15 October 2014

Wednesday Special: 9 Things to Do When You're Bored in a Bookstore

If that ever happens.

Sometimes, on rare and unfortunate days, we find the contents of bookshops less than interesting. (Author's note: why do bad things happen to good people?) Bookstores are great, sure -- but what can we do when it doesn't feel that way? We certainly don't genuinely believe that books are dull . . . it's a temporary feeling, most of the time.

Here are some bookish boredom-busting activities to do in a bookstore, whether you're flying solo or spending quality time with friends.

Part I: You come first.

A bookstore is the best kind of place to find yourself alone in. Take advantage of such serendipity; it comes only occasionally -- unless you're like me and you somehow find yourself at the bookstore once a week.

1. Treat yo'self to something special. The nice thing (or, one of the nice things) about bookstores is that they're constantly being innovated. New books arrive on a weekly or at least monthly basis, depending on the specific bookstore, and other books aren't often removed. This gives you a wide, wide, wide selection of books to choose from.

While most bookstores have official websites, some also allow you to order books on-line. Investigate this opportunity, if you have it. Always be on the lookout for newly-released books, popular books, the book versions of upcoming films, banned books, and others -- but don't hesitate to gravitate toward the stories you've never heard of.

Image via Hello Giggles.

2. (Discreetly) lend a helping hand. If you see another customer wandering the aisles with a furrowed brow, assist them in finding the novel that they can't find. Give an honest, wholehearted book recommendation to someone who is younger than you (preferably a child).

Tidy up after yourself, as always, and walk the extra mile. If you spot a dishevelled stack of books, right it. If a previous customer placed books on the shelves in the wrong order, fix them (providing you know how to properly arrange them). Whether they're aware of your actions or not, the employees, manager(s), and owner(s) of the bookstore will appreciate your willingness to help.

3. Talk to employees. Sure, you'll probably make small talk at the register, or you'll exchange a few words when they offer to help you find something you're looking for -- but put forth an effort. If they aren't currently engrossed in their work (their boss will not appreciate you coming between an employee and their job!), start a conversation.

The chances are more than likely that such a discussion will incorporate books, so start there. Ask for recommendations from them, and don't refrain from mentioning your own favourite books. The vast, vast majority of people who work in libraries and book retailers are lovers of literature, and so it is rather difficult to go wrong when you're talking together about novels.

Part II: Share the love.

That being said, people are sources of happiness, entertainment, and new ideas. Books, too, being full of ideas, are well-worth being shared between each other. Combine the best of both and try out these activities with your friends:

1. Have a #ThrowbackThursday (or Friday, or any day). Even if you both have far exceeded the "age limit," journey to the children's section. Walk through each aisle and show each other your most treasured childhood books. You might find picture books that you forgot how much you adored.

2. Compete. Once you've made your purchases after an extensive day of bookstore-prowling, challenge one another to see who can read his or her books faster. (To make it fairer, buy the same number of stories, or ones that are of similar length.) Spice up the competition: the loser has to pay for any book of the winner's choice and then present it to the winner to enjoy.

3. Make a day of it. Instead of searching for new finds, bring a book you're currently reading (or, if you find it preferable, bring your favourite book). Find a comfortable sofa to share, sit down, and read for an hour or two. If you'd like, you can bring the same book and read it together aloud -- but do so quietly if possible, especially if you're in a library. Silence is, like, the golden rule of every library.

Part III: Apply it to either situation.

What are some things you can make happen, regardless of whether you're in your own company or in the company of another?

1. Get involved -- as much as you'd like. Visit the bookstore as often as you want to. (Almost every time you go, there will be some new selection of novels to choose from.) Take note of and then attend bookstore-sanctioned events: most modern libraries and bookstores have ever-growing schedules of events. Do book fairs strike your fancy? Or would you rather attend an author visit/book signing? Some places even offer poetry readings, writing workshops, movie screenings, or summer reading competitions.

2. Have a bit of mischievous fun. To a reasonable (and legal) extent, of course.

Walk through the aisles and stealthily leave notes inside books' front covers, for future readers to find. (Be an ethical human being and don't hint at spoilers.) Or, alternatively, slip a small currency bill at a random spot within the book -- or, if it's a book that you have read, during your favourite part.

3. Keep coming back. Always, always come back. And if a specific bookshop isn't quite doing it for you, seek out other local stores. You deserve to appreciate the safe haven that you and I know to be called a "bookstore."

Stuck? -- or can you simply not decide where to start? Choose one of these activities at random! Better yet, make up your own, especially if you're with friends. (Multiple heads are better than one!)

Have you ever been bored in a bookstore or library? What did you do to beat it? (There are a plethora of possible answers!) Get back to me in the comments.

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