From Book Browser to Published Writer

From Publisher’s Weekly:

For 16 years [my mother] recommended the perfect books to people and shared her love of reading with others, spreading that joy the same way she blessed me with it.

Whenever my mother and I drove through our little downtown in Madison, Ct., we always stopped at our local bookstore, RJ Julia. It was a ritual for us, a bit of magic.

Each visit was special, but I can remember a particular instance so vividly: I step in the door in a Spice Girls T-shirt and cargo pants. At 10 years old, I’m young enough that girls’ clothes still had pockets. My goal is to empty those pockets of hard-saved allowance on what this store has to offer.

There is a buzz of excitement walking into a bookstore that all book lovers know so well: the delicious smell of paper and ink, coffee wafting from the café as people chat about their latest reads.

I make a beeline for the stairs to check out the children’s books section. It’s like stepping into a toy store, only better: in a toy store I wouldn’t be able to buy everything I wanted, but in my family, when it comes to books, there’s no self-control.

That’s because we’re a family of storytellers. Be it through books, movies, songs, jokes, or exaggerated anecdotes, storytelling is our first language. As soon as I realized I could make up my own worlds, I did—constantly. I’d build upon the stories I read and fill crinkled notebooks full of my own fantasies and walking daydreams. It made my own world make more sense.

Sometimes fiction felt more honest than reality—that one story, one scene, better at evoking everything stirring inside me. The stakes inside my 10-year-old brain were more perfectly explained by the epic battles and quests and magic than homework or chores.

Every night I’d fall asleep thinking about the chapter I’d just read and dreaming up new stories. When I finally realized in my early 30s that I was neurodivergent and was eventually diagnosed, a lot of this started to make sense. Stories always flowed through me. On one level, they entertained my overactive mind with fun adventures, and on another level, they spoke to the unnamed emotions within me and helped me understand myself and the world around me.

. . . .

My mother ended up working at RJ Julia when I went off to university. For 16 years she recommended the perfect books to people and shared her love of reading with others, spreading that joy the same way she blessed me with it. All these many years, many jobs, many countries later, and that passion has stayed with me. Life took so many twisty turns to get me here (have I told you about the monkeys in Guatemala?). But here I am, living halfway around the world, and RJ Julia is still there in Madison—but now with my books on its shelves.

Link to the rest at Publisher’s Weekly

3 thoughts on “From Book Browser to Published Writer”

  1. “There is a buzz of excitement walking into a bookstore that all book lovers know so well…”

    I realized late in life that this is not actually true. Not all book lovers love bookstores. Books have always been sold through other outlets such as discount stores, long before Amazon. Commercial genre fiction in particular was widely available. Bookstores carried it too, but you could devour endless quantities of commercial genre fiction without ever setting foot in a bookstore, and without forming any sort of emotional bond with bookstores

    • I remember being excited walking into the “big city” bookstore as a child. (For certain values of “big city” – the Phoenix area was much larger than my small town, but much, much smaller than it has become since my long-ago childhood.) More Heinleins, more Asimovs, more Clarkes, more, more, more. The agony of choosing just two or three…

      Never lost my love of books, but definitely missing that excitement now.

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