10 Questions: Life’s an open book for La Jolla Library chief Shaun Briley


Shaun Briley has seen the book business from all sides: published author, retailer, marketing rep for a publishing company and finally librarian. Briley started his career as a journalist working for a British conglomerate that sent him to the Persian Gulf to cover the war against Iraq. Later, he wrote a book titled “How Not to Live Abroad,” about living in Spain, which was likened to “Under a Tuscan Sun” or “Year in Provence” – gone wrong. The experience ultimately drove him to the sunny climes of California where he has finally laid down roots. A resident of La Jolla, he took the post of branch manager on the retirement of former librarian, Catherine Greene.

What brought you to La Jolla?

I had my first date with my future wife here (she is an attorney who has lived in or around La Jolla for a decade). After pestering her to go out with me she finally told me to meet her at Pannikin one evening. When I showed up at the appointed time, I discovered that the café had been closed for hours and the street was deserted. Naturally, I was convinced the whole thing was her way of standing me up. Needless to say, she didn’t, and I have been in love with the place ever since.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

I would get rid of May gray and June gloom. Growing up in England, I had enough of that stuff to last me a lifetime.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, John Cleese, Stephen Fry, Woody Allen, George Burns, and potty- mouthed celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay to cuss at everyone while he cooks the dinner.

What are you reading?

“In the Light of What We Know,” by Zia Haider Rahman.

What do you most dislike?

Did I mention May gray and June gloom? It’s a tie between that and people who love to sing their own praises.

What do you do for fun?

I have a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old and another one coming in about a month. Fun for me would be watching any movie not made by Disney or getting eight hours of sleep.

What would be your dream vacation?

Right now, I would settle for any vacation or indeed any dream (see above). How about a sailing trip in the Caribbean?

What clothing item in your closet will you never part with?

There are a couple of toddler outfits belonging to my kids that would have to be pulled from my dying grip.

What are your favorite comfort foods?

Is rum allowed? Chocolate ice cream with big chunks of real chocolate in it.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

After 30 years searching without success, you expect me to come up with one on the spot? How about “There is always time for the things you put first.”