earnest young men. I find any admiration they might have for me a sign of naïveté. Wait, it was the sitter. He sleeps with the sitter, right? Or am I confusing him with Cheever’s Weed in "The Country Husband"? I wouldn’t have liked the adultery. Mrs. Ralph. I’m recalling a Mrs. Ralph, somewhat naked. No, I wouldn’t have liked that at all. In our version, the children would have thrived — that’s the only way to have hope in my future with Garp. The only way at all.

    Five Books for Bookish Book Clubs
    I’m often asked for book club recommendations. This list includes my standard: Lee Smith’s Fair and Tender Ladies, as well as an overlooked classic, Stoner, which has nothing to do with smoking pot (apologies to the pot smokers), and a bestselling memoir by transgender writer Jennifer Finney Boylan, a great read that might entail some new terrain for certain readers, as well as a comedic and moving Gish Jen novel about the immigrant experience. And every book club should add an occasional collection of poems. Here I pop in Rachel Zucker.

    Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith
    Typical American by Gish Jen
    She’s Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan
    Stoner by John Williams
    Museum of Accidents by Rachel Zucker