Super Heroes at the Bookstore

Josie Leavitt - March 28, 2016

There are days at the store where I think all of us on staff feel like super heroes. People come in with needs all the time. Usually it’s help with books they’re desperate to read whose title they just cannot remember, or needing assistance for that perfect present or, as was the case last weekend, book report help. Maybe it doesn’t seem like helping someone with a book title merits super hero status, but I think it does.
Books mean so much to people and I see frustration every day when someone can’t find the book they’re looking for because they don’t remember it. Customers are often sheepish about not knowing the title. Please let that go. Something happens from the car to the front door of the store that causes adult memory to fail. We are used to it and we are fairly proficient at determining what book you’re looking for because in all likelihood, we just helped someone else find it. I love being able to get these books for customers. There is something wonderful in being able to hand someone a book with a flourish and say, “Is this the one you were looking for?” and have that person break into a smile and gently hug the book.
When kids call the store I can often tell who is panicking about needing a book for a school report. There is often a high-pitched desperation to their question of is a certain book in. These calls often happen on the weekend. The specificity of requests often gives away the need for the book. “Do you have any biographies on primatologists?” That one has “book report due on Monday” written all over it. The other big tip off is getting several of these calls a day, Last weekend it got to the point where just about every other call was a desperate seventh-grader seeking a biography of a scientist.
I like to help kids out when they’re up against a self-inflicted deadline. I remember being in seventh grade and spending far too much time on Sunday nights trying to finish something for Monday morning. Last Sunday afternooon a very earnest and sweet boy came in looking for, guess what, biographies of scientists. The only book I had left was Primates, the graphic novel. I asked who his teacher was and I know her and said that there was no way she’d accept a graphic novel as the book report. The poor kid just kept sighing and running his hand anxiously through his hair.
Then I had a brilliant idea. A local veterinarian had written a short memoir about his life as a small town vet who specialized in exotic animals. The book was only 150 pages long and was definitely one that would pass muster from the teacher. I handed it to the kid with a flourish and his eyes lit up. I had clearly saved the day. He profusely thanked me until his family left the store. Honestly, I couldn’t stop smiling. I was proud of myself for thinking of that book for the boy and happier still that we had some in stock. I do love that moment when I have a flash of an idea and then it all materializes.
And the beauty of bookstore life is you can save the be a hero every day, and that’s a pretty great way to live.

1 thought on “Super Heroes at the Bookstore

  1. Carol B. Chittenden

    I know the Flying Pig logo has wings. But maybe you should add a cape? It would be a cape of many colors, of course.


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