Notes from Rebekah: The life of a manager.
You're in for a treat! Today, resident reader and shop manager Rebekah takes over the blog with her thoughts on achieving a dream come true: working in a bookstore. You'll love her insight and perspective as much as I do. -Annie
I have always been an avid reader. As a child you could often find me with my nose in a book, completely oblivious to the world around me. I’d even go so far as to combine reading with other activities to get as much time in between the pages as I could. Leaving the house without a book in my hands was simply not an option. I distinctly remember being at Ruby Tuesday’s waiting for our food, and reading By the Shores of Silver Lake, the fifth Laura Ingalls Wilder book. I cried at the table when their family dog, Jack, died in his sleep.
To this day, nothing moves me quite like a good read. Even the ones I don’t terribly care for, the mundane and underwhelming reads that never quite reach their full potential, leave some sort of impression. It’s impossible to read without engaging the material. You bring a piece of yourself to every word you absorb, filtering and weighing it according to the scales of your likes and dislikes, your past experiences and future hopes. I have never met a passive reader.
Even with my avid love of literature, I never imagined I would one day have the privilege of taking my place among the shelves as manager of an independent bookstore. I also had no idea how many aspects of the occupation have nothing to do with books! (Magazines are the worst. Still the written word, I know, but we return all the old issues through a process that can only be described as death-by-tedium. I won’t go into the gory details but it involves numbers and decimals and endlessly tapping away on a calculator.)
One of these non-book-related aspects is a phenomenon I like to refer to as “The Cupcake Conundrum.” It’s the look of confused disappointment when a customer walks in expecting to be greeted by colorful confections under shiny glass domes only to be informed that Lucy & Leo’s -- a delicious cupcakery based in nearby Tallahassee, Florida -- is no longer with us in the store. (The Cupcake Conundrum can also be found over the phone in the form of heavy sighs and deflated vocal patterns.) More often than not, however, their bereavement is eased -- thank goodness -- by the beautiful and tantalizing creations that Marie’s Kakes now provides. (Her lemon cookies are out of this world.)
There are many things I love about this job, easy access to delicious baked goods not the least of them. Being familiar with the pulse of the literary world and finding just the right book at just the right time brings quite the sense of satisfaction. My favorite moments by far however, are when I get to pass on a beloved childhood read. It sounds cliched, but books mold who we are and how we think. They either introduce us to something new, or hold up a mirror through which we see ourselves more clearly. This is especially and uniquely true for the childhood years as we are still being shaped and formed into who we will be. We have less experiences to bring to the book, so the book brings more to us.
Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but I feel somehow a part of that process, a distant participant, when I have the privilege of sharing a meaningful read with a child. In some small way, my life has touched another’s. And beyond any romantic notions about the life-altering powers of a book, I’ve simply been able to provide someone with a few hours of quality entertainment. That shared point of connection makes my day, every single time.