Last week, one of my very favorite booksellers left one of my very favorite bookstores to take a job in corporate publishing in New York City. Now, I couldn’t blame her, of course. It was a great opportunity and she will be great at it.
But it’s sad to think that next time I go there, there is little or no chance that she will be there. I only go there once or twice a year (it’s in Milwaukee, a five-hour drive), but still, it’s nice to have a friendly face waiting on the other end, someone with whom you have more in common than the books (though often, the books are enough). Still, there are others there that I know I can talk to, and they miss her as well. So we’ll have that in common.
I am lucky, though. I have many bookstores in my town, and they are filled (to the brim) with wonderful, interesting, friendly, wise booksellers. There are several that I visit many times each year, and a few that I only get to once a year or so. And believe it or not, there are a few that I have never visited. Maybe that’s a mission for the new year.
Because each time I step into a bookstore, I feel like I’m home. I walk right up to the least busy clerk and start a conversation. It doesn’t take long to find someone with whom I can feel an affinity. And often, that is borne out when I look over the Staff Picks, and find that person loves the same books that I do. Sometimes, I know, they are busy and I have to rein in my enthusiasm and let them work. But then I get to wander the shelves. Which is just about as good.
There is nothing like a lovely little bookstore. If you have one near you, stop in. Especially this time of year, you are likely to be able to strike up a wonderful conversation with someone who is well-read, curious, and enthusiastic about books. Don’t feel obligated to buy something (but if you can, please do). Stop in often and look around. Chat with the employees. Sign up for their newsletter.
I guarantee that you, as a writer, will form a mutually beneficial relationship with your new bookseller friend, should you make the effort. It’s not too cold. Get on out there and try.