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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Catching up with Courtney McCarroll, Assistant Editor in Psychology

Every so often, we catch up with someone in our offices to learn more about life in publishing, from how editors cultivate a list to how each office’s coffee brews compare. This week, we’re concerned with matters of the mind and a member of our editorial team. Courtney McCarroll is an Assistant Editor in Psychology, and recently celebrated her one-year anniversary of working at Oxford University Press.

What publication do you read regularly to stay up to date on industry news?

My favorite way to keep up with what’s going on in publishing is listening to the weekly Book Riot Podcast. The hosts, Rebecca Schinsky and Jeff O’Neal, talk about everything from diversifying the industry, to print versus e-book sales, to Harlequin launching a wine label (weird, but also kind of awesome), to what’s currently on the president’s TBR pile.

Who inspires you most in the publishing industry and why?

Technically, she’s not in publishing, but she’s definitely knee-deep in the industry. My former boss from the independent bookstore I used to work at inspires me most. Kirsten is the kindest, most hard-working person I’ve ever met and when she decided to follow her dreams and open up a children’s bookstore (Let’s Play Books in Emmaus, PA) all on her own, I knew that I had to follow my own and pursue a career as an editor. Her store has been in business for almost two years now, and it’s already an enormous success in her community. She’s very special to me, but to see how special she is to so many other people now is just the coolest.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your first year on the job?

Keep the kitchen clean. Kidding! (Kind of.)

Courtney McCarroll. Photo used with permission.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found about working at OUP?

The people I work with at Oxford are some of the kindest, smartest, most generous people I’ve ever met. My managers (former and current), especially, are so talented, and so dedicated to their jobs that I’m just constantly in awe of them. I learn something new from them every day.

What’s the most enjoyable part of your day?

After grabbing my second enormous iced coffee of the day, downloading a podcast and prepping an author’s manuscript for our production team is actually really relaxing for me.

What’s the least enjoyable part of your day?

My commute to work is pretty horrible, I have to say. I commute on Metro-North from New Haven, CT (four hours round trip) every day. Don’t ask me how I do it. I get in a tom of reading though, at least.

What is the strangest thing currently on your desk?

My Puppies & Friends daily desktop calendar gives me life. My colleague and I have actually started taping the little photos across our cubes as pick-me-up banners for whenever we need a little cheering up. We’re professional adults, I swear.

Puppies and Friends. Photo used with permission.
Puppies and Friends. Photo used with permission.

What is your favorite animal?

I’m pretty convinced that my cat, Chowder, is half-cat, half-alien. One of my best friends (who used to work at OUP) and I are obsessed with his every movement to the point that my Instagram account is comprised of 90% Chowder, 10% what I’m reading that week. It’s bad.

What is in your desk drawer?

Monster Trail Mix (I tell myself it’s healthy because… raisins), Mad Men tarot cards my colleague bought me for my birthday that I still need to hang up somewhere in my cube, 20 billion stacks of post-its, and Harney & Sons cinnamon tea that tastes like liquid fireball candy.

If you didn’t work in publishing, what would you be doing?

I would’ve definitely stuck with journalism in college. If it weren’t for books, investigative journalism is a career path that will always tempt me in some way.

What are you reading right now?

Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow.

Open the book you’re currently reading and turn to page 75. Tell us the title of the book, and the third sentence on that page.

“Then I saw your mother watching me with pure apprehension and I realized what a foolish thing to do that was.” – Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

What is the longest book you’ve ever read?

Honestly, I’m not that big a fan of long (400+ pages) books. I figure that, in the span of time it takes me to read one, I could’ve read two or three others. That said, I finished Hanya Yanigahara’s A Little Life this summer and please believe me when I tell you I’m still ugly-crying about it.

What’s your favourite book?

When I’m not devouring non-fiction, deeply meditative and slightly sinister stories are my bread and butter. Surprise surprise: Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is my absolute favorite book.

What is your favorite word?

Brobdingnagian. Come on!

What is your most obscure talent or hobby?

This hardly counts—because hello it’s publishing, we’re all readers—but I’m pretty voracious about reading. If I don’t read at least one book a week, I get supremely antsy and annoying. Ask my boyfriend, he’ll tell you.

What will you be doing once you’ve completed this Q&A?

The cover design just came back for one of our trade catalog books (The Divine Madness of Philip K. Dick), and it’s amazing. Lucas, the designer, did such an incredible job capturing the stark sci-fi element and I can’t wait to show the author.

Headline Image: Open book. CCO via Pixabay.

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