Meet New GLIBA Board Member Joanna Parzakonis from this is a bookstore & Bookbug in Kalamazoo, MI!
Where do you work and how long have you been there?
We opened Bookbug in 2018 and its now neighbor this is a bookstore in 2017. These places and their purpose are my work and my loves.
Where might we be surprised that you have also worked?
My first gig out of college was opening and sorting mail (and identifying template form letters from a giant, clumsy binder) for then Vice President Al Gore's Senate office. It was not meaningful work, but it was the kind of job I thought I needed when I went to D.C. with no experience. Also, it paid me nothing. I worked nights and weekends at a busy restaurant where I became strangely (obsessively) invested in being the best server I could be. I was (stupidly) embarrassed to tell people about that job, but it is the one--more than the one on Capitol Hill or any of others thereafter--that helped form me into who I am to customers today.
What do you like to read? What's your current favorite book to handsell?
I love to read elegant, powerful sentences. Period. If there are several upfront in a novel, a work of non-fiction, a children's book, I'm had. Some customers and colleagues also know me as a passionate reader of and advocate for wordless picture books and graphic narratives. This may seem contrary to my claim about elegant, powerful sentences on a page. It is not.
This season I am loving to handsell There There by Tommy Orange, Breakout by Kate Messner, Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell, These Truths by Jill Lepore, Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, and We are all Me by Jordan Crane
Who are you when you're not in the store?
I am not a person who compartmentalizes myself. I realized, especially in young parenthood, how frequently I was asked to do this, in a way that people of a differently-presenting gender than mine were not. My work is my life and my life is my work. I do not leave my family and passions outside of my workspace (the bookstore), and I do not leave my work to tend the bookstore and its mission outside of my home, my travels, and my interactions with friends. I love being the bookstore person to a young child who recognizes me at the grocery, and I love being the expressive girls' soccer fan/dance-party enthusiast to the young soccer player or middle-aged acquaintance who recognizes me in the store. I am the same person in all places of my startlingly generous life.
What's your favorite bookstore other than the one you work in?
My answer to this question has everything to do with the fact that these stores: Kramer's Books in Washington, DC and McNally Jackson in New York's SOHO were profound and necessary havens/ inspirations to me during a time in life when I needed to lean on them. This was well before I understood (and was distracted by) the complexities of a bookstore's operation, and I was able to appreciate these stores for how they embraced me quietly and personally, alone. I remember traveling to both by foot, though they were assumed far from where I lived, and I would always leave them less tired and more nourished.
this is a bookstore & Bookbug
3019 Oakland Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49008