So guys, I’ll get right to the point and tell ya’ll you can totally have a super-cool, kickass summer even if you’re not travelling for vacations. I mean it’s super sad when all your friends have flown out and you’re left grappling with boredom, right? But my friends, that’s when bookstores in towns come to help!!!
Naa-ah not for book-buying or reading, but for doing a summer internship! Yupp, that’s right. I did a summer internship at every book-lover’s favorite place, Liberty Books! (For my Pakistani readers) I mean, who wouldn’t love to do that, man. In terms of retail jobs, I’m pretty sure everyone can see the immediate appeal: literary conversations, smart, relaxed customers, being surrounded with books! After spending hours amongst shelves full of Hemingway’s and Bronte’s and Murakami’s and Orhan Pamuks, I used to forget all about the throbbing pain in my head from the air-conditioning or the aching pain in my heels for standing all day long. Because who wouldn’t, after coming out of a literary bliss! So I’m just going to highlight a few tips that I would like to share with ya’ll:
1. The majority of your coworkers will be older than you if you are a teenager. I am the youngest person employed at my store.
Despite the age-factor, I never felt like I was a teenager around them. Tip 101: Try engaging in conversations with each one of them according to their preferences. If someone likes politics, talk corruption and government with them. If someone likes food, talk about different cuisines or even pick a random book about food from the shelf and discuss that. Remember, your coworkers contribute to 65% of your work experience so always remember to be nice and polite with them. There will always be something to learn from someone or the other. (Trust me, I’ve never talked politics more than I did during this month lol)
2. Always, always interact with your customers
I can’t stress enough on this one. The customers you get in a bookstore are less of customers and more like your “where-have-you-been-all-my-life” soul-mates who share the same obsession with books you do and will give anything and everything just to have literary discussions with you. I met people of all ages and types: teenagers who loved John Green and gained my immediate dislike (if you’re reading this and love John Green, I’m sure you were the one I liked), die-hard Harry Potter fans, successfully working businessmen who recommended me all kinds of interesting autobiographies and history books to read, people who wanted to buy books as birthday presents etc. The feeling of accomplishment you get after spending quite some time searching for the perfect book as a birthday present, or recommending and in evidently, making the customers buy your favourite book is a heavenly bliss! (I hope all of you who bought The Nightingale, Orphan Monster Spy, It Ends With Us and the Naughtiest Girl series are sending me love and prayers lol!)
THOSE NUMEROUS CUTE KIDS THAT COME EVERYDAY TO LOOK FOR ROALD DAHL AND WIMPY KID BOOKS! Aaaah, those were my favourite moments of the day. They always brought smile to my faces while choosing books which were “thick because it meant they would finish late” or books “without pictures because they didn’t want people to think they are still kids”. HAHAHA. If that’s not adorable, I don’t know what is!
This one 8-year old boy came up look for James and The Giant Peach but since it was unavailable at that time, he gave each one of us his mother’s contact number to call him immediately if the book came in. Needless to say, he called every morning for a week to ask about the book! Hahaha cutest boy ever.
(Just a little heads-up: Never laugh about a kid being cute in front of them no matter how adorable you think they are. They will feel humiliated and embarrassed and will probably end up thinking they said something stupid)
4. You don’t get to read while you’re working!
If you think you’ll work and read simultaneously, haha you’re in for a ride! That almost never happens except early in the day when the store opens. Be ready for bustling customers all day long!!
5. Read HARRY POTTER!
Trust me on this one. If you tell one of the customers that you’ve never read harry Potter, they will immediately give you a “why do you even exist, and why are you working here” look. Fortunately for me, I started reading the series two weeks before my work at the bookstore, so by the time I began working, I was half-way through the Prisoner of Azkaban. Which by the way, was amazing as hell, because the conversations that you have with HP fans will beat book-club meetings any day!!! (extra brownie points if you show them the Jim Kay illustrated versions :p)
6. Make sure you are well-read.
You’re most definitely going to enjoy those mind-gobbling-customers only if you are well-informed on at least 50% of the books. Sometimes customers come in with no intention of buying at all, but engaging in conversations about your favourite classic or your experience on a newly-released YA book: welcome to book banter, mate! This alone gives you a very hermoine-feeling, especially when people say things like, “so what you’re saying is you’ve read half of the shelf here?!” That, if nothing else, might make them buy a book even if they don’t want to….because who wants to finish last in a race, right?
It’s not necessary for you to read each and every book in the shop…I mean that’s fairly impossible, right? But what you should know is what each book is about. Try to read blurbs of books, keep yourself updated with new releases and most of all, DOWNLOAD GOODREADS! Such a lifesaver, I kid you not!!! You’re not sure if Scarlet was the second or the third part in the Lunar Chronicles? No problem friend, you’ve got Goodreads. Click to add me on GR.
Which brings me to my next point:
7. Your TBR will only increase.
If you thought working in a bookstore will decrease your TBR pile because of the gratuitous access to books, you’re gravely mistaken friend. All you’ll see happening is more and more books being added to your list of to-reads. It will also come out as a huge shocker, that you have probably not even heard of half of the books and your book reading knowledge is probably just a mere speck in the bookiverse.
I got introduced to Orhan Pamuk and read my first Murakami novel. (Norwegian Wood! Damn, that’s some amazing writing.) while i was working. I also wanted to read The Idiot by Elif Batuman, and Lilac Girls and 4321 by Paul Auster and oh boy, the list is JUST-TOO-LONG.
So that’s for my summer experience, people. What did you all do in your vacations? Are you ready to go back to school/college/uni/work or are still not ready to give away those summer vibes?