Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bookstore Discomfort

Yesterday, I let myself be rushed out of the bookstore. I can see now that it was my own hang-up. I let an encounter from my past dictate how I feel a decade later. My problem stems back to one trip to the used bookstore and one incredibly douchey dude (he was even wearing a beret for butt's sake) who asked me "How can you read such crap?" when he saw my arms were full of romance novels. Where the heck did this guy get off addressing my book choices? I cannot think of one instance in my life when I shared an unsolicited opinion to a stranger, (however much I want to say something to a heavily pregnant woman with a cigarette), but I digress. This one a-hole has forever tainted my book shopping, forcing me to look over my shoulder as I select the books that I enjoy.

Fast forward ten years... I was at Half-Price Books, burning some time while my husband was picking up a hard drive. It was the perfect opportunity for me to make a quick trip for new reading material. I ensconced myself in Romance, happily perusing my favorite authors' sections while checking the list I'd jotted down at home. An employee walked over and asked me if I needed help finding anything and I smiled and told him, "No, I'm just browsing." End of story? Sadly, no.

He then walked closer to see what I was looking at. He asked me if I read anything besides romance. I nodded, but he just stood there, making me too uncomfortable to pull anything else and read the blurbs. After an awkward 45 seconds, he then proceeded to suggest two different mainstream mystery authors. WTF? It was like looking for a cookbook and this guy suggesting a book about the Civil War.

"Who are your favorite authors?"  I wasn't about to tell him anything. I could just see him rolling his eyes at the paranormal and erotica writers that popped into my mind. 

I shook my head. It was none of this dude's business and, employee or not, the fact that he suggested a book from another genre when I was clearly looking at romance didn't give me much confidence in his recommendations. He still stood there, weirding me out; I could practically feel his disdain. Didn't he have anything else to do? The store was full of customers. Needless to say, this was not conducive for a comfortable shopping experience, so I grabbed a Jill Shalvis book off of the shelf and went to check out. 

Once I was back in my car, I realized that I had let the old embarrassment from a jerk pollute my book shopping pleasure, forever feeling stigmatized by what I read (and write). Perhaps recognizing that I have a problem is the first step into overcoming it, but for now, I'll end up buying those books on Amazon and having to wait on them to arrive separately and filling up my Kindle without prying eyes; nothing nearly as awesome as dumping out my bag of books all at once. Thanks, douchey beret man. 


  1. I had that happen to me one time and I've never been known to hold my tongue, I'm very outspoken...sometimes too much so. I was at a doctors office and reading a romance book when a lady asked me what I was reading. She just looked at me and shook her head and mumbled "Oh, bodice rippers"

    I let her have it. I told her there was nothing wrong with the romance genre and they are no longer called bodice rippers. It's a good thing she got called in the back because I was far from done.

    Sadly..or probably for the better..I don't get out much and buy most of my books from Amazon these days.

  2. I wish I could let loose like that. I'm always brave after the fact(in my mind only), thinking of all of the things I should have said. One day...