Vroman’s “AN INDIE BOOKSTORE MOMENT”
by B.J. Hegedus
I was working on a display table in our Home Emporium section, stacks of new cookbooks, waiting for their place alongside gift merchandise. Figuring it all out is akin to real life Tetrus. While stringing twinkle lights through some very tall branches I’d discovered in our fixture room, a woman walked up to me and asked if I might be able to recommend a new book for her to read.
What do you like to read, I asked. Mysteries with strongly defined characters she said. She loved to find authors whom had written numerous books so she could read them all and how sad she was when she’d find herself finishing the most recent one they’d written.
She liked Kate Atkinson and Tana French- murder and mayhem with a literary twist. I told her I did too and that Tana French had a new book out — The Trespasser, which I had just read and was wonderful. We walked to the New Release wall to get her a copy.
She went on to tell me she needed a story grabber because she was going to be spending the next few weeks in a hospital, sitting with a relative. She wanted a read that would take her mind off things, something truly engaging. She told me historical fiction was her absolute favorite especially when mixed with mystery. Had I read The Devil in the White City? I had. Had she read The Alienist? She had.
I handed her a copy of The Nightingale, telling her it was a riveting story about two sisters living in France during the occupation, one of them working for the resistance. She took a copy of it as well. I suggested we go over to the Mystery section to see if there was anything else she might like to consider.
She told me she was an art teacher. She had spent time in Scotland when her husband had worked on the movie Braveheart. She loved it there, how the Celtic past, the aura of it permeated everything. How it felt magical. And then I had it, the perfect book for her. I told her it was one of my all time favorites. That I had read it many years ago, into the late night hours unable to put it down, knowing I would pay the price of little sleep the next day, but not caring.
It had strong characters, was a work of fantasy yet very much on point with its historical marks. It took place in post Roman England and as an added plus, was written by an author with many other books to go on to. I handed her The Mists of Avalon. Max, one of our book buyers, overheard the conversation and chimed in with a yup and a nod of agreement as well.
She was thrilled. I never learned her name, but I told her I hoped to see her again after she had read it. We said good- bye and carrying her three adventures she walked away.
I went back to my lights and table.
BJ Nathan Hegedus is a gift buyer and merchandise designer for Vromans Bookstore and Book Soup – two of the best indie bookstores in Los Angeles. She believes in the power of the written word to tell our stories and the importance brick and mortar bookstores play in getting these tales out into the world.
Indie-booksellers recognize a good book and they take the time to know their customers. TribeLA Magazine supports Independent Booksellers. We have quite a few in Los Angeles and you will be hearing more Indie Bookstore Moments in the coming months, so check back often. Also in this section, read about exciting new authors and new books.