I don’t know that I’ve spoken about it specifically, but I’ve been working at a bookstore for the last five months. When people find out there’s usually one of two responses; either, “that’s the best job, you’re surrounded by books all day!” or “retail is the worst, what do you plan on doing in the future?”
In all honesty, so long as I keep writing in my spare time, I could work in a bookstore the rest of my life and be perfectly happy. Not only do I get to see new releases when they become available and have access to books weeks, months before they’re published, I get to introduce the books I love to others. I will never underestimate the power of recommending a book to someone and having them come back in a week or two and telling me how much they loved it. I think words can change the world.
Perhaps working in a bookstore is the ‘prettier’ side of retail. I’ve had the odd rude customer, but nothing that makes me want to quit. The amount of people who are kind and take an extra few minutes to have a chat or say something encouraging make it worth it, anyway. People surprise me; someone will come in looking grumpy but the moment you say hello their face changes and they’re beaming at you and telling you to have a great afternoon, and they actually mean it.
You can always tell when they mean it.
I’ve also never been particularly career driven. I’ve been… ambitious, I suppose, regarding writing, though ambitious feels like a strong word I wouldn’t really apply to myself. But it is a dream I’m constantly working towards, whether that’s in my study or posting on Instagram or just writing in general. Constantly working on big or little projects, no matter if they end up anywhere.
Or reading about writing; I actually recently bought a book about Russian short stories and the lessons we can learn from them, which I’m excited to crack open. (Instead of reading my books for uni.) So it isn’t like I’m putting off some big career by working in a bookstore. I mean, even if I ever did become a published author I wouldn’t make nearly enough money to live off, unless I was Stephen King. Could I do that, just become him? Imagine that.
But I’m not here for the money. I’m not here to be famous (that makes me feel a little vomity actually). I’m here because I love to write and I love to read and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with finding happiness in a bookstore.
Some of my biggest lessons have been learned in a bookstore.
As I said earlier, I’ve seen the mistake in taking people at face value. I’ve seen the power of being kind to someone who hasn’t given you much to work with. I’ve seen the joy in discovering a book that feels as though it’s written for you; both in myself and in others. I’ve learned how to make small talk not quite so exhausting (though the drive home is a necessary silence after working 9-5 with constant chatter). I’ve learned that a book can promise you happiness and disappoint you, and I’ve learned unsuspecting books can contain gold.
I’ve learned that God is in every job, no matter where you are, He is moving, especially if you invite Him into that space. Prayer before work makes a difference I can’t ignore.
I’ve learned that many people turn to books for comfort, both in healthy ways and unhealthy ones, though I have no right to judge anyone. I’ve learned that a dedication can tell you more about the author than their bio. I understand I will probably die halfway through a book, which disturbs me now but I suppose I won’t be concerned with it at the time. I suppose. (Do you think I can ask God how it ends, though?)
Happy book finding,