I’d like to get a ruling from the internet.
I love bookstores. I won’t bore you with the details, but I have been in Brookline Booksmith 4 out of the last 7 days. I only walked out with a book once – a bizarre 1952 sci-fi novel called City that I’m going to have to write about later.
I know that independent bookstores need money and patronage. I try to provide both.
Yesterday, I walked into Brookline Booksmith fresh after starting and really enjoying Dead End in Norvelt, and reading the brackets of the School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books. There was a time in my life when I was a middle reader fanatic. I gobbled Hilary McKay novels like they were penny candy, shouted Paul Fleischman’s name and credentials to anyone who would listen, pressed Stargirl and When You Reach Me into protesting hands.
And then… I moved away from Santa Cruz and Gay, the Children’s Book Guru at Bookshop Santa Cruz, and then I read Infinite Jest, which seems like a non sequitur unless you’ve read Infinite Jest. And now… well, now I’m ready for middle reader books again, but it’s impossible without a guide.
This is a roundabout way of saying I went in to Booksmith and asked for a recommendation. In fact, I asked for “an update.” I asked for a children’s book buyer and a cute, tall girl with short hair pointed me towards a shorter, fast-talking girl with black hair, who loaded my arms with books.I tried not to be show-offy as she pulled Brian Selznick and Gary Schmidt – I wanted to be told the new and unexpected. She recommended Inside Out and Back Again, and Breadcrumbs. I looked through them, I let a Dad and his daughter take them from me and then I left. I walked out without buying anything, and then I added Breadcrumbs to my Holds list at Boston Public Library.
I feel bad about this. The book recommender, whose name I didn’t ask, was excellent. I’m excited to read the book she recommended me. I wanted to slip a couple dollars into her hand, like she was a white-gloved doorman who had called me a cab. A really great cab, that was going to take me to a re-imagined Hans Christian Anderson world.
I don’t feel terrible. I am not Hamlet-ing around. I just want someone to to pat me on the head, tell me it’s all right, maybe hand me another coffee, and say that libraries need as much patronage as bookstores, and to not worry, because I’ll surely buy something from Booksmith soon.
Can someone do that for me?