We currently live in an age of pre-ordered surprises. The siren call of subscription boxes is so hard to resist, but the prices are so often outrageously high. You want the whimsy and surprise of having a book given to you, but it's hard to justify the expense. Let me tell you: there is a cheaper, more personal, and much more quirky way to lead the whimsical reading life you've always wanted.
Let me tell you a story about a man named Tuesday John.
On a Tuesday I was working at the bookstore. I was at the cash register, and it was proving to be a normal day. A man walks up to the counter and asks me for a recommendation. This is by far my favorite part of the job.
So I say, "Who is the book for?"
He says, "Me."
I say, "Oh, what kind of books do you like?"
He says, "Anything."
Now I call mother fuckers out on that kind of bullshit, because no you do not like anything, don't even try to lie to me.
He explained to me that he wants me to pick out any book and give it to him. Completely thrown off by the boldness of his request, I walked over to literature. I hesitated, then chose Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I was about to go into my spiel about the book to explain that it wasn't about geeks in love, but he stopped me short. He didn't want to know anything about it ahead of time. He would purchase the book, no questions asked. And he did.
When I recounted this bizarre experience to my coworkers, they immediately knew who I was talking about. John has been coming into the store every other Tuesday for at least a year, buying whatever book he was given by a bookseller.
Can you imagine anything more whimsical than this?? The quirk level is so high, I feel like I'm living in Amélie's Paris every other Tuesday. And you know what? You can replicate this SO easily at any used bookstore or the library. You can pop in once a month, once a week, or whenever you feel slump-y. You can opt to share a little about your tastes with the bookseller or librarian, or go in blind like Tuesday John. Giving recommendations is literally every book fan's favorite part of bookish jobs, so PLEASE don't hesitate to ask.
This DIY approach to a more whimsical reading life has so many benefits.
1 // Interesting, cheap books you may not have heard of.
2 // You give yourself a reason to visit the home of many books. FUN.
3 // You become a regular and you might get a cool nickname like Tuesday John.
4 // New bookish friends.
We now have a spreadsheet in the break room of what has been recommended to Tuesday John and by whom. Everybody knows him, and he knows us. Whenever I see him, we have great conversations about the books he's been reading, and I try to get him to compare my coworkers' choices and determine whether or not I'm the recommendation queen. Tuesday John is now a friend to anybody he talks to at the bookstore and he knows us on a level that a lot of people don't, because he learns all of our favorite books. And he knows he has someone to talk to about the book he just finished.
Isn't that more fun than a random book in a box at your door?
If you decide to inject some whimsy into your reading life, please recount how it goes in the comments!