Last week I found myself with an hour and a half wait, without a book or a NOOK. But, as good fortune would have it, I was half a block away from one of Portland's great independent bookstores, Broadway Books.
I did not go in with the intention to buy. I really just wanted to look around and see the familiar books in an unfamiliar landscape. I may be surrounded by books all day at work, but I don't often have the time to wander and savor. As soon as I opened the door I was greeted by the two women working inside. One of them asked me if I needed any help and I said I was just browsing. I'm not sure what prompted me to do this, but I turned around and asked her what book she'd read recently that she'd really loved. She walked me over to a table and showed me this non-fiction book she'd read and couldn't say enough good things about. Then she showed me a few other books before turning the question back to me. And once I'd answered, she gave me a few specific recommendations based on my answer.
In short, it was a fabulous example of good customer service. I browsed the entire store, contemplating this experience. She had done such a great job and I felt like I really wanted to reward the store with my business. I was reminded of a book a coworker friend had recommended...only I couldn't remember the title or the author.
I was suddenly one of those awful customers. "Well, it's red with white letters. The title is something and something. It recently came out in paperback. Oh, and the author has a new book out and that one's blue."
Yeah, not particularly helpful. But bless her heart, she tried and she tried with a great attitude.
I wandered back to the fiction section, knowing if it were there I would spot it fairly quickly. And sure enough, there it was, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I figured it was time I finally bought and read this book.
I ended up at a coffee shop while I waited and devoured the first hundred pages. I loved the characters, the perspective, the plot.
But I had this sneaking suspicion it was going to break my heart.
There is this little problem that comes from reading books about story, about writing, about plotting. I can barely read a book these days or watch a movie without noticing small details and clues I never would have noticed before, all those things an author does to set the stage, to tell the story, to make it all ring true when you get to the finale.
And when it comes to "ticking clocks," this book executed it expertly.
I've been emotionally affected by other books recently, books that have brought tears to my eyes, but nothing prepared me for my response to this book. I could barely read the last 50 pages through the tears and by the final pages I was literally sobbing.
Now, the thought of having your heart ripped out of your chest and then beaten and bruised until you can barely recognize it may not sound all that appealing. But truthfully, I feel like this book is an important sort of book and handles the ideas of Love in a way not often done in literature.
It will be quite some time before I stop thinking about this book.