An interview with Gina Carra of BookPeople

1. What’s your favorite area of your bookstore?

I wholly admit it’s because I helped decorate it, but I find so much peace in the second floor back corner where we have our local artists’ work displayed. The entire wall of art books is papered colorfully and it calms me down to be in that space.

2. What’s the coolest book cover that you like to have facing out on the shelves?

This question is stumping me and I think it’s because of the word ‘cool’! I face out books I’m excited to read but haven’t yet haha I essentially face out my TBR. Right now that’s Heartbreak by Florence Williams because I LOVED The Nature Fix and I’m excited to see the research and care she’s put into the study of heartbreak.

3. If you had a staff pick for a recent new release, what would it be? Backlist pick?

It’s not the MOST recent, but A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske came out in October of last year and I cannot shut up about it. I adored that the main character didn’t have a deep well of magic and had to be technically perfect while his siblings were prodigies who cast with barely a thought. I loved that the two main characters couldn’t stand each other but end up willing to die for each other. I would also die for them.

For backlist, I’m in a constant state of wanting to reread The Great Passage by Shion Miura. It’s the fictionalized making of a dictionary you didn’t know you needed. Each of the characters on this team are so captivated by words and how the way we choose to use them shapes our relationships with those around us. When the main character starts to fall in love and cross references multiple dictionaries to see how they define the word ‘love’, I melted. It’s beautifully poetic and I have all the respect in the world for the translator, Juliet Winters Carpenter, who seamlessly translated this nuanced story about words from Japanese into English.

4. Do you have a strange customer story?

Over the holidays, a customer approached me and asked what the coolest way to take a book off the shelf was. I didn’t understand at first and then they specified that they wanted to take a book in a way that would create the least amount of work for the booksellers to fix afterwards. I insisted it was fine and we were happy to tidy up, but they insisted back that they were truly curious. I was so completely endeared by this sentiment and gave them a little lesson about how taking a faceout copy with another copy behind it would disturb the shelf the least.

5. What author have you been starstruck to meet, or have you gotten to host a fun virtual event?

My first month at BookPeople in 2019 I was at the registers and looked up to see Felicia Day. I had JUST read her memoir, You’re Never Weird On the Internet (Almost), and was so inspired by it but looking her in the eye I was so startled that I could not begin to verbalize how much I enjoyed the book and I accidentally printed her receipt 15 times and had to have a manger come fix my register.

6. What are some misconceptions people have about working in a bookstore?

If you really want a breakdown of this in the funniest way possible, read Skull-Face Bookseller Honda San by Honda. I logically know it’s meant to be an exaggerated comedy, but it’s so painfully accurate that it just feels like being at work to me!

7. What is your least favorite bookstore task? Favorite part about working in a bookstore?

My least favorite thing is when we inevitably pull returns and one of the books that’s been hanging around too long is one I was really rooting for to find a home. Timing is everything and sometimes the right person just doesn’t come in at the right time. Favorite thing about working in a bookstore? I mean, it’s in the question: being in a bookstore. I love being able to just walk over and look at a book I’m curious about. I’ve read so much I wouldn’t have tried before. It’s broadened my horizons permanently and I’m so thrilled by it.

8. Can you recommend an underrated readalike book for one of the store’s top titles? (For example: If your store sells a lot of The Song of Achilles, you might recommend Tin Man.)

I spend way too much time thinking about Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir comps because it’s an impossible task. In line with the queerness so obvious the readers can see it happening though the characters don’t yet and the absolute self indulgent chaos of the story, I’d recommend The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu.