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 Neuromancer.
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?
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.