Interview with Christine Bollow from Loyalty Bookstore

  1. What’s your favorite area of your bookstore?
    I love all the sections but I find myself gravitating towards the speculative section the most, especially when it comes to browsing for myself. I also love that we have a whole section dedicated to the romance genre. It’s really lovely working somewhere that celebrates genre fiction just as much as literary fiction!
  2. What’s the coolest book cover that you like to have facing out on the shelves?
    Okay this is hard because there’s so many awesome book covers and Loyalty always does a great job of having a lot of books facing out on the shelves! It always makes me happy when we have books by Filipinx authors facing out, such as Fairest by Meredith Talusan or Insurrecto by Gina Apostol. Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine is one of my favorite books and book covers, so I always like to have that one facing out or on a table display.
  3. If you had a staff pick for a recent new release, what would it be? Backlist pick?
    Things I Have Withheld by Kei Miller is an incredible essay collection that came out last summer. It’s an exploration of the silences held within the body and in conversations, those things left unsaid, family secrets, and more, from the perspective of a queer Black man from Jamaica. It was one of my favorite books of the year and deserves way more attention! I also love Barb the Last Berserker by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson, a graphic novel for middle grade readers. It’s funny and full of adventure and friendship and bravery – perfect for fans of Adventure Time. A backlist book? Hmm…I’ve been recommending Miracle Creek by Angie Kim a lot lately and of course anything by Octavia Butler!
  4. What author have you been starstruck to meet, or have you gotten to host a fun virtual event?
    I was so starstruck getting to meet Min Jin Lee virtually! She is one of my all-time favorite authors and I aimed high and decided to shoot my shot asking her to participate in the Stop AAPI Hate fundraiser event I organized at Loyalty last spring. She generously agreed to be part of the event and I got to meet her briefly in the green room before the event started and legit lost my ability for words for a moment there. I might have cried from joy after she left the green room because I was so overwhelmed but like, in a good way! I’ve been able to host so many fun virtual events with Loyalty – seriously, I love getting to host authors and support them and their work and it’s my favorite part of my job. A few memorable events are getting to host Yaa Gyasi and Brit Bennett, Ocean Vuong and Alok Vaid-Menon, Thien-Kim Lam and Lyssa Kay Adams, and any time we get to do an event with Kwame Mbalia, I know it will be a blast!
  5. What are some misconceptions people have about working in a bookstore?
    That you just get to read all day. Sadly, that is not the case. I of course still read a ton but it’s all done outside of working hours.
  6. What is your least favorite bookstore task? Favorite part about working in a bookstore?
    Lifting or moving boxes! My favorite part about working in a bookstore and at Loyalty specifically is that we center books by BIPOC, queer, disabled, and other marginalized authors and that everything we do supports that mission. I love that the work I do for Loyalty’s events and marketing contributes to the store being an inclusive and intersectional space for our community.

Christine Bollow is the Programs & Marketing Manager at Loyalty Bookstores in Silver Spring, MD.