The other week, I was checking out at my dentist’s office when I noticed a man in a blue shirt who looked familiar – I could not recall from where though. As I finished at the receptionist’s desk and walked out through the door into the waiting the room, the man in the blue shirt saw me. The instant he did he stood up, and with great smile walked over to me, sticking out his hand to shake, and said, “Hey, I want to you thank you so much for that book recommendation.”
Last December I was at that book outlet store I go to so often (the one that is 2 for $5). I was scanning through the general fiction section when a man on the other side of the shelf made a comment to me of something like, “Man, there are so many book here. I’m just trying to find the Stephen King section but I don’t know where the letters start or how everything is sorted.” I instantly pointed out where each section was, how they were sorted, where the general fiction was and what shelf he could find King at. The man looked at me, mouth slightly open, in disbelief of what just occurred so fast . I hesitantly replied, “Yeah… I usually come here once to twice a month.” Then quickly added, “But I was just looking at King, so that’s how I knew exactly where he was.” (I don’t want a total stranger think I’m a nerd or total bookworm 😛 ).
Anyways, he starts asking me a little about King – if I like his work and such. I calmly respond that I do indeed like King, and he happens to be my favorite. The guys think this is the greatest news in the worlds. He tells me he is here looking to get a book for his daughter, because King is her favorite as well! (Naturally my first thought is, how old is said daughter?) I start naming a few novels right away like The Shinning, Salem’s Lot, and Duma Key... But then I stopped, realizing that some of this content may be a little mature depending on age and parental choice. I asked how old she was, and he told me she was 10 or 12 (I forget now), but that she had already read all of those, and named a few more she had read, like The Stand and 11/22/63.
I was extremely impressed a girl of that age had already read that many King novels. He tells me she always goes on about how great his writing, and we end up having a conversation about King; narrative style, prose, when he will go pages and pages of just rambling, how the New King compares to the Old, and certain novels. All this knowledge he gained from his daughter talking him.
Unfortunately, the only books they had were from the Dark Tower. His daughter had not yet read any of these, but the store only have a random selection from book 3 and on. I then brought up if she had ever read anything by his son, Joe Hill. He had no knowledge of any of his son’s work, but asked where his books were. Once again, I quickly pointed to the exact shelf where he was located (this time with pride and confidence in my bookish ways 😀 )
Turns the only novel the had by him, was also the only novel I had read by Joe – Horns. I told him it was fairly good (I gave it a 3 rating). Said a little bit about the story, and that it going to coming to theaters soon. Made sure to mention that there were some language and scenes that – even though she had read King before – maybe he should check it out first. That was about it though. The Horns conversation lasted at minute max. From there we went on to talk about being raised with King as your father and the kind of stories he most have told his son growing up.
We keep talking and next thing I know, we are both totally nerding out! We start talking about other authors, that leads into some of our favorite fantasy series and then it was just down the rabbit hole. Talking about ASOIAF books compared to the TV shows, random movies on Netflix, playing D&D, and then even some old comics like Elf Quest came up. We must have been hanging out in the isle for a book almost an hour before his son came over and said he was bored and ready to leave (How can you be bored in a bookstore though!?)
We said our goodbyes and I told him to remember to check out a couple of those King novels for his daughter and some other author’s novel I had recommend. I did not, however, pay attention to which books he had picked up to buy, let alone if he had decided to buy Horns. (Truth be told, I had forgotten I even recommended it).
He was just some random, nice dude, I met in a bookstore. Shared a good conversation, and figured I never see him again.
Until he stood to shake my hand, I had completely forgotten who he was.
Turns out he did buy Horns, AND he read it first before giving it to his daughter to make sure the content was okay. After he finished reading it, he called her up on the phone – she lives is another state with her mother – and told her that she HAD to read this. His daughter read it, and she loved it as well. Apparently right after she finished it, she called him up to talk about the book. Next time she was down to visit him, he told me, the two of them went to the theaters to see the movie.
This time, I was one standing there, mouth slightly open, in disbelief of what was happening.
I told you that when I left the store last year, I had already forgotten what I recommended him. Standing there, hearing him tell me all these great things about the book and his daughter, I felt like a complete idiot because I still hadn’t the slighter clue what he book was talking about! Then when he suddenly said they saw the movie, it hit me. Oh yeah! It was Horns!!!
We had brief conversation. Mainly him just talking about the book and what happened with it. Said goodbyes (again) and hoped that maybe one day, perhaps in the book store, we would run into each other again.
That was such an amazing moment, and I’m sure there are a lot of lesson one could take from this story. Such as the influence of books or book recommendations. How a book was able to bring a father and daughter together, or create a new friendship, or how much an impact a book could have on someone’s life. The power of books in general. Those are all true, but the main lesson I would like people to take from this (if they have read this far) is to be nice to everyone you meet.
If he hadn’t been a friendly guy, asked a simple question, and then tried to make some small talk, or if I had just pointed to where it was and walked away, or just didn’t bother with any of it – none of this would have happened. I wouldn’t have gotten to know a complete stranger, had an amazing talk, and make a new friend in the process. Then the dentist trip would have just been like every other one.
But to randomly see him again in doctor’s office, find out he actually took my recommendation (of which I literally talked minute about), that he read it first (very impressive) before he gave it to his daughter, and then they say the movie together. The fact that he took the time to tell me all that, and how much he appreciated it… Well, I can’t describe how it feels to know that he read the book, and it brought him and his daughter so much happiness.
I like to think that he picked up that book because of our conversation as a whole, and my personality. (I literally only said that Horns was about a guy who wakes up drunk one morning with horns on his head, and then he has the power of the devil… Then we went right into Joe’s upbringing.) Because personally, if he had told me there was a book there that he liked, I probably would have bought it just based on our conversation and how he was as a person.
Although I am certain I will never see that guy again, I consider him my friend, and hope that one day we do cross paths again.