From The Care and Feeding of an Independent Bookstore by Ann Patchett:
“No one told me how good it would feel to put our books into the hands of strangers and see their faces light up with a sense of connection. I feel like a revival preacher who has finally pitched her own tent. Come gather round and I will tell you what to read.”
This joy of putting the books in the hands of people is exactly why I love my job. Ann has discovered that the independent bookstore is a wonderful “community of book lovers” and “the presence of actual physical books….demands our attention” And so it is true! I feel a real sense of reverence and quiet joy when I walk through her store browsing through the staff picks, listening to my grandson squeal with joy as the shop dog runs, watching my grown children carefully pick books they know I will happily buy for them, discussing how some books demand different times and places for reading with River who takes my (hefty but happy) payment.
I also know how Ann feels when a parent needs to be reassured that they children will become readers if they let them read Captain Underpants.
I have these same connections, Ann, this same joy every day in my public school elementary library. We share this passion for reading and cannot wait for others to discover this passion as well.
Funny though, isn’t it, that I envy the successful writing life of Ann Patchett. I have not given up on my desire to be a writer (see, see, words on this page! Not just in my mind!), but I take great delight in knowing that she has discovered the very thing I have loved all these years as a school librarian. I am not a successful literary author or owner of a lovely independent bookstore, but this shared joy of putting books in the hands of others rather exalts my humble profession, don’t you think?