There are times when a customer is so thrilled to find a particular book that a tsumani of joy resonates throughout the store. I’m not talking about a big grin and happy eyes. I mean the emotional equivalent of fireworks and bombs bursting in the air. I like sharing those moments of spontaneous, visceral satisfaction.
Three young guys in the 20-something age bracket came in last month, walked back to the science fiction shelves and, after a few minutes, I heard one of them exclaim, “This is awesome! Look at this! Wow! She’s going to love this!”
Of course, I had to go back and see what was causing the big sensation. It turned out the guys were all fans of George R. R. Martin and one of them had found our copy of A Feast of Ice & Fire by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer. It’s the official Game of Thrones companion cookbook and contains detailed instructions for preparing such fare as Breakfast on the Wall, Medieval Pease Porridge, Mutton in Onion-Ale Broth and other items that all fans of the series (and food lovers from other genres) should find extremely palate-pleasing.
The customer said his girlfriend was an avid cook, and he was positive the book would go into immediate use. Anticipating her reaction to seeing the gift was driving his satisfaction meter off the charts. “She will make everything in here!” he said, flipping through the pages. “She’ll love this! I have to get this!” And he did, most delightedly.
When you take a reader, then mix in a book that blends perfectly with his or her literary appetites, that’s a recipe for potential elation and definitely worth savoring whenever it happens.
The recipe also works over the phone. Not long ago a caller let out a whoop when I told her the book she wanted was in stock and I’d hold a copy for her. “You won’t be holding it for long!” she said. “Thank you so much!” Her voice pulsated with such enthusiasm it almost felt like the receiver was shaking in my hand.
Interestingly, this incident also involved a cookbook, but one aimed at a non-human segment of the American population. The title was Feed Your Best Friend Better by Portland writer Rick Woodford, also known as the Dog Food Dude.
A wide range of culinary creations such as Sweet Potato Fries for Sharing and Barkscotti can add a tasty new dimension to every canine companion’s diet. I especially like the cover of this book because it features a furry friend that looks just like my dog Lottie (and if that name sounds familiar, it’s because we named her after a memorable character created by Astoria author Petra Mathers). We’re probably fortunate Lottie and all other dogs can’t read because I feel certain they’d be yelping up a storm spreading the news about this title.
Finding that just-right book is much like a hungry person discovering a lavishly stocked banquet table. Unrestrained happiness is the natural reaction. There’s one word that perfectly describes these moments: Delicious.
Jeffrey Shaffer is a bookseller at Annie Bloom’s Books in the historic Multnomah Village district of southwest Portland. His relationship with Annie Bloom’s began in the 1990′s when the store’s booksellers enthusiastically sold his two humor collections I’m Right Here, Fish-Cake and It Came With the House. Last November he joined the staff and discovered that selling books can be just as interesting as the writing process. Shaffer recently wrote about one of his most treasured books in an essay in The Christian Science Monitor.