Our bookseller of the month for February is John Peck. Each month, we ask a staff member a few questions about their relationship with books, and reading in general. Below are John's responses.
1. What kind of reader are you?
My tastes are all over the map, and when I read I like to ping-pong between
genres - if I've just finished a novel, I'll move on to a book of essays,
then a graphic novel, then poetry, then some reference book that isn't
really supposed to be read, like an atlas or a cookbook - I can read
atlases and cookbooks for hours.
I love new authors, but to me reading is about looking back, reliving some
golden age - in that sense, I guess I'm a fairly conservative reader, even
though most of what I read is on the darker, stranger side of the spectrum.
I believe in canons, plural, as in each reader assembling his or her own.
Mine is made up of authors like Borges, Lorca, Lispector, Murakami, Spicer,
Calvino, Gogol, Brautigan, Vonnegut; authors who create worlds. I've been
on a massive sci-fi kick lately, and have been hungrily reading and
re-reading everything from A Fire Upon the Deep to Ender's Game to
2. Name three favorite titles that came out in the last three years.
The new translations of Lispector from New Directions, particularly Hour
of the Star; Amazing Everything, the long-overdue first collection from
Scott C, one of my favorite cartoonists; and the updated edition of How To
Cook Everything, my all-time favorite cookbook.
3. What reading experience surprised you recently?
I picked up the audiobook of Guns, Germs and Steel, thinking I'd listen to
it in the car, but ended up listening to it entirely on headphones, mostly
while walking. It was a great way to absorb such an epic book, and I now
associate certain passages with whatever part of the city I was walking
through when I heard them.
4. What upcoming book are you looking forward to?
Since Tenth of December is already out, I'll say The Fun Parts by Sam
Lipsyte. Also, my friend Ben Catmull's book Ghosts and Ruins is coming
out from Fantagraphics this fall, and it looks amazing.
5. If you could spend a day with one living author, who would it be and why?
Dead authors are so much easier to choose from; you can imagine them
brooding their way through the afterlife. The worry with living authors is
that it will actually happen, and will be underwhelming, so I'd have to
choose someone who knows how to have a good time - how about Slavoj Zizek?
Check out some of John's favorite books on his recommendation page.