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Our Reading Lives

Dear Hiring Manager: Please Interview My Goodreads Account, Not Me

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Hello! It’s a pleasure to meet you as well. Thank you for inviting me to this job interview.

Who am I? Well, even after publishing three books, I consider myself a reader first, a writer second. Or maybe even third.

I see you read my resume and saw that I was once a hiring manager myself. Indeed; I, too, hate inane, generic questions that put people on the spot in a way that rarely illustrates how they’ll perform on a normal workday. I agree that they tend to elicit canned, empty responses and do as much to prove a prospective employee’s skills and capacity to learn as the SAT does to prove intelligence (i.e. not at all). You’re right; learning about the Actual Person and getting them to talk about things they’ve learned and stuff they care about actually shows you a lot more about who they are, how they’ll fit into a team, and what their potential is. We’re already getting along so well!

I am dressed perfectly for this interview, thank you for noticing. Clinton Kelly’s Freakin’ Fabulous on a Budget is a fantastic read; not only does he give excellent style advice that I follow on the reg, but he’s also an engaging writer and we share a passionate disdain of people who use “I” as an object pronoun. He also told me he loved my hair, so that’s neat.

Am I a hard worker? Well, I read anywhere from 92 to 239 books a year, and yes, picture books count. If you don’t think picture books count as reading, you don’t know how to read a picture book. I don’t work as a librarian per se anymore, but I do still very much subscribe to the idea that every book has its reader and every reader has their book.

Am I a team player? If you take a look at my Goodreads account, you’ll see I am listed as a librarian and an author, meaning that I contribute to the organization and accuracy of metadata on the site for free and I’ve also contributed to other people’s anthologies and scholarly books. Additionally, you may view my “beta read” shelf for a non-exhaustive (NDAs, amirite?) list of books I’ve worked on as a sensitivity reader, filled with titles I am really proud to be even vaguely associated with, like Anger is a Gift and Winterkeep.

Am I a leader or a follower? Not to toot my own horn (I’m totally tooting my own horn), but I’ve had the privilege of being on a number of literary award committees, and I’ve reviewed or written for some of the biggest trade journals in the biz. And I work here at Book Riot! I read Book Riot for years and felt like I would never be good enough to write for them! I still feel unworthy of those honors.

Can I tell you about a time I had to humble myself? Especially after I just crowed about being on award committees? Well, I am convinced that I am a terrible teacher and a complete lost cause, so last summer I joined a book club for fellow graduate teaching associates and professors so we could help each other be better educators. I have invited the same guest speaker to my class four semesters in a row and I am still astounded to learn new things every time. I haven’t taught group Pilates classes since the pandemic started, but why not keep refreshing my knowledge? And whenever I bake a new batch of muffins (once or twice a week), I listen to an episode of You’re Wrong About or one of the Book Riot podcasts I’m not on, because the more I know, the less I know.

This job interview is going so well!

Am I detail-oriented and precise? Look, I have more than 50 specific shelves on my Goodreads, and every book I read gets placed on precisely the shelves it applies to, no more, no less. I have kept impeccable records of every. single. book. I’ve read since 2015, and I kept nearly impeccable records before then, starting in 2007 when I joined the site.

Do I jump right into things or do I do research first? Does jumping right into research count? I read two books about running before I would let myself even start training for a 5K, and let’s be honest—you don’t even have to “train” for a 5K, because if you want to, you can walk it in under an hour.

Can I get along with a diverse group of people? I mean, my job history should speak for itself, but if you need more, take a look at my shelves marked “sociopolitical-sociocultural” and “critical-theory.” You can do your own math on the “read” shelf to see that BIPOC authors definitely make up more than 50% of my reading, with queer representation and disability representation high as well. (Intersectionality FTW!) Or just know that I do pretty well completing or almost completing the Read Harder challenge every year, and I work my way through other challenges like Reading Women and POPSUGAR as well. And have you looked at my TBR? That runs the gamut. I don’t know if you know this, but, like, I really love books.

Do I follow through on things or leave others to pick up the pieces? Okay, so I am not the best at finishing book series, but my DNF shelf is pretty short relative to my total reading numbers each year! That counts for something, right? And the fact that I generally do not even start a series unless all of the volumes are published says that…I have a good understanding of who I am and what I can handle? Hmmm, maybe I should start a new shelf called “series-i-actually-finished.” Hold on a sec while I do that.

Am I willing to learn new skills when required? I thought I didn’t like audiobooks, but then I listened to a bunch of them for a committee I was on, and it turns out aural literacy is something you just have to learn and practice like everything else. Ditto the visual rhetoric class I took that taught me how to read comics.

The interview is coming to an end? You just have a couple more questions? Time flies when you’re having fun!

If I could invite three persons, living or dead, to a dinner party, whom would I choose? First of all my grandfather, who never went to college but finished reading a book every other day or so for his entire 99.75 years of life, and who, before his retirement, owned a store where people like Jamaica Kincaid would just hang out, apparently (his store was near the New Yorker offices, but still), WHICH HE DIDN’T TELL ME ABOUT UNTIL A FEW WEEKS BEFORE HE DIED, WTF, BENJIE?! THAT IS A BUNCH OF ANECDOTES I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HEAR. Second of all, feel free to browse through my “read” shelf for authors you see appear more than twice and select from there. This kind of question gives me decision paralysis. Third, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He just seems like he would be a really great conversationalist whatever the topic, and that’s a quality I strive to cultivate in myself. Plus, I would really like to be able to say I’m friends with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Do I have unreasonably grandiose ideas about what I can do in a single lifetime? Maybe.

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