When I was sitting down to write this post, I had all kinds of things I wanted to say—about my earliest bookstore memories, about the scent of bookstores (don’t you just love the way they smell!?), about the huge crush I had on the guy at the Barnes & Nobles cafe in Silverdale, Washington, when I was 16. But then the baby started screaming, I got sidetracked, and began thinking about my earliest book-buying memories and experiences. So I decided to write about something else, something I haven’t thought of for years and years–a fond memory that came floating back just now: mail-order book programs in elementary school. Do you remember these?
I was an elementary school student in the 1980’s (sporting hideous bangs, jelly bracelets and leggings with stirrups—oh dear) and every month or so, our teachers would pass out a book catalog for us to peruse. We’d thumb through the pages, circling the books we hoped to order, then begged our parents for the book money to make our purchases. A few weeks later, the book deliveries arrived. We’d sit at our desks, absolutely giddy with excitement, as our teacher sorted through the order, passing out the brown paper parcels to each of the students who had been fortunate enough to be able to order. Back then, I was addicted to The Babysitters Club series, and I distinctly remember my heart beating faster when I held a new book in my hands.
It’s just a little memory, but a significant one. This book program encouraged reading and made the process so exciting for my young self. It’s funny, today, whether I order a book online, or from my favorite local independent bookseller, I still feel a little of that same excitement when I hold it in my hands for the first time. (Yes, I have a Kindle, but I’m someone who still adores the feel of a real physical book in her hands.)
Did you have a book-ordering program in school? Do you have fond memories of it the way I do?