Like all industries, the book industry has a few staple industry-focused newsletters. For indie booksellers, there’s the American Booksellers Association’s Bookselling This Week (BTW). For anyone in or tangentially related to the book publishing industry, there’s Publishers Weekly (whose BXsellers Facebook group I help moderate; sign up if you’re a bookseller from any store – corporate or indie, new or used – from anywhere in the world!). And there’s the bookselling industry newsletter ShelfAwareness.
BrocheAroe Fabian (“bruh-kuh” for short) is an anthropologist, a world traveler, a writer and a 12-year veteran of the book industry. After working for a museum library, a corporate bookstore, two publishers and four independent bookstores, she will be opening River Dog Book Co., her own bookmobile, in Wisconsin in spring 2019. She works hard to foster cross-cultural understanding and communication wherever she goes.
On your nightstand now:
SO MANY, which is the least surprising thing anyone has ever said in one of these columns. I read a little bit of everything and multiple books at one time, so right now the nightstand has Nic Stone’s second book, Odd One Out; Pride: A Pride and Prejudice Remix by Ibi Zoboi; Knights vs. Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan; the latest Miss Kopp mystery, Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit, by Amy Stewart; Starless by Jacqueline Carey; and two books I’m using as research for the novel I’m (sloooowly) writing: Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas and The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec.
Favorite book when you were a child:
My favorite picture book of all time is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. A lupine is my only literary tattoo (so far!).
Your top five authors:
This changes daily. Can someone be in the top five if they only have one book out, but they’ve earned a forever place in my heart? I don’t know. Here are the top five women writers I’ve been reading the longest and most consistently: Gail Carriger, Anne Fadiman, Melina Marchetta, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb and Gene Stratton-Porter.
Book you’ve faked reading:
Anything by the great Russians, like Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Actually, a lot of “classic” lit–Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I have an undergrad and graduate degree in English, but I’ve never read any of them. They simply didn’t interest me, and I never failed a test or paper on any of them despite not having read them, so I thought, “Why bother?” (I will scrub the Internet of this interview before my future children see it!)
Book you’re an evangelist for:
The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar. While she has published essays and short pieces before, this was her debut novel, and it’s already one of the best books I’ve ever read (along with Tommy Orange’s There There–can I be an evangelist for two? Please?). Both novels are adult (with YA-crossover potential) #ourvoices stories that bring historical, social and political news blips into sharp focus by giving us a glimpse into what feels like real people living through nuanced circumstances, often beyond their control, often faced with impossible choices, yet trying to find the hope in the best-case scenario. Both books tore my heart open.
Book you’ve bought for the cover:
Can I just share my “Book Covers” Pinterest board? (I wish I was joking.) I tend to follow the work of specific design departments, like at Penguin: Coralie Bickford-Smith’s Penguin Classics covers (divine), Jessica Hische’s Penguin Drop Caps collection (gorgeous) and the Penguin Ink Editions from years ago when they teamed up with tattoo artists to re-create a range of classic book covers (so cool!). Oh! and everything in the Gibbs Smith BabyLit series illustrated by Alison Oliver, Ron Stucki and Greg Paprocki. In fact, it’s thanks to the Little Master Tolstoy: Anna Karenina: A Fashion Primer that I now know how that book ends.
Book you hid from your parents:
All the romance novels I read! My mother’s mother gave me a Barbara Taylor Bradford novel when I was 11 years old, and I devoured romantic-style novels from that moment on. First, it was mostly emotional romance–Danielle Steele, Sandra Brown. Then I got into romantic-suspense–Mary Higgins Clark, Sidney Sheldon. And then hormones happened and so anything that had sex in it was going under my pillow or buried beneath clothes in my dresser, to be pulled out with a flashlight and read under the covers late at night. Come to think of it, I think I’ve narrowed in on why I wasn’t interested in reading more classics in high school.
Book that changed your life:
This one might be a bit of a surprise: On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar. I had just graduated college and was struggling to make ends meet (working at a bookstore, of course), and this gave me a lot of practical advice I follow to this day.
Favorite line from a book:
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” —Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie
Five books you’ll never part with:
Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley
Clearing Away Clouds: Nine Lessons for Life from the Martial Arts by Stephen Fabian
Three Fates by Nora Roberts
Griffin & Sabine by Nick Bantock
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Despite having won the Printz, not many people know her work in the States; I’m guessing because she’s from Australia. The first line of this book is, “My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted.” It gives me goosebumps to this day.
Favorite book to look for in used bookshops:
I have a list mostly made up of mysteries I’ll read quickly and pass on, like Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax series, but there’s one book in particular that I’ve never been able to find: Letters from an Age of Reason by Nora Hague. A good friend recommended it 10 years ago, and I loved it. Similar to 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, Letters is an historical epistolary novel about love and the effects of war. Set in the 1860s, Letters chronicles the lives and personal awakenings of a male “high yellow” former house slave from New Orleans and a white teenage girl from New York who meet by chance in London. I want to reread this book now, taking into account the conversations of the last 10 years about representation, #ourvoices, sensitivity readers and my own growth and awareness as a reader and writer, to see if it still holds up.