Claudia grew up in Pescadero, California, a small farming town 40 miles south of San Francisco. She attended CU Boulder in 2014 for her freshman year, then transferred to Pitzer College in Claremont, CA, graduating in 2018 with a BA in Literature and Studio Art. Her favorite part about working at Folio Books is having the opportunity to connect with the community over the thing she loves most—reading. Some of her favorite authors include Toni Morrison, Samantha Hunt and, most recently, Madeline Miller.
On your nightstand now: The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa and Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener. The Ogawa novel was originally published in 1994 in Japan and was translated into English just last year. I’m not usually one for science fiction, however her writing is so concise and so alluring it’s hard to put down. The second book is a memoir about being a woman working in Silicon Valley in the early 2010s and, surprise, exposes the morally-compromised recklessness of the tech industry.
Favorite book when you were a child: I was super dyslexic as a child and couldn’t really read until around the fifth grade so listened to an incredible amount of audiobooks. My favorite was A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. I felt super cool and precocious and “well-read” when I listened to Tim Curry pronounce words like “ersatz,” “austere” and “penultimate,” and honestly just wanted to be one of the Boudalaire siblings. I also remember obsessing over From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. Like who didn’t want to run away to live in the Met? Plus the protagonist’s name was Claudia, which didn’t happen nearly as often as I would have liked.
Your top five authors: This question is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. BUT, if I must respond: Toni Morrison (duh), Carmen Maria Machado, Samantha Hunt, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and, I know this may be an unpopular opinion, but Haruki Murakami (the old stuff).
Book you’ve faked reading: Swann’s Way by Proust. In my defense, I DID read an excerpt of it in a 20th Century World Lit. Class in college, I just didn’t read all 512 pages like I may have led on to some. 🙂
Book you’re an evangelist for: Drum roll please… MOBY DICK. I was just as surprised myself, but honestly this book is one layer after layer of genius. It definitely helped that my professor was a totally cute man working at an all women’s college, and that he often framed the narrative as a homoerotic quest to find that BIG. WHITE. SPERM WHALE. Enough said.
Book you’ve bought for the cover: The Innocents by Michael Crummey. It’s this beautiful, marbled landscape of purples, blues and pinks. The story itself is just as breathtaking, if not entirely upsetting.
Book you hid from your parents: I was lucky enough to never have to hide books from my parents, but I do recall guarding this sweat-soaked copy of The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls by Valorie Shaefer. My friends and I would huddle around it, examining the illustrated timeline of breast development in gawking awe.
Book that changed your life: Beloved by Toni Morrison. It was the first book that really made me see the way that language itself can entirely inform a narrative. Her writing introduced me to a lexicon of trauma, memory and remembering that I hold dear to my heart to this day.
Favorite line from a book: In Samantha Hunt’s novella, The Seas, the narrator begins:
If you were to try to leave, people who have known you since the day you were born would recognize your car and see you leaving. They would wonder where you were going and they would wave with two fingers off the steering wheel, a wave that might seem like a stop sign or a warning to someone trying to forget this very small town. It would be much easier to stay.
Growing up in a town of less than 800 people, this passage affects me in a way that can only be described as disturbingly visceral.
Five books you’ll never part with: Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Seas by Samantha Hunt.
Book you most want to read again for the first time: Beloved, Beloved, Beloved.
Character you most relate to: I always thought of myself as being most similar to Neil Gaimen’s Coraline or Roald Dahl’s Matilda: well-read, underappreciated and capable of tapping into some seriously magical business. Aside from the magic, I can’t say where this notion sprang from.
Favorite Anthology: The Norton Anthology of World Literature Vol. F: Twentieth Century (the same book that led me to fake reading Swann’s Way!).
Favorite contemporary picture book: Birdsong by Julie Flett. The illustrations are cool and contemporary, and the message feels feminist without being heavy handed in pushing some agenda.
A book you think every American should (re-)read and discuss: There There by Tommy Orange. Seriously important resource as we work to decolonize the narrative around Native Americans living in the contemporary now, not some fetishized historical past.