Usually, on Mondays, I like to show-and-tell about our weekend. This weekend, however, I spent in my local indie bookstore, The Green Toad.
I've worked at the Toad for, um, maybe three years. During the academic year, when I'm busy with my "real" job, I only work 3-ish hours per week. In the summers, though, I'm there a lot more, what with having more time, other employees needing more time off, and wanting to get away from my summer vacationing kids. This weekend was a full one -- and I'll be back behind the counter tonight.
The extra cash is nice, don't get me wrong. That's not why I work there, though. I just love bookstores. Really, really. I've worked in them intermittently since I was 16: first a Waldenbooks* in Ross Park Mall, then a college bookstore in Austin,** and now the Toad.***
The most obvious reason I love bookstores is that I love books. That is a given. I like to hang out with all of the books, both the ones I love and force on every person who asks for a recommendation**** and the ones that I would just as soon mock but still firmly believe you have the right to read.***** I've handsold a lot of books this way and hope to continue doing it.
(True story: an older woman comes in nearly every Saturday and asks for something light, set in Europe, and without any deaths because her husband just died after many years of suffering from Alzheimer's. I'm running out of ideas. We've covered the most obvious titles, like Beautiful Ruins. Most of what I suggested lately has been too "weird" for her. Anyone?)
After so many years, I've developed an uncanny ability to remember authors and titles as well as their shelf placement and cover colors. Nine times out of ten, if you mention a title, I can tell you if we have it -- without consulting the computer. Yet in my non-bookstore life, I can barely recall the names of my children or where I put the phone.
But what I love most about bookstores are the people who frequent them. No one ever has to buy books. They aren't like groceries or gas. Nearly everyone who shops at the Toad is there by choice -- and their happiness about all of the books can't help but rub off.
** Also RIP -- and Wallace's University Bookstore is so dead that I can't even find a decent link online.
*** Hoping I'm not the kiss of death.
**** Depends on the person, really. Still I don't think you can go wrong with Jincy Willett, Karen Joy Fowler, or Bill Bryson.
***** Bill O'Reilly and Dick Cheney's tomes leap to mind, to say nothing of the Shades of Grey.