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Closing Thoughts of a Certified Bookworm

Closing Thoughts of a Certified Bookworm

Posted by Alex Maaser on Mar 20, 2023

Hello, fellow bookworm.

My name is Alex, and I have worked at Firefly Bookstore for a little while now. You may have run into me on your occasional stops in - I’m always the one wearing the funky earrings. If our paths haven’t crossed before, it’s nice to meet you now.

The path of events that led me to this job were rather coincidental. I transferred to Kutztown University during the height of shutdown amidst the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, so my chances to explore town and get to know this small community before I graduated were limited. It wasn’t until classes started up again in the fall of 2021 that I really took the time to explore and discover what Kutztown had to offer. It was then that I stumbled upon Firefly, and a small part of my heart danced at knowing that a locally-owned bookstore was right in my backyard .

At the time, I was working a rather exhausting job in food service and I was desperate for a change of pace. I knew I was inching my way towards graduation and that my time at Kutztown was ending as rapidly as I felt it had started. Driving down Main Street one day after class, I passed Firefly and thought to myself, I wonder if the bookstore in town is hiring.

Maybe it was simply chance or the work of luck, but later that day I found a recently-posted open position for a part-time employee (I would later learn that there are no employees at Firefly, but rather we bear the title of Minions.)

The rest is rather predictable; I sent in an application, received a call the next day, and within two weeks I was the newest hire of this little bookstore on Main Street. I remember coming in for my interview, seeing a table of Studio Ghibli books in the children’s section, and saying to myself, “Yes, this is the place I need to be working at.”

If you read the title of this piece, you may have gathered by now that my closing thoughts are my parting words to this job I’ve loved so much, and you may be questioning why I would leave such a place. Ever since I was in middle school, I absolutely loved to read. I read my library’s entire young adult fiction section and spent almost all my birthday money each year on buying even more books for my personal collection. I always thought that working in a bookstore would be an idealistic job. Oh, to be surrounded by more books than you could ever read each day! That was my dream.

A common thing people say to me when I’m working is, “You’re so lucky. You get paid to read books all day.” My younger self probably thought the same thing at one point. Oh, but I tell them, there is so much more to working in a bookstore that I could not imagine having the time to sit and read all day.

My position is nothing short of busy. I spend each day I work here organizing, cleaning, planning, designing, prepping… I won’t bore you, but the list does go on. Since my first day, I remembered that younger version of myself who loved to read and the current person I am who studied and made a career out of English and writing - and I threw myself into my work. That dream of being surrounded by endless amounts of books came true, and I have loved every minute of it. My list of books to read has grown substantially from the recommendations you all give me. I think my bookshelf has doubled in size since I began working here.

As much as I love working here and constantly surrounding myself with books, this dream created by my younger self has been fulfilled. My Minion Overlords, Matt and Rebecca, have been nothing short of loving and welcoming to me since I walked in for my interview. They’ve put up with my loud rants about Sarah J. Maas books; they’ve stopped questioning who keeps ordering all this new manga. They gave me the opportunity and environment to flourish, to test my skills right after graduating college and see what I was capable of.

If you look around Firefly, you’ll find signs I made, books I ordered, drawings and origami I left around. A little part of me will always live in the young adult fantasy section, right by that Studio Ghibli display that first made me feel like I belonged here. I like to think that, even though this job was never meant to be permanent, I became a permanent little part of this place.

Although my time as a Minion is coming to a close, I know I’ll still be wandering these aisles for as long as I live nearby. Who else will talk my coworkers’ ears off about the newest fantasy book? I can’t let them all off the hook that easily.

This is not merely a closing statement to my time working here, but a love letter to small-business bookshops and my time working in one. Stop in your local bookstore - wander around, say hello to the staff, ask them what they like to read. Local shops such as this one make a community whole, and I know my life is a little bit brighter because Firefly is in it.

Thank you, Firefly Bookstore. I’m glad I get to be a part of your legacy.