Today I went to work on the retail floor at Book Passage in Marin. I did it last year for several days during the Christmas season. And I’m excited about doing it again. I spent 35 years in retail. My favorite job was recommending books to my customers. And when I took the time to do that, I got an amazing sense of what book lovers care about. I also had a chance to express my passion for my favorite titles and to try to share that passion with others. When customers came back and thanked me for a book I recommended, I felt pretty good. It made everything else worthwhile. Now that I’m a literary agent, sometimes I feel out of touch with the people who are really the heart and soul of the book world… the book lovers. I think everyone in the book business ought to spend a few days helping customers in book stores. We could all learn a lot by doing it.
But that isn’t what this blog post is about. I wanted to share a very weird bookstore moment with you. It happened today at Book Passage. One of the nice things about working on the floor is that I see books that grab my attention and I sort of thumb through them. So anyway, I’m standing in the history section. I read a lot of history. I studied German history in graduate school. So I picked up this 1000 page brick of a book. Heinrich Himmler: A Life by Peter Longerich. It’s published by Oxford University Press. It is an important work of scholarship about a figure in history for whom most people have very little sentimental attachment. One of the Book Passage employees came up to me and asked me if I was holding Curious George. I can only assume that the holiday frenzy had disturbed his mental equilibrium.
Well, gentle readers. I suppose I would like to say that whether you intend to put Curious George under the tree this holiday season, or perhaps Heinrich Himmler: A Life, I hope you have a very happy and peaceful holiday and get all the books you want on Christmas day.