Well, here it is, 6 am and I’m at my writing practice. I’m on my second cup of coffee and am nursing paper cuts from book jackets. I wonder who I’ll shelve today? I hope I get the fiction section. I feel like I’m among friends there.
I started a new book last night, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I had originally passed over because I thought it was a knock-off of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, or the flying sweet potato pants or whatever that Ya-Ya like series was. But two adorable older women were in the book store the other day, obviously tight, spunky literary friends, and they asked for recommendations. I suggested Elegance of the Hedgehog, and they erupted into, “See, I told you!” and “Okay, okay, I guess I need to read it.” The one who had already read Elegance was now my best friend for life and told me that because of my fine taste in new reading, she couldn’t wait to see what I could give her. I started her off with Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, The Weird Sisters, and A Reliable Wife, and she and her friend hunched over the synopses on the back cover, tracing words with their fingers like a mother does when she read to her child.
The two had come into the store to buy The Guernsey Literary Society book, and when I asked about it, they just gushed. It is absolutely not a Ya-Ya knockoff, and is in fact about a post-WWII literary society on a small island that had been occupied by Germany. The society was born of a secret pig roast (the islanders were not allowed to keep pigs – the Germans commandeered all the swine) and the lie of a book discussion a member told to German soldiers when they were caught out after curfew. There is a truth in the lie, though, in that apparently the members of this small island group do love literature and have lively discussions about it as they continue to meet. That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far, but I’ve already come across a line that delights me, and that I (and all my fellow booksellers) can absolutely I identify with:
“Booksellers really are a special breed. No one in their right mind would take up clerking in a bookstore for the salary… So, it has to be a love of readers and reading that makes them do it – along with first dibs on the new books.”
Yep, that pretty much sums it up. All my life I have flitted from one interest to another, taking up hobbies or studies then casting them aside – ecology (my degree), quilting, knitting, soapmaking. Nothing ever seems to stick. Except literature. My earliest memories are of reading books, laying on my bed with my feet on the wall. I remember palm trees scraping my windows at night when I read Salem’s Lot, and how that screeching on the glass terrified me. I remember reading and re-reading The Secret Garden, and how Shel Silverstein was my go-to when I didn’t have a novel to read. My earliest desire was to one day have a house with a bay window with a bench so that I could sit in the window and read. That hasn’t happened, but I’ve still got a lot of life, and a lot of reading left in me. Maybe it will yet.