Yesterday, I got an email from a lovely young man, Jeff, who had been a customer of ours until he moved to NYC after college two years ago. Jeff had been been shopping at our store more than a decade before his move. He and I even wound up taking Chinese at the same time at the University of Vermont. I suspected, like most young folks who move to the big city, that we’d only really see him on the few occasions he was home visiting his folks and happened by the bookstore.
We’ve always made good book recommendations to Jeff, and his mother usually lets me know how he’s liked a book. His email yesterday was for book ideas to make the subway to work easier “…need to get immersed to distract me from the terribleness that is the nyc subway. I can’t thank you enough for all the good books over the years.” I need to point out that he’s only 23. What a lovely note to get. He had just finished and loved Lev Grossman’s The Magicians (recommended by Elizabeth when he was in town over Labor Day) saying, “Magic College is for real.” I adore this kid. I emailed back with suggestions.
I really thought about what a young guy starting out would want to read while on the subway. Having lived in New York and commuted on the subway myself, I thought for a while about what to suggest to him.
Clearly, he liked magic and fantasy. I mentioned there was a sequel, The Magician King. I also thought he would enjoy The Passage, Discovery of Witches and Brooklyn Follies. That’s all I wrote back because I didn’t want to overwhelm him with choices, as I can do sometimes. He wrote back almost immediately — clearly, the book need was strong — and said he was going to space out reading the sequel and venture to something new. He’d already read The Passage and The Twelve. He liked the sound of the two other books and said he would order them.
My heart sank reading that last line. I just assumed he meant he would order from Amazon. He didn’t. Twenty minutes later (clearly Jeff was having a slow day at work) an order for Discovery of Witches and Brooklyn Follies came in on our website. I fulfilled the order and shipped it out today. I was so touched that this young guy living in New York, with access to a myriad of bookstores and on-line sources, chooses to stay in contact with his childhood store for his books. It reminded me that making a personal connection with someone over a shared love of books and the joy of reading can be a very lasting one.
And, Jeff has already let me know he’ll be home for Christmas and is in need of more books.