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 1 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 merchandise for every day I stacked and filled shelves, 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.
Cheryl DeFranceschi, General Manager and Genius Matchmaker
- My phone autocorrects the word "the" to "TBR"
- Long before the days of Goodreads and Excel, I kept a handwritten log of what I read. It goes back to January of 1980.
- My Tsundoko game is strong! I was once featured in an Atlas Obscura article about it - https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/reader-tsundoku-book-piles-revealed
- 4. The psychic Sylvia Browne once told me at a book event that "on the other side of the veil", there is time to read every single book that there is, so we have that going for us!
- 5. My favorite book is Darconville's Cat by Alexander Theroux
Lisa Olson, Customer Service Queen and Nicest Person Ever
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.
Gerri Sciarra, Operations Manager and Organizational Guru
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!
Rachel Rothe, Social Media Maven and Resident Millenial
I have always felt most comfortable when surrounded by books. The second I turned five, I was at the library requesting a library card and from that day on, I rarely left. I befriended all of the librarians and spent my summer breaks voluntarily restocking the shelves. My love for books started with Nancy Drew and Goosebumps and for a year straight, I read a Babysitter’s Club Book every single day. I could always be found carrying around a written list of every book I had read that year, a habit I continue to this day.
Now with a non applicable Biology degree from Mizzou under my belt, I enjoy being Page 1’s resident millennial by running all things social media. Creating literary content and discussing books with subscribers is a dream come true. I love seeing subscriber’s reactions to their picks through unboxing videos and sharing bookish memes and quotes.
My reading preferences have evolved over the years; I will read just about any genre although literary fiction and nonfiction are my consistent favorites. Though I now reach for Stephen King instead of Goosebumps, I feel just as excited every time I open a new book and I still get butterflies every time I walk into a book store.
Tatiana Pasewark, Public Health Major (before it was cool) and Literary Fanatic
When I was younger, I would get in trouble for stealing my sisters’ books, over due fines at the library, and reading at the dinner table. As a public health major I tend to read a lot of nonfiction, but also love science and historical fiction!
I have always been an avid reader; and my love of books was instilled in me from a young age by my English teacher mom. She knows the power of books and would foster our love of reading by letting us fill our arms and bags with stacks of books from the library and bookstores. When I heard Borders was closing I was shocked! We went there all the time, surely they got enough business my family alone.
Working at a bookstore has been a dream of mine, and never did I think I’d actually get to work in such a great place where I am surrounded by books and (amazing) recommendations from my friends and coworkers.
I look forward to helping you find your next favorite book!
Hailey Dightman, Tik Tok Maven and Resident Gen Z Fashionista
Reading became a significant part of my life when I read Jane Eyre. I was 15 and impressionable; swept up by the drama and gothicism, enthralled by the distance between my own life and the lives of Brönte’s characters. I moved my way through some of the classics (Tale of Two Cities, Northanger Abbey, and Far From the Madding Crowd are favorites) until I found contemporary literary fiction.
Around this same time Brandy, my step mom, had the idea for Page 1. In the guest bedroom of our house, I helped her wrap and box those first few months. Now, I work part-time at Page 1's storefront as a “literary matchmaker,” reading through subscriber’s reading profiles and finding their next favorite book. With the rest of my time, I am working towards my History major at Loyola Chicago, reading, making art, FaceTiming my twin sister, or dying my hair various bright colors. At the moment, my favorite book is The Idiot by Elif Batuman. Notable mentions include Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne. But, of course, this is subject to change!