Bookstore? What bookstore?

Ever have one of THOSE weeks?

This week, returning from Istanbul and diving into wrapping up the semester at the college, I have logged less than three hours working in the bookstore. My loving spouse has been carrying the place solo as I careen from car to class to meeting to car, stopping only to fling my body horizontal in a darkened room for five hours at a time.

Yeah, it’s a first world problem. I’m playing catchup partly because I got to spend twelve days meandering the streets of Old and New Istanbul, hand in hand with my beloved. And when we got home, shopsitters Mark and Sally had left the place immaculate and organized.

That was Monday…. by Tuesday evening 12 big boxes of trade-ins sat on our bookshop floor. Clearly, some customers had been waiting for us to return.

My amazing husband was on his hands and knees in the back of the store last night, triaging the last of the paperbacks. I patted him on the shoulder as I raced past. Modern marriages are wonderful things.

And yet, in the midst of the chaos, beneath the burden of all that must  be done, there is a weight that doesn’t so much push down as hold up.

Wednesday past, as I turned out the light much later than I wanted to in preparation for climbing the stairs to bed, I stood for a few moments in our dark, calm bookstore. The walls were lined with books, silent sentinels of so many lives. Testimony that many had gone before, and survived, thrived, even recorded their journeys.

And I breathed. That smell, that lovely smell of dust and ideas–and lemon scent; our cleaner Heather is amazing–worked its way into my rapid-fire lungs. And I slowed down a little.

Just for three minutes, I stood, breathing. Just breathing. This too shall pass, this present cloud of bustle. Busy ends of the semester will return to summer beach readers and long, leisurely glasses of iced tea–or cups of hot tea–with customers who are friends, stopping by to ask about titles, offer reviews, show us their child’s report card.

It’s a good thing to have the weight of books in one’s life. Then I climbed the stairs to the bedroom, where on the left side of the bed a lump lay. The other anchor to my life, Jack, snored softly. Just breathing.

Fast food, furious grading, fast driving, faster meetings and all, I have the most wonderful life.

Sarcastic Shelf Guides involving Sexual Innuendoes we Fantasize about putting up in the Bookshop

I’ve spent the past few days moving large masses of books around the shop, reshelving sections that have shrunk or expanded, making certain like sits with like. This has included creating new overhead hanging signs, showing what’s on the shelves below.

As happens about hour three of scrutinizing books title by title, carrying armloads back and forth across the shop floor, Jack and I got the wee bit silly. We began to create “totally honest shelf guides.” Here are a few you will never see in a bookstore. Not if it wants to stay in business, anyway.

Celebrity biographies

Biographies of people who have actually done something


Interesting Memoirs

Classics because the school system says so

Real Classics

Science Fiction

Science Fiction involving Science

Bikini Bimbo Science Fiction

Science Fiction with an Apocalyptic Christian Twist

Science Fiction with an Apocalyptic Amish Christian Twist

Cozy Mysteries: candles, soap, needlecraft

Cozy Mysteries: medieval

Cozy Mysteries: cookery

Cozy Mysteries: cats, dogs and other animals with big brown eyes

Cozy Mysteries: someone actually cares when murder occurs

Non-Cozy Mysteries: Native American

Non-Cozy Mysteries: Everything Else

Historic Fiction

Historic Fiction with at least 30% accuracy


Poetry that Rhymes

Christian Values

Christian Values that are in the Bible

Modern Values packaged as Christian to sell Better

Paranormal Romances: Fleas and Fangs

Paranormal Romances: three or more pages occurring before coupling (Literary)

Cookbooks by celebrities and diet fad gurus

Cookbooks by people who know what they’re doing

Guys with Big Guns, Fiction and Non

Estrogen Express (Self-help, Career and Relationships)

Hippies, Retro

Hippies, New Age

Hippies, Green

Stephen King (Horror, but we’ve stopped bothering)

Bestsellers (please stack latest Cornwall, Evanovich, Grisham or Patterson here)

War (aka American History; please note Middle East and WWII are located here)