On Bookstores, Books, and the Number 33
“Hey, Emily! Can I have permission to read your book?”
These words reached me as I snatched two glasses from the bright blue rack and clunked them into one hand, fingers searching for the ice scoop. Table 5 wanted waters.
Wait, book? What book?
My hand paused halfway to the scoop, and I can only imagine that my jaw went a bit slack as I stared at Kevin, who slid a tray toward the edge of the stainless steel counter next to me. Table 5 forgotten for the moment, I shuffled the glasses in my left hand.
“Huh?” I communicate my befuddlement with charm and elegance, I know.
“Your book. Ashton said it’s amazing, and she won’t stop talking about it. I want to read it.”
I’m a bit surprised that I didn’t drop the glasses at that point. Instead I began to fill them as I fumbled through the words that decided to trip out of my mouth. “Um, yeah! Ashton? Book…you like it? Book.” I think I said something like that.
Ashton, who happened to be standing with her back to the ice tea machine at that moment, looked over. “Are you kidding? I love your voice! It’s amazing!”
I’m going to stop right there with my re-telling of the scene that blindsided me smack in the middle of last night’s dinner rush. Suffice it to say that I almost piddled from excitement like a cocker spaniel greeting visitors at the door.
Aren’t you glad I didn’t choose to illustrate that with a picture of a yellow puddle?
Regardless, imagine my surprise when I discovered that the book Kevin wanted permission to read was, in fact, mine. And not one of the hundreds I own. A book I wrote. Ye gods.
At the end of working nearly 24 hours in a 30 hour period, I daresay that was a nice little gem to discover. I told Ashton to email it to him, thanked her for asking permission, and then glowed enough to turn table 5’s waters radioactive as I trundled back to my section.
Today, I found myself having a productive morning. I went to Target to pick up stuff to make goody bags for the winners of my little NaNoRebel Challenge, and I felt the urge to visit the nearby Barnes and Noble.
I love bookstores. I always have. Anywhere a lot of books gather creates a space that draws me. I always fancy I can hear their voices, the sounds of the characters in the millions of pages that surround me. I love seeing them lined up on shelves, piled everywhere, and the immediate kinship I feel with the others browsing around. Readers. Book-lovers.
There is a scene in The Book Thief where Liesel Meminger discovers the library at the mayor’s house, where she is quite undone by the beauty and awe of seeing so many books in one place. I remember I teared up at that scene, because it reminded me of the first time I ever set foot in Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, Oregon. I was probably around eight, but the sheer scope of a bookstore that encompassed an entire city block downtown boggled my young mind. I would have moved in if my mother had let me.
Emmie Fun Fact: One of my dreams? To be an appearing author at that store. In the section that once housed the Baby-Sitter’s Club books.
Anyway, I ventured into B&N on a bit of a mission. I wanted to check out the shelves of my genre, see what they had to say for themselves.
I got sidetracked when I discovered that there is suddenly an entire section — about three full bays — of Teen Paranormal Romance. Again, I say ye gods.
The next thing I noticed was the covers.
Books today look so different than they did a few years ago! It’s amazing to me how dramatic, how full of shadow and beautiful graphic design they are. You can’t do much to make a book stand out among those works of art.
When you think of some of the other books that have been splashing around the bestseller lists like page-filled Moby Dicks, they also seem to have gone for the “less is more” approach. I like it. Hunger Games, Game of Thrones — all pretty low-key.
That little research trip culminated in hearing an employee get in trouble for telling me what she really thought about James Patterson’s prolific, genre-spanning books (not much) and having her recommend a few new books/series for me. (A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin and Sunshine by Robin McKinley, if you’re wondering.)
So what did I discover? That books are alive and well, thank god. That I want my books on those shelves. (I already knew that.) That I don’t want them to die out. I’ve had this feeling for a while, and I know it will get the backs up on a lot of die-hard e-book champions out there, but I just don’t hear the voices on an e-reader the way I do surrounded by the smell of paper and bindings and shelves. All those voices blend together into the hum of electricity, and that can be cut off with a splash of water in the wrong place. All the voices silenced too easily for me. The bottom line for me is that books are books — I love to know people are reading, whichever medium they choose to facilitate the process. But for me, it will always be covers and bindings and pages of words. Full shelves and heavy boxes every time I move. One day I’ll create a room full of them in my own home, and mine will be right up there with the rest of them.
Finally, a note on the number 33 that wormed its way into the title of this post. I’ve always quite liked the number 3, and two of them together looks mighty fine. 33 is the number of subscribers to this little blog, and I wanted to take a moment to humbly thank each of you for agreeing to let me spam you once a day with my ramblings. You are utterly appreciated, and in my mind you are all kittens with halos.
Posted on December 5, 2011, in life intervention, primeval and tagged babysitters club, barnes and noble, books, bookstores, emmie mears, fiction, powells bookstore, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.