What kind of work do you do at Penguin? Do you have a crowning achievement, or memorable experience from your time here?
As brand director, I get to work with some of our most iconic brands including Roald Dahl, Mad Libs, and Corduroy. I do a lot of analysis and work with publishing, marketing, and sales on maximizing the potential of these brands. One memorable experience for me is working on John Green’s The Fault in our Stars. I remember when we each got copies of the top secret manuscript. I was the rep for Barnes & Noble at the time and was so excited to sell it. I remember when the pre-order button went up at BN.com and it was total mayhem (but in a good way) with customer demand. I switched positions to work in digital sales in 2011 and was so proud when Apple named it the Best YA book of the year in 2012. Now, working in the brand department, I still get to stay close to all of John Green’s great projects.
When you aren’t busy at work with books, do you have a hobby? Do you have any book recommendations related to this hobby?
I love travel and outdoor activities like running and biking. Bill Bryson is one of my favorite travel authors. He’s hilarious, accessible, and I learn so much from his books. I particularly loved A Walk in the Woods because it combines travel with the outdoors. I also love the history of New York and fiction or non-fiction books related to this. Some of my favorites are Secret New York: An Unusual Guide by T. M. Rives and Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, and I’m currently reading City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg. One hobby I don’t have but I seem to have a lot of books about is cooking. Not sure if I will ever put those books to good use.
Which books are you most excited about gifting this year?
I’m glad my family can’t read this because the surprises would be ruined. I have already purchased 18 books as gifts. I’m excited to give my five-year-old niece some more Ivy & Bean books (by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall), since she just read the first one and loved it. My brother-in-law is getting a copy of Bourbon Empire by Reid Mitenbuler, which is a fascinating history of whiskey. My dad is getting Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson. It’s a search for a sunken 17th-century pirate ship! One book I am recommending to anyone who loves international thrillers is I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. Set mostly in Turkey, it’s a fast paced read about murder and terrorism. I couldn’t put it down.
What is your favorite holiday read of all time?
Hands down—The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsberg. I heard it for the first time when our school librarian read it to my first grade class. I cried at the end when the boy’s family stopped hearing the reindeer bells. I vowed I would always hear the bells!
What’s your favorite part of working the Penguin Hotline?
As a “genre expert” for children’s books, I think I have the best job. I get to offer suggestions to anyone who needs assistance without having to worry about all the work that goes on behind the scenes (thanks to everyone who does that)!
Thanks, Stephanie! For custom book recommendations for the holidays, be sure to check out the Penguin Hotline!