A Q&A with Faith Ryan, Temple University Press’ new Production Assistant

This week in North Philly Notes, we get to learn more about Temple University Press’s new production assistant, Faith Ryan. Faith comes to Temple after having worked most recently as an Associate Project Manager at Vista Higher Learning in Boston. She received her BA in Writing, Literature, & Publishing from Emerson College in May of 2016.

 

What were your past publishing jobs?

During college and for a while after graduating, I worked as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader, reviewing Wiley journals and books for Delta Education. Most recently, I was an Associate Project Manager at Vista Higher Learning, a world languages textbook publisher based in Boston. Over my four years at Vista, I managed countless Spanish and French textbooks (elementary through collegiate level) and did support work on a few German and Italian titles.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

Currently, I am reading The Empire of Gold, by S. A. Chakraborty, and We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State, by Kai Strittmatter.

What’s the last great book you read?

Yerba Buena, by Nina LaCour. It’s a wonderful read. I can’t remember the last time I read a book with such clear and realistic characterizations. No part of the book felt contrived, as is typical of romances, and I was impressed by how honest and moving I found the characters’ struggles.

What book made the greatest impact on you?

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick. I picked it up way back in high school and I still think about it to this day. It’s an incredible piece of reporting, and is the standard against which I judge every other nonfiction book I read.

Which writers do you love (or hate) the most?

Geraldine Brooks and Tracy Chevalier are both longtime favorites of mine. I love nothing more than to disappear into a slow, well-written historical novel, and they’re some of the best in the business as far as I’m concerned. Year of Wonders, Girl with a Pearl Earring, and The Last Runaway are my favorites from them.

When and how do you read?

I read constantly: mornings, evenings, lunchtime. Sometimes I’ll read all day on the weekends if it’s a particularly good book and I don’t have anything on the schedule. Mostly I read physical books, either ones I’ve purchased or borrowed through the library, though sometimes I’ll listen to audiobooks if I’m traveling.

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

I have to go with Sam Anderson’s Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-class Metropolis. Despite never having set foot in the state of Oklahoma and having zero interest in basketball (a major through line of the book), I loved Boom Town. The book is just as wild and winding as its subtitle—and very entertaining.

Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine?

This is a bit of an impossible question, as heroic characters don’t interest me much… But I’ll go with Belle from Beauty and the Beast if only because I, too, would love to read all day and be gifted my own personal library.

What Temple University Press book has particular meaning to you?

Yasemin Besen-Cassino’s The Cost of Being a Girl: Working Teens and the Origins of the Gender Wage Gap. Like all working women in America, I’m very aware of the pay disparity between men and women. And like most adults, I mostly think of it in terms of its deleterious effect on adult women—but of course this issue affects teenage girls as well. As Besen-Cassino’s book lays out, the long-lasting consequences are not only financial but psychological as well.

What Temple University Press book would you recommend to someone?

I would recommend Miriam Frank’s Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America. LGBTQ+ people have always been at the forefront of battles for social change, and of course the history of unions is no different. I think it’s important all working people know how their rights came to be, especially as queer figures aren’t often highlighted in traditional histories.

What book will you read next?

Next, I am planning to read We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland, by Fintan O’Toole. I heard him speak when I was volunteering at the Free Library several months ago and he gave an absolutely brilliant talk. I’ve since read a few of his New Yorker articles and I love his style. I’ve been looking forward to sitting down with his book for a long while now.

What three writers would you invite to a dinner party?

Usually I’m more interested in a writer’s creations than the authors themselves (real people tend to disappoint), but there is one writer I could listen to talk about both their books and their life for dinner, dessert, and drinks after: R. F. Kuang, author of The Poppy War series and Babel. Her ability to churn out one fantastic book after another while simultaneously completing degrees at places like Oxford and Cambridge is a mystery to me. I’d love to have her talk my ear off for an evening.

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