There are a lot of things I love about working in a bookstore. (Okay, really, I love everything. I don’t even mind the uncertainty of it, with the publishing industry the way it is, because at least if I’m going to go down I’m going to go down doing something I love.)
But there are definitely moments I adore above all of the rest — two of which have happened very recently, and one of them today. :)
One is the moment where you see a copy of a book that you already read and loved as an advance copy finally sitting out on a shelf, ready for others to find and fall in love with in their turn.
The second is that moment where you discover a shiny new advance copy — of a book that you’ve been waiting and waiting for months (if not years) to read. And knowing that not only is your wait over, your wait was even cut short.
We’re going to talk about two very different books, now.
Scenario A, here, revolves around Lauren DeStefano’s book Wither. Admittedly, I don’t read much YA these days — I do enjoy it when it’s done well, but I’m particular and, as a result, reluctant to just try my luck with random examples. I’ll dive into YA if I’m already familiar with the author (Neil Gaiman and Kelley Armstrong come to mind) or if the book is personally recommended to me by a trusted friend, but that’s generally as far as it goes.
However, I’m happy to admit it. I’m one of those people.
I judge books based off their covers.
Not solely, of course (Twilight, I am looking at you), but it can help to push me over the edge in my bookslutting decisions. I love books — the physical objects — almost as much as I love stories, so I have no problem separating an actual book from its content and viewing it just as an art piece. Ergo, even if the tale just drives me up the proverbial wall, I’ll still have something beautiful to display in my library.
The world needs all the beautiful things it can get, these days.
Enter an advance copy of Wither.
I glanced at it and almost instantaneously dismissed it as untested YA — and then I actually looked at it. And I fell a little bit in love.
Go to your local bookstore. Pick it up. Flip through the pages. (Look at the beautiful typography in the beginning, showcasing a quote from T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”, and hopefully smile just as hard as I did. Maybe it’s one of your favourite poems, too.)
The book’s designer, Lizzy Bromley, is something of a genius, if you ask me.
Needless to say, I stopped worrying about the book’s content and just very happily took it home. Words are an art form all their own, after all, and they can inspire me in and of themselves even if the sentences they form do not.
But, as it turned out, the sentences did inspire me, and the story snared me much like its house. It’s a glitterdark sort of tale — showcasing that sort of debris and grit that serves to reflect shine, a not-so-hidden weakness of mine.
I won’t outline the actual content here. I’d much rather you see the story’s summary on the back of the book itself, because even if it’s not typically your cup of tea, hopefully the typography at least will impress you.
But the point is, it’s both beautiful and actually deserving of its design. That can be a damned hard thing to find.
And that said, onwards to Scenario B! This one centres on a man named Will Lavender, and one of the hardest fucks my brain has ever had.
In February of 2009, I picked up a book called Obedience. I devoured it, and, upon reaching its end, was promptly depressed.
Not only because the book was over, but because I knew that, for all that it was only February, I had already just torn through the best damn book I would read all that year.
(I wasn’t wrong — though Stephen King’s The Dark Tower could tie with damn near anything, if you ask me — and neither was I complaining.)
I discovered, afterwards, that Will Lavender was working on a second novel, called Dominance. And my general reaction was roughly along the lines of “yesnowgodmoreplease” like the good little bookslut that I am.
I tried wanting harder, as though that might help.
And, finally, today.
I came across the advance copy of Dominance, waiting just for me. ♥
Books have a magic all their own, and it’s moments like these that remind me of why.
(And, if you were wondering, my other favourite moment working with books? When someone comes up to me to purchase a copy of Good Omens, and I get to beam ridiculously at them as I excitedly announce that it is my favourite book forever and ever. Every single time. ♥)