Tuesday, October 26, 2010

On the Bookshelf: What Barnes & Noble's manager is reading
Bowling Green Daily News, Sunday, October 24, 2010

Natalie Hinkle Boddeker has worked in the book business since the age of 16; a graduate of Western Kentucky University, she is a field training manager at Barnes & Noble Booksellers. She moved to Bowling Green with her parents from her hometown of Godfrey, Ill., in 1980 when the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant relocated here. She and her husband, Paul Boddeker, live in Warren County with their four children, three dogs and a horse.

Boddeker is an avid fiction fan who prefers to savor one novel at a time. “I live in the story that I’m reading and it just seems wrong to live two different lives at once,” Boddeker said. “I become so involved in books that I can’t put them down, and other things in my life suffer. I have to be really careful about when I read!”

Since purchasing a NOOK e-reader last year, Boddeker has read only digital books; she loves the convenience of being able to download titles that are instantly available whenever she has a few minutes to dive in. As the manager of a large bookstore, she has the great advantage of seeing hundreds of new books the minute they come in the door; thus, she is never without a new list.

Boddeker has always had a book in her hands, but remembers with particular fondness her first-grade teacher reading “Little House on the Prairie” aloud to the class. She became obsessed with all things Laura Ingalls Wilder, so much so that she later planned a vacation specifically to visit some of the Wilder home sites and museums. “My teacher must have appreciated my enthusiasm because she gave me the book after she finished reading it. It’s one of my favorite possessions.”

The False Friend,” by Myla Goldberg, is Boddeker’s current reading, chosen because she loves Goldberg’s prize-winning first novel, “Bee Season.” Themes of bullying, the fallibility of childhood memories, and the adults we become should make this new novel interesting and relevant to many.

As store manager, Boddeker is often called upon to make recommendations to customers, so she must be able to suggest titles that suit the tastes of a wide variety of readers. Among her favorite authors are Margaret Atwood, David Sedaris, Nick Hornby and Barbara Kingsolver.
A few especially memorable books are “Forever,” by Pete Hamill; “The Hours,” by Michael Cunningham; Ann Patchett’s “Bel Canto”; Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”; and “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett.

— Libby Davies, Barnes & Noble Booksellers

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