Meet Your Literary Matchmakers
Brandy O'Briant, Founder and Idea Generator on Overdrive
My love of books and bookstores started with a small independent store in Corpus Christi, Texas, in the 70s, called Page One Books. Run by a beautiful red-haired woman named Ginger, I spent hours in the store, devouring books, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, The Boxcar Kids, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary.
I simply couldn't get enough. My mother put me on a book budget, which I found completely unacceptable.
Frustrated with this new arrangement, I got on my bike, rode to Page 1 and offered Ginger my services in exchange for books. She paid me $5 in books for every day I stacked and arranged books, which was TWO Nancy Drew books. I was in heaven.
After university (English major, of course), I entered the world of advertising, but my love of books never abated. I believe in the power of books to expand horizons and generate understanding between humans. It wouldn't be going too far to say I believe books can change our world for the better.
I started Page 1 Books because I am that friend who always has a book recommendation for you, that friend who knows just which books you will love and will love you back.
Lisa Olson, Cookbook Club Lead, Kids Book Buyer, and Organizational Queen
For as far back as I can recall, books were an essential part of my life. The library was a haven where my love of reading took root. It was there you could find me escaping into Narnia or solving mysteries with Nancy and Ned. Reading sparked creativity and wonder, so it seemed only natural that as a kid I wrote and illustrated my own books as well.
As I grew and my interests expanded, I developed a passion for cooking. I shared this great love with my husband and family, as well as the rest of the world. Working as a food stylist and pastry chef, I regularly pored over cookbooks and food magazines.
C.S. Lewis wrote, 'Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.' For that reason, when I was asked to lead the Page 1 Cookbook Club, I knew that I had found my grown-up happy place.
Another joyous part of my job is that I am the children's book buyer. The biggest perk of that task is reading to youngsters at story time. It seems like just yesterday I was doing the same with my own (now grown) sons.
Sara Berlowe, Subscription Lead and Wandering Jew
I recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I studied English and World Literature. As a wandering Jew and scholar, books are where I dive in, meander around, create a palimpsest of often-incomprehensible scribbles and annotations, and then leave, hopefully, with a glimpse of truth or higher understanding. I am drawn towards works in translation and am usually reading Latin American and Slavic stories.
I prefer to be surrounded by books than people. Luckily, I work at Page 1 Bookshop. Here, I manage our subscription service, which allows me to see the entire process through, start to finish. We wrap our books with love, pack with zest, speed, and sore backs, and hopefully soon, those across the US and Canada receive the perfect book box. It's indeed a lucky job, and every month I get to feel a little bit like the tooth fairy.
Simon Hedger, Bookseller and Guy Who Gives The Shop Class
Simon is our very own tame British person. Ask him about tea and crumpets (he's a fan), the Royal Family (less so), and Brexit (less still). Simon is an actor, and can be seen on the Chicago theatre circuit playing colonial rotters, butlers and Shakespearean baddies, you know, British stuff ... and the occasional Australian, because aren't they basically the same thing?
If Simon were a novel, he'd be equal parts Generation X, High Fidelity and Jude the Obscure, but these days he, like your Dad, mainly starts to read non-fiction before falling asleep on the couch. If you care to wake him, it's English Breakfast with milk and no sugar please and thank you!
Gerri Sciarra, Events and Keeper of the Calendar
I’ve been enthralled by books my whole life. I feel giddy with the anticipation of cracking open a new book and getting lost in a story for a couple of hours. It’s a precious commodity in this world dominated by screen-time. As a graphic designer, I have particular interest in the printed word—title treatment, cover artwork, page layout, fonts used—it’s all so magical! And, as an avid reader, I’m fascinated and awed by the infinite ways that authors communicate with a simple, well-written sentence. I’m that person who reads the same paragraph many times over just to absorb the beauty of it. Ahhh.
These days, I find myself reading YA and graphic novels to keep up with what my kids are reading, and if you haven’t checked those genres out lately, you’re missing out. When it’s my choice, I go for historical and contemporary fiction, and there is usually a relevant non-fiction book I throw into the mix at the same time. How I wish I could read faster!