Kelly McMasters; Reader, writer, independent bookstore owner
KMcM: There are a few prizes that I keep my eye on every year. Writers will submit their manuscripts, maybe they’ve never been published…, but it’s a juried prize and there are a few that are almost always outstanding without fail, and those have become some of my favorite sleeper hits that I never would have found out about otherwise. Also books that are [mentioned in] literary magazines or are out from small presses. Their books are always quiet; I mean you’re not going to see them typically on the New York Times bestseller list. I hardly ever read what’s on the bestseller list; it’s just not where my interest lies. And then also I have a pretty decent network of people in New York who are publishing, and other independent book store owners who are saying what they’re excited about, and reading series—I like to see who’s reading where in a reading series and maybe I’ll look at a book that I hadn’t considered for the shop. And my mother. (Laughter). She’s a huge book person, and almost every conversation we have, she’s just read about some new book. I mean we’re reading totally different lists, so I always listen to my mother.
TRR: I’m the crazy aunt who always buys books for Christmas and birthdays for my nieces and nephews and any other children I know. I’m determined to turn them into readers, but I also never know how to choose books for children. Do you have any advice?
KMcM: Well, there are some pretty great and reliable “best 100 books of the century” lists that are in the Moody Road cannon. I think the New York Review of Books has a good one; the New York Public Library has a really good one. Many of them would be classics, so maybe they’ve read them, but I’m a big believer in the classics. I mean, not that I don’t believe in the new stuff, but for gifts, it’s kind of nice to give something that isn’t just out.