Liz and Gianna are two of a dying breed--traveling sales reps for book publishers--who sell books in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and the Deep South. Since we're constantly on the road hawking books, we must find ways to amuse ourselves. So here we've decided to share our anecdotes, adventures, favorite books, and efforts in making the world (or at least these few states) a more literate place to inhabit.
You didn't think we could keep the book challenge going for 50 days, did you? If you're interested in further insights into the bookish and bizarre world of sales repping, "like" our Facebook page. Gianna sings. Isn't that worth following?
On to Day 50, which is really
Day 20: Favorite books given, favorite books received
I think my younger brother is the only person who still has the courage to buy me a book as a gift – I say "courage," but what I really mean is that he doesn’t really care if I own the book or not. At the point that it arrives on my door, he has done his part; the gift has been given. The thought is what counts and too bad sis if you have it already.
To his credit, he never has gotten me a double. He, in fact, gave me the best book I have ever received. [Penis Pokey?]
This past holiday he sent me the very cool Taschen (what do they publish that isn’t cool, by the way?) book, Billy Wilder’sSome Like it Hot. The book was published to coincide with Billy Wilder’s 95th birthday, and what a fantastic tribute it is. If you haven’t seen the film Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon (oh how I miss Jack Lemmon), please treat yourself; it's one of the best made films ever. [Agreed--a truly great comedy. And if you don't appreciate Marilyn Monroe, read Joyce Carol Oates's Blonde.] Actually, it just occurred to me that this book comes with the DVD so you know…. two birds, one stone.
Included in the book are over 50 pages of interviews with Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon (one of the last interviews before his death), co-screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond’s widow Barbara Diamond, producer Walter Mirisch, and of course Billy and Audrey Wilder (many of these were in Cameron Crowe’s book Conversations with Wilder but it is still a great companion piece). Also included are anecdotes about the film, original promotional material, the first draft, and the shooting script of the film. Of course this book wouldn’t be complete without the hundreds of photographs included; many of which are rare, candid shots of the cast and crew. [Gianna will be recreating these candid shots in the near future....]
I tend to give art books as gifts. I mean, you can’t say you don’t like an art book – you look foolish! One of my favorite books to give is called Image and Memory: Photography from Latin America 1866-1994 Edited by Wendy Watriss and Lois Parkinson Zamora.
The book collects the images of fifty-two photographers from about ten countries. I love documentary photography; the images from El Salvador’s civil war are truly haunting and the best part of the book for me.
The coolest thing about this book is that some of these photographers have never been in print before – this is the first time they can be viewed by a large audience.
I have received some great books as gifts even though most of my friends are scared to give them to me. I am not above making lists of the books I want when the holiday season rolls around. I get it. It's hard to shop for someone who has access to the Random House catalog AND regularly buys books from the other publishers too. Back when my discretionary money for books was hampered by my need to eat, though, my sister bought me a book while we were on vacation in Oregon. It was the first time that I'd ever been to Powell's, but we only had about an hour to spend in the store. I picked up a book as a souvenir--a signed copy of John Henry Days--but what I really wanted was the signed first edition of Margaret Atwood's Surfacing that I saw in a case. I wanted it so much that I even asked the bookseller to open the case and let me look at the signature, hold the book that Margaret Atwood had held. My sister, seeing my love for this book, went back and bought it for me. It was a selfless act, and it wasn't attached to a holiday. And Surfacing is a terrific book, by the way. It's about a group of four people taking a trip to the north woods in Canada. I do love my Canadian fiction.
I tend to give books that I've read before so that I know that they're good, and therefore I tend to give mostly literary fiction and narrative history. I do believe that if you love a story, you should have a special copy to represent that love. Last year, in August, my friend Elizabeth mentioned that she'd never even seen the hardcover first edition of People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia, one of her favorite books. I made a note and tracked down a copy, then gave it to her for Christmas. I think that "No fucking way!" meant she approved.