For anyone sensible, the holiday season is still weeks away from beginning.
I, however, work retail, which means our holiday season started last week.
And this year, I’ve decided to ask for YOUR help with it.
You see, I’m the kids and teen expert in our store. It’s my department in a literal sense, as in that’s my job, but it’s also where I love to read. We have a few employees who read scattered books across those sections, but pretty much, I’m the one to go to with any questions. BUT- I’m not always there. Feels like it sometimes, but not actually true. Even when I am there, I’m not always able to go back to help someone if I’m already in the middle of assisting someone else.
So I’m making a cheat sheet of sorts.
One of the biggest things we see in the holidays is people who don’t really know much about the people they’re getting gifts for. Maybe it’s a party, maybe it’s a work gift exchange, or class/club gift exchange, or cousins or nieces and nephews. Maybe it’s that they know the person well, but not their reading tastes, or they know what they like but not what they’ve already read. Usually at that point we recommend a git card, to allow the recipient to choose for themselves, but we get a lot of people who don’t want to be that impersonal. Even if they have to get a gift receipt to allow the person to exchange it, they want a physical book to hand over.
When they know a little, it’s a bit easier to educated recs. A bit. If, for example, what they know is that the person loved Twilight, that doesn’t actually make it easier. Lots of people who loved Twilight don’t like other vampire books. If they can list off several books or series the person has read and enjoyed, I can usually point them towards other things within that vein- or, if the series are separate enough and ones that I enjoyed, I can go from my tastes.
But all too often, we get people who really just have no clue. They know the person likes to read, and when they’re that uninformed about what the recipient likes to read, that’s generally a clue that the gift-giver doesn’t read. Which makes pointing them towards specific books harder, rather than easier. People who don’t read tend to be very distrustful of others telling them to read things, even if you’re not telling them to read it.
So I am looking for everyone’s Go-To Books. The book (or books) that you can rec again and again and again without blinking an eye, the book(s) you think everyone should read. This is the book you can push to those who love to read or to those who hate it. This is the book that, when someone asks you for a rec, is the first thing to jump to your tongue. AND- I’m looking for why.
Pending manager approval, I’m hoping to give our employees access to a notebook that has information about series, about categories of books (i.e. vampire books, angel books, werecreature books, historical fiction books, etc), AND a few pages of these Go-To Books with descriptions and reasons. Things that the employees can familiarize themselves with so that when I’m not available, they can still help the customers who have no idea what they should be searching for.
Despite the vague customer expectation that a bookstore employee must read every book within the store (and honestly, WHERE do they get that idea?!), we all have our sections that we love. The benefit to a group of employees as close as ours is that we know what everyone else reads. If someone is asking me for a horror book, I can name a couple of Go-To Books that our horror readers have told me about (like Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box), but for anything more detailed, I do my best to hand them off to the two people on the staff who read horror. Same with anyone asking about business, law, or current affairs books- we have someone who reads within those sections. Between all of us, we cover a good chunk of the store (I’m kids, teen, and smatterings of mystery, drama/Shakespeare, fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, mythology, history, and science, if that isn’t a combination to blow minds), but we don’t always have immediate access to our experts.
So I’m asking your help! I’ll give an example below, but in the comments, PLEASE tell me about your Go-To Book and why you can rec it to anyone. Just to sweeten the pot, I recently received some swag for Firelight and Vanish by Sophie Jordan, so I’ll throw all the commenters into a hat (or a cat bed, if we’re honest) and pull winners for some of that swag. Please leave your email in the comment so I can actually contact you if you win, and feel free to post about this to others. Comments will be welcome straight through the holiday season, but I’ll draw for swag winners on Sunday, 20 November, which gives two weeks for eligibility for the goodies.
I’m looking for Young Adult and Middle Grade, the more recs the better.
Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead. Lands solidly within the vampire block, but with a strong mythology based off of three different types of vampires. Solid story, strong romances, TONS of action. There is never a dull moment in this book or in this series, and the stakes continually get higher while still allowing payoff on the previous issues. The characters are amazing, especially Rose, our narrator. Rose is an impulsive, uber-protective, self-confident Guardian who throws herself at the world, gets her ass kicked, and promptly dusts herself off and goes on to kick ass in turn. There’s a great blend of funny, of sweet, of bittersweet, and enough romantic angst to satisfy even the most diehard Twihard. A little more geared towards girls than boys (female first person narration and there is some sex, both in talk of it and act of it), but boys willing to get past that would really enjoy the fight sequences and the action, complete with high speed chases, getaways, and prison breaks (later in the series). Six books in the series, complete, with a spin-off series with one book out.
So please, share below! What is YOUR Go-To Book?
Until next time~