FTG 0014 - Starting a Second Career with Book Store Owner Lori Feathers '90


Guest Bio:

Lori Feathers ’90 Lib is the co-owner and principal book buyer for Interabang Books a large, independent bookstore in Dallas, Texas, which she opened after retiring from a legal career in 2017. After Lori earned her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in Russian from Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts in 1990 where she was Phi Beta Kappa, she earned a Juris Doctorate degree and a Master’s degree in international affairs, both from American University in Washington DC in 1993. Upon graduating she took a job at the US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, and during her tenure she traveled extensively throughout the former Soviet Union—spending time in 13 of the 15 former Soviet republics--as a member of various delegations working on US trade and investment issues in the region. After four years at the Department of Commerce, Lori was hired as an international oil and gas attorney by Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) and moved to Dallas, Texas. While at ARCO Lori chaired negotiations with companies such as Rosneft, Lukoil, and the Georgian State Oil Company for billion-dollar oil exploration and infrastructure deals, accumulating lots of frequent flier miles in meetings with officials in Moscow and Tbilisi. When ARCO was acquired by British Petroleum in 2000, Lori joined the corporate law firm of Haynes and Boone in Dallas as an international attorney. In 2005 she was hired by Dallas-based independent oil and gas producer Pioneer Natural Resources as its Associate General Counsel for International Business.

In addition to owning and running Interabang Books, Lori is a writer and a published book critic and was elected by her peers to serve two terms on the Board of the National Book Critics Circle, a national organization of book reviewers and publishing professionals. As a Board member she sits on the jury for the annual National Book Critics Circle awards. She is also Chair and Founder of the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses, a literary prize that supports the work of small publishers in the United States and Canada. In addition to reading books and writing about them, Lori enjoys a full life in Dallas with Kelem, her partner of 26 years, and their English bulldog, Botero.

Episode Specifics:

In this episode, Lori shares her insights on:

· Handling world changes that directly impact your major – like the fall of the Soviet Union

· Coming to college from a rural, small town and starting at a Commonwealth Campus

· Discovering passions and career interests in general education courses and deciding on a career in law

· Working for the government, private industry, and private law firms

· What it’s like moving far away from home after college – or law school

· Learning a new industry to be an effective lawyer

· Strategies for networking

· Tips for students pursuing travel intensive careers

· The differences between confidence and competence

· How to know when to call it a day on career #1 and pivot to something new

· How to position yourself as a business against the giants

· An inside look at what it’s like being a bookstore owner and book buyer

· Ways to be involved in the literary community without being an author

· Tackling childhood activities as an adult hobby


Schreyer Honors College Links:






Upcoming Events

• Scholars – Need Assistance? Book an Appointment!

• Alumni – Learn Why and How to Volunteer

Make a Gift to Benefit Schreyer Scholars

• Join the Penn State Alumni Association


Credits & Notes:

This content is available in text form here.

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen ‘11 Lib (Schreyer).

The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer.

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used under Creative Commons License.

The theme music is “Conquest” by Geovane Bruno, accessed via Pixabay and used under Creative Commons License.

Greeting scholars and welcome to following the Gong, a podcast of the Shire Honors College at Penn State. Following the gone takes you inside conversations with our scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career in life advice and it spanned your professional network. You can hear the true bread of how schollar alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rind the gone and graduated with honors, and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Shawn Doheen, class of two thousand and eleven and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back. Lori feathers, class of nineteen ninety, is the CO owner and principal book buyer for in Tara Bang Books, a large independent Bookstore in Dallas, Texas, which she opened after retiring from a legal career in two thousand and seventeen. After Laurie earned her bachelor of Arts degree with honors in Russian from Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts in Nineteen Ninety, where she was Phi Beta Kappa. She earned a JD degree and a master's degree international affairs, both from American University in Washington DC. In addition to owning and running in Tara banging books, Laura as a writer and published book critic and was elected by her peers to serve two terms on the board of the National Book Critic Circle, a National Organization of book reviewers and Publishing Professionals. As a board member she sits in the jury for the annual National Book Credits Circle Awards, and she's also chair and founder of the Republic of consciousness price for small presses, a literary prize. It supports the work of small publishers in the United States and Canada. In our conversation, Laurie talks about handling world changes that directly impact your major like the fall of the Soviet Union, coming to college from a rural small town and starting at a commaal campus, discovering passions and career interests in general education courses and deciding on a career in law. She also talks about what it's like working for the government, private industry and private offertins, what it's like moving far away from home after college or law school, learning a new industry to be an effective lawyer, and strategies for networking. Lorie also talks about tips for students pursuing travel in tensive careers, the differences between confidence and competence, how to know one to call it a day on career one and pivot to something new, how to position yourself as a business against the giants and inside look at what it's like being a bookstore owner and book buyer, ways to be involved in the literary community without being an author, and tackling childhood activities as an adult hobby. With that, let's dive into our conversation with Lori following the Gong. Lori, thank you so much for joining me today on the show. I'm really excited for our conversation. Lorie. You've had to entirely do different careers and I'm really excited to talk about both of those with you. But if you can just give us a quick overview and glimpse into your two part journey to kick us off, I'll try to V quick, Shan, but it's a little bit of a meandering path, I would say. So I graduated with an honors degree in Russian from Penn State in one thousand nineteen ninety, and I was unsure of what to do with that degree. So I applied both to law school and also to master's degree programs in Russian, and ultimately I decided to go to law school and I went to American University in Washington DC and got my law degree and my masters of International Studies degree. I chose American because I knew that I wanted to be dealing with international law international relations, especially as that pertain to the fast eroding Soviet Union. I say that because this was around nineteen ninety, glass nost Paris troika. It was becoming obvious that the...

Soviet Union was rapidly becoming a very different type of place, at least in the way it was governed. So, after graduating from law school, I found a job with the International Trade Administration at the US Department of Commerce and Washington DC, and I was working as an attorney there. First I was working in a kind of a development office that worked closely with the United States Agency for International Development. I was traveling to Eastern Europe a lot kind of helping those governments figure out how to deal with a lot of commercial law issues that they were just starting to get a grapp bull on. Then I moved to a different office there and I was working on kind of a liaison position between United States oil companies and the government of Russia and the former Soviet republics to try to help US companies who wanted to invest there. I actually did my journal Article in law school on US investments in the Russian oil and gas industry, so that kind of worked well. When I was at commerce in that role I got to talk to a lot of executives at oil companies and one company particular, Atlantic Richfield, had just signed a big joint venture with Luke Oil, who at the time was the largest oil company in Russia, and they asked me to join them and that took me to Dallas, Texas, where I or I never left. I didn't know that I was going to forever be a Texan, but it seems that that's the way it's working. And I worked for Atlantic Urchfield until they were acquired by British Petroleum in two thousand. At that time I had an opportunity to move to Houston in but it was going to be mostly domestic work, so I decided not to do that. I went to a law firm in Dallas, hands and Boone, a large commercial international law firm, and I continued to represent not just oil and gas companies but big commercial companies there. I was there for about four and a half years and had the opportunity to go to another oil company in Dallas, Pioneer Natural Resources, and I was hired as the Associate General Council for international there and I worked there for about, I think, nine years and then I decided I don't want to practice law anymore and I retired from law practice and opened an independent book store in Dallas called in Terra Bang books. And now you're up to date. And Somehow, on top of that, you also are a volunteer with the college. You're on the schollar Alonie Society Board, so can't forget that. And you're only on that because you were a university scholar. And I'd love to take it back to the very beginning of the story that you all got a brief preview of here, of how you came to be at Penn State. And if I'm correct, I believe you started at the Altuna campus. I did so I grew up in a in a very kind of sleepy cal pasture type of community about thirty five miles from out tuna and when I graduated from high school I really didn't know what I wanted to do. I had initially enrolled actually at Chippensburg University in their teaching program but it never really felt right and by the time I kind of got my act together I didn't really have time to do anything but applied to Autterna campus. I don't want to make it sound like it's like a last resort, but it was my I didn't have to move. I lived from home my my first semester and it was an easy thing and I...

...loved it. They're the first semester I took a course on Russian culture and civilization by a professor named Irene heard and it totally changed my life. I didn't know much about Russia, I didn't know much about what I wanted to do and I was kind of driftless before I started at out tuna campus and I soon, very, very quickly got a direction that I wanted to do things international global. I took German language when I was out at out tuna campus. They didn't offer Russian language courses at the time at out tuna campus, but that's how I got Tuesday college the beginning of my sophomore year because that same professor, Irene, heard were a letter of recommendation for me to come up to main campus so I could start taking Russian language. I think that a great origin story. You know, you're trying to figure out your place, what your vision is. You know, a lot of trier's collars come in and there like I know exactly what I want to do, and you took advantage of, you know, the Jen Ed requirements and felt some things out and and found something. Because I was curious on how you came to pick Russia, especially in the late S, which was a very transformative time for what was then the Soviet Union and the Soviet block. And I'm curious, knowing that you had a very international focus, were you able to study abroad while you were at Penn State? I did. I was very lucky in that respect. So the summer between my junior and senior year I studied at what was then Leningrad State University, Snell St Petersburg. There were it wasn't strictly a Penn state program but it was a program that was led by Georgetown University and there were a hundred and twenty five of us and we went as a group and we were there for eight weeks summer of one thousand nine hundred and eighty nine, and so that was probably not the last time that you went to Russia, and we'll get into your travel in a moment, but you know you're getting into your last year of college and you know you talked a little bit about this, but what was it that drew you to a career in law as opposed to any of the other options that a humanity is, a liberal arts degree opened up for you? Maybe lack of imagination. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with a Russian degree other than teach. And as as you said, the Russia was was at a turning point at the time and it seemed really exciting what potentially could happen there. You know, it's it's easy to forget now, but in Eighty Eight, eight ninety, you know, we thought Russia could be, you know, a big commercial powerhouse and it could be like Japan and the United States and Germany, you know, like a Western democratized, you know, business oriented economy, and so just the potential of what could happen, it seemed like getting some some really practical skills could help with that, and so that's kind of why I veered toward toward a law degree. I think that's that's great. And you said you also paired it with master's degree at the same time. Did you graduate in the normal law school track of three years with that second degree? It took me three and a half years. I have to say that the master's degree was kind of like the I don't know when I was, when I was a kid, my my grandmother always used to grind up a pill and then put my favorite at jam on top of it to, you know, to get it down my throat, and I felt like the master's degree was how I made a lot of my law course...

...is palatable, because I didn't really have a fond love for towarts and constitutional law and a lot of evidence, evidence, criminal procedure, a lot of the things that I had to take that really just didn't light up my imagination. But those master's degree courses in international studies with a focus on the East Europe Russia stuff really helped and and made all of it a little bit more enjoyable for me, I'd say. So you spend a couple of years at the US Department of Commerce in you know, you're working with USAID, and a few years in you make the transition from government work to the private sector. How did that come about? What was that transition like, going from federal work to private work? It was exciting, it was a little scary. The main thing I loved living in Washington DC, but I had enormous law school loans at the time and I was not making a lot of money as a young lawyer with the United States government. So this opportunity to kind of work on this exciting new joint venture with a big international oil company just really kind of checked all the boxes in terms of where I thought I wanted my career to go at the time, and it was a fantastic decision. That was a that was a great job. You know, I often wonder if if the company hadn't been acquired by British Petroleum, if I would still be at Atlantic Richfield company today, you know, working on deals there, because I really, I really enjoyed that work. Very much. And so that move, that's what precipitated you moving to Dallas. Correct to fight from the yes overview. So you're from outside of ALTUNA. You just dribe a kind of sleepy what was that like, kind of uprooting your whole life? And DC's drivable from all tuna. That's a pretty short drive, but moving to Texas, that's an entirely different ball game that we're talking about. What was that like? How did you go about that? What would you recommend to students who are taking, you know, their first job out of college? We're going to graduate school really far from home. Yeah, I didn't investigate Dallas at all when I got the job offer. I had never been to Dallas and the first time I I arrived in Dallas or visited Dallas was for my second job interview. The first one took place in DC and then they flew me to Dallas to, you know, kind of meet a lot of the people that I would be working with. I didn't, I have to say, I didn't move here alone. My boyfriend of twenty six years moved with me then and I we're still together now. But it was it was a little bit hard to integrate into a new community. You know, Dallas is a very different city culturally than Washington DC, and it was I made good friends with with a lot of people that I was working with. That was there were a lot of young people at Atlantic Richfield company, not necessarily working in my specific area, but, you know, a lot of young petroleum engineers and business people and accountants and that kind of thing. So that was that was nice and we had a lot of like business retreats, so I got to know them and some of them are still my lifelong friends. But I think that my advice for students would be, you know, to don't expect any place to be just like the place that you've that you've left or that you've come from, and you've got to just really keep an open mind about where you are and it was interesting for me to kind of...

...find out about like the Texas culture. You know, I went to the state fair and we, you know, kind of went to billy bobs and we, you know, we we wanted to kind of feel and see what it was all about, and that was that was a lot of fun too. It's it's a lot of discovery and I can certainly echo that before coming back to penn state. I spend some time down so health in North Carolina and Kentucky and, you know, moving to a different part of the country, there's so many cool things that you can explore and I think that's great to try and understand and, you know, embrace those things and you can always come home and visit family, which I think is which is fantastic. More of a deeper question, not a hard question, but a deeper question that I'm really curious about. So you majored in Russian, you're working in law, you got masters in International Studies International Affairs, but you're working in the energy sector, particularly Petroleum. You know there's the whole majors here at Penn state around all of those areas. How did you go about learning the intricacies of a holly different industry in order to be the the legal support for these companies? Luckily, at Atlantic Richfield we had a policy where, going into negotiations, whether they be, you know, foreign foreign representatives coming to us or US flying to them, there would always be a negotiator and an attorney paired up in each negotiation. It was a crash course in in kind of having to learn this. I don't know, if most people realize, and I kind of didn't until I got to Dallas, but in Texas oil and gas laws or required, course to pass the Texas bar. It was nothing that I ever took or that was required of me when I took the New York and Massachusetts bars. So and luckily I'd been practicing law long enough that I didn't have to take the Texas bar. I what I did what they called waived in to to Texas bar membership. But it was it was really some fast learning. You know, I sat in on a lot of it, just listened to a lot of people getting presentations and talking about various facets of the oil industry. I you know, I was given and begged and borrowed a lot of, you know, dictionaries of oil and gas terms and a lot of things like that, and it was, it was, it was kind of intense and immersive, but it was also in some ways really fascinating because it was a whole different aspect of things that I just I just didn't know and and wasn't aware of. So you mentioned that, you know, after a few years Atlantic Richfield. Did I get that correct? Yes, Arco, Uh Huh. They were bought by BP Uh Huh, and that's what precipitated you didn't want to move to Houston, so you went and became an in from being an inhouse counsel to a private law firm. Can you explain what those the different the nuance differences between those types of attorney rules? Yeah, I I guess when you're in house counsel, you you kind of are at the at the hand of the business people, if you've got good business people. There's always a joke about, you know, amongst inhouse attorneys that Oh, they only bring us in when something goes really wrong or at the last minute because they don't want to hear US say no, we shouldn't do that or we can't do that. So but I had really good business people that I was working with and they really kind of wanted me.

They're from from the get go. When you're at a law firm, it is you're you're more removed, okay, and and you're not really you're not able to attend all the meetings and you aren't really there to kind of be involved in a lot of the decisionmaking, and that can be a little bit frustrating when you're used to having a seat seat at the table from, you know, from the very beginning of thinking about a project until the contracts get signed. So it was different. I have to say that the one thing about law firm work that I didn't think that I would like at all and a lot of people complain about, is the develop the business development aspect of it. I really love the challenge of trying to foster and nurture new client relationships. I thought that was that was interesting and for a while I was kind of visiting and going to different law firms doing workshops and different lunch lectures on different aspects of international law just to kind of get my name out there and to try to facilitate a relationship with some of the the oil and gas companies in and around Dallas and Houston, and I really enjoyed that. I found it to be to be really challenging. That sounds like you were doing a great job of networking. Yes, do you have any other strategies that you found helped in that space that current scholar could employee as they're starting to build their networks? Yeah, something that, when I look back now, I don't think I took enough opportunity to do is kind of really talking to a lot of the more senior attorneys that I was working with and understanding kind of their career trajectory and and how they got to be doing what they were currently doing and what areas of the law that they worked in. You know, when you're at a big corporate law firm, there are so many many aspects of what you could specialize in and little niche areas that pop up that you know they need someone to become an expert in a certain area because business clients want it or asking for it. So I wish that I had spent more time kind of really talking in depth to some of those attorneys about their career trajectory. I will say working for a corporate law firm can be kind of rolling and very a lot of hours. So sometimes, like when the work is done, you're just too tired and you don't want you don't want to hang around at nine o'clock at night and you know, talk to someone about you know, like well, what did you start working on and how did you get into this practice group? But I think it's really it's a really valuable thing and just to just to cultivate mentorship within a big corporate law firm is a great thing as well, and in really any career that you go into a you know you're listening to this and you're on the fence about applying for law store taking the L S at that. That translates to literally any other industry that you can think of. Lori, you were talking earlier. Obviously you given the specific type of law that you were practicing in the in the oil space and working in eastern Europe, you did a lot of traveling, I imagine. Do you have any tips for students who end...

...up pursuing travel heavy rolls, be it in law, consulting or otherwise? Well, learn how to pack very efficiently and lightly, because you do not want to be checking baggage because it's going to get lost and then you're not going to have anything to wear and you'll be wearing the same clothes for a very long time. I can't tell you how many trips I've been on that someone's language got lost and it can then you're then you're like running around trying to like buy something at the local bazarre and it's yeah, it's just not it's just not good. I loved the travel. It was I got to go to some really funky places and a lot of the travel that I did was before hundred and eleven. So we would literally like drive in convoys through Uzbeka Stan and with the American flags, you know, flapping. It was like a TV show really, and the women with their colorful skirts picking cotton. But we at that time we didn't try to be inconspicuous. We were like, you know, here comes the US government and now. I mean, there would be no way that that would happen. I mean I also did do some travel in like bulletproof vehicles when I was on some of these trips, but we were much it was a much more, I guess, anxiety ridden experience because we were just so naive about terrorism and you know what could happen after eleven, though, I did also go to some weird places. I spent I spent about twelve days in Iran with Atlantic Richfield, and that was on the eve of the revolution and I'll never remember. We were sitting, or never forget, rather we were sitting in a government office having a meeting. I think it was the oil ministry. I can't quite tell what there were so many ministries that we were meeting with and literally we could hear death to America being chanted outside the window during the meeting. We didn't know what they were saying because of course they were speaking in Persian, but but we were told that's what was going on. So yeah, it was. It was really fascinating to travel to all those many places. I got to see thirteen of the former fifteen Soviet republics. So if you have an opportunity to travel for your job, absolutely do it. I know that it gets it gets more and more difficult, I feel like, as as you kind of go through different phases of your life, you know, relationships and then family, children, those kind of things, and it does, it does take a toll on your time and your body because you know you're just losing a lot of time on their plane. But it's a fascinating opportunity. You know, not many Americans are on the regular getting to travel to some of these locations, especially countries like a ran. So emphasize that point. If you have an opportunity to travel for your job, take advantage of it while you can. Your Life may not always amend to that orry. I asked you in the questionnaire that I send all of our our guests in advance if you had any great pieces of advice, and normally I would probably ask this at the end, but I think if it's in here before we talk about career number two for you, and you made a reference to this idea of confidence and competence, or not necessarily the same thing, and in the professions, and I wanted to ask how do you stand out if you are maybe a little bit more shy or not to complete these two things, but introverted in a professional setting? I don't want to say a word that I shouldn't say in this poet podcast, but in the in life in general and...

...in the business world in particular, there are a lot of bullets out there and it's really easy, and it was. It was very easy for me to be intimidated because, you know, I would see all of these people walking around and we would be in meetings about, you know, how to draft a contract or what kind of legal instrument we would need to affectuate something that the client would want. And you know, people, people spouted off, you know, answers with like well, of course we need this, and you know as such, such complete confidence, and I don't know at this point in my life. I'm I'm fifty three and I realize that not being absolutely sure of yourself right out of the gate or short of the answer is a much more mature and measured and thoughtful way of looking at things. It's okay to say, you know, I don't know the answer right now, but I'm going to I'm going to find out for you and I will get back to you soon on that. In law practice they really almost want the answers, you know, yesterday. But sometimes sometimes you're not going to get a, you know, the correct or good answer right away, and I think people respect the fact that you know that you're a careful, thoughtful person rather than just pretending that you know the right way to do everything or the only way to do something or all of the answers. I think that's really insightful and a great way to wrap up part one of our conversation. Here. Insert the record stretch noise. You pivoted too earlier. At some point you decided to hang up your law career. What was it that drove you to call it a day on the legal portion of your of your career? I think it was just a growing realization that I didn't want to practice law my entire life. I will say that the types of law that I was able to practice during the last years of my my corporate life was not international primarily, and so that was that was disappointing to me. When I was hired at my last oil company as the Associate General Council for international that all seemed great, but then that company quickly started divesting themselves of their international assets, and so I found myself working more and more on domestic law and domestic oil and gas matters, which was not as interesting to me and also was not an area that I was as a dept at or or experienced at. US oil and gas law as a whole different can of worms than international oil and gas law, for reasons that I won't bore you with. So I I knew that, you know, maybe I wasn't going to practice law forever and to be honest, I didn't really think that I would jump to something new right away. I just thought, you know, by this certain time I'm going to leave law practice. And I'd always been a really avid reader, fiction reader in particular, and I started during my last few years of law practice. I started writing book reviews on the side that were published...

...in a few print but mostly, mostly online publications, and I loved it. It was just, I felt, very fulfilling to be able to kind of do something different and to look at a piece of of literature and kind of interpret it in the way that I saw it and to share my interpretation with others. And so what happened that I wasn't planning on was, as I was thinking about when it was best to retire, an opportunity came to open a bookstore in Dallas, which staalist really didn't have an independent book store at the time, and so it was kind of one of those really you know, lightning flashes. That was well, I'm kind of kind of feeling like mentally disengaging from law practice and now there's this opportunity and so maybe I'll speed up this law retirement and you know, this other opportunity for the bookstore probably won't come around again for a while, if ever. So that's what made me jump. So this was in two thousand and seventeen correct all right. So obviously a lot of folds by their books on Amazon borders was going out of business few years ago and detail is just growing, growing, growing. How does your store differentiate from those really convenient, modern solutions and draw in customers and drawing a community. Well, we understood right off the bat that we would need to have a very active and effective online store, and we do. You can order almost anything that you order from Amazon from my online store and I can't promise the same low, low prices that Amazon because we're not selling in this same quantity. I mean, we saw the book at the retail price, whereas Amazon deeply discounts it. I also don't have a in Tara Bang Books Prime Service, so I'm not going to be able to promise you that you're going to have your book in twenty four hours or less. But the online component is really important and it's never been more important than it has been the last year and a half with the covid crisis, because a lot of people don't want to go to a store. And in Dallas we didn't have to close businesses quite as long as other parts of the country, but there was, you know, a two month period last year where we were closed and we only had online sales. But I think that the experience is what differentiates an independent book store from a big box store or an Amazon you come into an independent bookstore and you feel like you're around people that love and no books, and we say at our store that the book really isn't the main product because you could get that book anywhere. The product is our people, the people that are selling you the books and are talking to you about the books and telling you what books they love. They're asking you what books you really love and they're able to kind of, you know, make suggestions about books that that you might not be be aware of and that you you don't know about, and so it's a whole kind of process of discovery that I think that you don't get with a lot of other retail types of experiences, online or in person, and I think that's what makes...

...independent bookstores like my store and Terrior Bang books kind of special. And we do that. You know, if people don't come into the store, we have people that you know, email us all the time as well about, you know, I like this book, Do you have something to suggest? And then they'll they'll buy it on our online store. But it's so much, so much more fulfilling, I think. Lori. Can you tell me a little bit about what a day in the life of a book store owner and book buyer is actually like. It's a lot of looking at online book catalogs for me, which I love because I get to see all the great books that are coming out six months from now, and that's a real treat for me, and I get to ask my sales ups to provide me with advanced copies of those books, which is a super big treat. So I can tell you about some books that are coming out this fall that you know, that that no one's been able to read yet, but but if you're a bookseller you can do it. So that's one of the big benefits of of being a book buyer at a bookstore. I think the Daytoday is is just a lot of kind of trying to be always responsive to the customers. You know, I think we sometimes ask the customers more than they ask us in terms of, you know, they'll come in and ask for a book and will, you know, see if we have it or see if we can order it for them if we don't have it on the shelf. And but we're at we're constantly asking. So you know, how did you hear about that book? Why are you wanting to read that book? A lot of times I'll tell us, Oh my book club's reading it. Well, right, there's a you know, note to self immediately. Okay, well, we need to get probably eight or nine more copies of that book in the store because other people are going to come in and want it as well. So it's a constant kind of the bookstore never looks the same on any given day. You leave it at night and you come back the next day and there'll be new books, different books, and it all depends upon what we're feeling from our customers and also a lot of what's going on in the world, you know, in terms of, you know, recent events in Afghanistan. So now you know, people are wanting to to read regard kipling's book, you know, or short story about Afghanistan, and they're wanting to read histories of the military operations there and and so, as a constant kind of adaptation to what's going on in the world around us. So you have your hands full running a bookstore, which running a business and being a small business owner is its own challenge, but you're also really involved, again, not only with the Honors College, but in the literary community and you're doing a lot in that space and you know, being a critic, podcasting, even creating some literary words. Can you give us some insight into the broader literary community that you're a part of and leading in? Yeah, it's a really fun and involved community and there's a lot of areas of of mutual support, and one of those is a book award that I'm launching here in the United States and Canada called the Republic of consciousness prize for small presses. And I don't know that a lot of people in the general public that don't follow this really are aware, but a vast majority of the books that are available for purchase in book stores are published by Five Soonto befo big conglomerate companies,...

...and that really is a it's a it's a situation that has evolved. It wasn't always like that, but those, those five, have started gobbling up other medium sized companies and there's just been a consolidation that has been to the detriment of kind of editorial choices and publishing wide variety of literature by a diverse section of the population and kind of getting different perspectives and different literary styles out there. Any time, I think that an especially in an in an art form like books, where you have just kind of a few voices curating and making decisions about what gets published and what writers are deserving of being published. Your kind of your kind of limiting the choices, and that's why I really do my best at the store and just in life, in my writing life, to to support small presses, because they're really doing innovative things and they are taking risks that aren't based on commercial considerations, because they're not they're not awarding authors, you know, or signing authors up to contracts, you know, for a three book deal for nine hundred thousand dollars. They're they're making decisions more based on noncommercial factors and their their run on really kind of tight budgets and they're usually tiny, tiny, sometimes just like husband and wife, you know, and running the small press out of their house. So I really admire what they do and I'm really happy that we've been able to to establish this prize that will be awarding books for the two thousand and twenty two publishing year and hopefully hundred years beyond. I hope it has a good legacy. I think that's great. You're finding a really important space that needs leadership and stepping into it and honestly I wouldn't expect anything less from a scholar alumni like yourself to do that. We're in the tail end of our conversation here, but I'm curious. You obviously do a lot of reading. You do a lot of writing, first as a lawyer and now as a book store owner. How do you know? And for a lot of folds this question would probably answered with reading and writing, but for you that is your work. So what else do you do to unwind? Well, I have kind of adopted just in the last year and a half a real passion for ballet and I never, I never took a ballet class. You know, really in my life I wasn't one of those cute little babies that where, you know, the little tootoos, but I I've always been, you know, kind of physically active and I've done a lot of, you know, fitness classes in those kinds of things. But but ballet is really kind of I don't know, there's something so graceful and beautiful about it and I'm not beautiful and graceful at it yet, but I guess, I guess there's always the aspiring to some debut that and I just have really enjoyed it. It's super challenging, it's really hard work and I spend probably somewhere between twelve and fifteen hours a week in the ballet studio. Wow, that is really incredible that you picked this up at this point in life and I think for scholars there's always time for health and wellness. There's always time for the arts. I think that's something you would probably agree with. Lori absolutely you've got to make that time. Is there anything I haven't asked about that you wanted to take...

...a chance here to impart some parting wisdom on our scholars? I guess the only thing that I would say, and it's probably become a parent based upon the description of the convoluted career history that I have, but I think it's important to be open to some of the unexpected things that are going to happen along your career path. I guess I think that it's it's good to have a plan, and I probably had less of a plan when I started at Penn state than almost anyone I can think up in terms of understanding what it was that I wanted to do when I grew up. But I think that having a plan is isn't is important and it can really help you set some some milestones. But don't get hung up on a career trajectory because I think that you'll find as you get into your career and different phases of life, what you thought that you might want to do or need to do to feel feel fulfilled professionally will change and it won't be the same and and you'll see things and opportunities will come up and you'll never guess that that would have been kind of where you were going to go, but you just kind of it's life and you just when you grab those opportunities, I think you're seldom disappointed because at least even if they don't work out, it was something that you experienced and you tried and it will definitely make you think about the next opportunities in a different and more kind of complete way than then if you just kind of stuck to the stuck to the straight line that you thought that you were on. I think that is great advice and I hope that you listening will consider taking that under consideration. Or if a scholar wants to get in touch with you and keep this conversation going a little bit further, it's Moore more, whether it's law or being a small business owner and entrepreneur, especially in the literary space. How can they connect with you? I would love to connect. The best way to connect to me is through my twitter at Lorie feathers, or you can email me. It's Lori. Lori at in Tara Bang Bookscom and in Tarabang is I and ter a be an g bookscom. Last question tradition here on the show. If you were a flavor of Berkie creamery ice cream, which would you be? And as a scholar Alumna, why that flavor? Can I have two flavors? Can I have a double? Can have a double scoop? Well, I'm not actually at the Creamery, so I will allow mixing flavors here. Okay, good. So my first scoop would be thaw on, gold ribbon ripple, because I did thon and it was like the most amazing experience of my college life probably. So that's my first scoop. My second scoop would be white out because, you know, it's foot it's college football season, man, so we've got a you know, I know white out is boring because it's just vanilla, but you gotta love the name and I'm ready for a good white out. You know, it's funny. I think you're the first one to pick some of these newer flavors and not the classic standby, so that is great to hear. I'm not sure when this is published in comparison to him we're chatting now, but hopefully we're talking about about forty eight hours before penn state kids off Wisconsin. So hopefully it went well by the time you're listening to this. Yes, yes, for you in the future from when we're chatting here. So good luck to the nittney lions on the Gridiron and all of our other teams taking off their seasons here this fall. Lori thank you so much for...

...joining me today and imparting all of your advice on two wildly different industries for our scholars today. So thank you. Thank you, Sean. I was a real pleasure. Thank you, scholars, for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show probably supports the Shure Honors College Emergency Fund Benefiting Scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at rays dot PSU DOT edu, forward slash shreire. Please be sure to hit the relevance, subscribe, like or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the college on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin to say uptodate on news, events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or a scholar alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on following the gone, please connect with me at scholar alumni at PSU DOT ETU. Until next time, please stay well and we are.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (34)