Name: Katherine McGuire
Company: Quirk Books
Question #1: Where and when do you read?
On the bus to and from work if it’s rainy and I’m not commuting by bicycle, or in the morning quiet at the kitchen table with my coffee. On nice summer weekends, I love to take a book to the park with me.
Question #2: Which book have you most given as a present?
Oh boy! This falls into a few categories for me. Books are so personal, and there have been many that I’ve only given to a single person, particularly novels. But there are a few that have been repeat gifts:
For new parents, the children’s book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney… she was the first author I ever met as a little girl, and lupine flowers grew wild all over my home town in Maine, where the story is set. And I love the independence of the main character and her determination to fulfil her goal of leaving the world better than she found it… in a way that’s just right for her personal style.
For friends who love to cook, Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop. So versatile, so deep in its technical instruction, but so accessible – and great whether the cook is vegetarian or not, avoiding gluten or not, on a tight budget or ready to spend on a multi-course dinner! And the love of the author for good friends and good food shines through.
For friends going through a hard time of any kind, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed.
Question #3: What do you remember about your first book fair?
I love languages, and the very first Frankfurt party I ever went to was an incredible Tower of Babel situation! The day we set up the stand, before meetings had even started, with me completely jet lagged, I found myself in a post set-up-day cocktail conversation held entirely in French, which I hadn’t used conversationally in at least three years… with a Romanian, another American, a Czech, a Brit, an Estonian… and one person from France. You never know what the bridge language will be, you’re always out of your comfort zone, you’ll be speaking multiple languages, and everyone in foreign rights seems to have a story of having grown up moving between linguistic and cultural worlds. And, of course, I remember the sense of energy and discovery and possibility – and the sheer size of it, books from countries I’d never thought about, books from countries the U.S. doesn’t even import from, books on topics I’d never thought to consider!
Question #4: Tell us the resolutions you have made for this year.
This year I am NOT running a marathon! The last two years, I have run marathons in November, meaning that my training was peaking during Frankfurt time, and I was struggling to find time for 20-mile runs after preparing packing lists and pitch notes, or, worse yet, after waking up from late-night drinks at the Hof. I’m very impulsive about challenging myself, so I made a promise to myself to not sign up for any full marathons until at least 2018. Instead, I’m running the Munich half-marathon right before the fair with several other publishing friends to raise money for Room to Read! I’ve also resolved to give away enough of my books that my collection will fit only on my shelves, with no more 20-book stacks beside the shelves and next to my bed… but I can’t say I’ve made much progress there, or with the clothes in my closet, for that matter!
Question #5: Tell us about a bad habit, an obsession or a particular attitude you have picked up since starting to work at Quirk Books.
Ooh, a bad habit! I can’t believe I’m actually confessing this… but on book fair mornings in London or Frankfurt, where I’m chronically short on rest, I listen to Van Halen’s “Jump” every morning while I’m brushing my teeth. Quirk has a very eclectic list, meaning I have to squeeze meetings in with many different types of editors all day long without a break, so I need that little dose of goofy energy to get me started, even before my coffee. Do I also dance to it? Dear reader, I’ll never tell.
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