Welcome to “Booksellers Rock!,” our profile series of independent booksellers. We’re thrilled to hear from Stephanie Anderson, manager of one of the best indies in the universe, WORD.
What books recently rocked my world:
Oh jeez, hmm, I‘ve been having a fantastic year for reading, so this is a very incomplete list:
HOW TO LIVE SAFELY IN A SCIENCE FICTIONAL UNIVERSE by Charles Yu
A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD by Jennifer Egan
SELECTED STORIES by Alice Munro
THE BIG BURN by Tim Egan
INFINITE JEST by David Foster Wallace
CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell
K BLOWS TOP by Peter Carlson
ROOM by Emma Donoghue
MATTERHORN by Karl Marlantes
Best damn event we’ve hosted:
Oh man. How about top 5? In no particular order:
1. John Waters, for ROLE MODELS, in conversation with Carolyn Kellogg. Because he is John Waters.
2. Jami Attenberg brought amazing cookies to an event we did for her THE MELTING SEASON, but it was especially memorable because there was an opera singer.
3. Charles Yu and Brian Francis Slattery just last week. BFS is an accomplished musician and reads his own work while accompanying himself on banjo and with two other musicians. It’s incredible. They also accompanied Yu.
4. Launch party for MEEKS by Julia Holmes, one of my favorite debuts of the year. Incredible crowd, cake, and artifacts from the book that Julia herself made.
5. Our last literary singles mixer, which was prom-themed, and during which several couples were spotted making out in various dark corners.
Most entertaining author we’ve hosted:
It would be easier to list authors who weren’t entertaining. I guess it would have to be Daniel Handler, who might have the quickest wit of anybody I’ve ever met. Effortlessly charming.
Strangest question a customer has ever asked:
Last week someone called to ask if we carry Kindle covers. I still am not convinced it wasn’t a practical joke. Of all time, though, I think the best question I’ve gotten was “Do you have shoe trees here?” It’s mostly memorable because when I said no, the woman got FURIOUS and yelled at me, “Well, then, what good are you?!”
What makes our neighborhood and customers awesome:
Greenpoint is amazing. Greenpoint is so great that I don’t want to tell you too much about it, because part of its charm is that it’s sort of difficult to get to, so not a ton of people bother. For starters, it’s a majority Polish neighborhood, so we have great pierogies, and also the best donut shop in NYC, and also these crazy Polish candies that are chocolate and shaped like barrels and full of liquor. We have a killer view of the Manhattan skyline. And we’re home to a sewage treatment plant, and a number of scrap metal warehouses, and fish warehouses.
Our mailman is probably the best mailman in America. I’m not kidding about that.
Our customers—I don’t know what makes them awesome. Something in the water? But they are. They just love books so damn much. Almost as much as we do. They want to read them and talk about them, and recommend them, and just have books in their lives and in their homes. There is nothing they won’t read. I don’t know where they came from or how they all ended up in the same neighborhood, but I hope they never leave.
I promise you won’t find this at any other store:
A postcard with a skull and crossbones that says “Greetings from Greenpoint!” We also have a Wig of Shame made from packing materials. And a framed copy of this New Yorker cover.
If I weren’t selling books, I’d be:
A happy middle-school English teacher, a dissatisfied East Asian Studies scholar, or a miserable lawyer.
Books that changed my life.
Well, all of them, really. But in a profound sense? Most recently, BORN TO RUN by Christopher McDougall and INFINITE JEST by David Foster Wallace (yes, was a little late to that party).
Also, another incomplete list:
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA by Ernest Hemingway
THE DARK IS RISING sequence by Susan Cooper
THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster
AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD by Annie Dillard
THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
MYSTERY ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS by Agatha Christie
LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN by James Agee
PROMETHEA by Alan Moore
Top three authors, living or dead, I’d invite to my dinner party:
Nigella Lawson, to make the dinner. David Foster Wallace, because I have so many questions for him. And, I don’t know, Shakespeare? Judy Blume? Elizabeth Cady Stanton? Ben Franklin? Who has a dinner party and only invites three other people?
Top three songs on the soundtrack to my life:
Sonata for Cello and Piano in E Minor, Brahms
Bodhisattva, Steely Dan
On The Radio, Regina Spektor
My last meal request:
Roasted potatoes and zucchini with salt and butter. Brie on baguette. Spicy Thai chips. Earl Grey tea. Watermelon.