One of our outstanding booksellers, Annie, has been spearheading a project to provide books to a great group of people.
Publisher's send bookstores like our Advanced Reader Copies (ARC's) of books that will be published sometime in the next 6 months or so. The idea is that we will read them, love them and then be ready to sell them when the books finally arrive in our store on the publication date.
While many of these books find homes on the shelves of the libraries of our staff, there are often too many for us to take home. We have always struggled with positive things to do with these books. We can't sell them. We can't bring ourselves to destroy them. What to do?
Annie saw this problem and came up with a great solution.
"The idea just sort of came to me randomly. I'd been thinking about all the ARCs in the break room and what the store does with them when the book is released. It occurred to me those ARCs could help a lot of people who are going through treatment for cancer at Virginia Mason Medical Center's Floyd and Delores Jones Cancer Institute. I myself went through treatment there from May 2008 through March 2009 for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I still go there for check ups and testing to make sure my cancer hasn't returned.
"The thing that's stayed with me is the kindness of the doctors, nurses, techs, schedulers, everyone there works hard to make a frightening and terrible experience a little easier to bear. These people did a lot for me and they do a lot for all the other patients who come through their doors. So I wanted to help them with their job.
"My treatment would take a full day, during which my family would entertain themselves, and sometimes me. Part of that entertainment was books. But going through chemotherapy also means you - and likely your family and friends - don't have much energy left to seek out comforting things to help you escape what you're going through. So I thought if I could bring these ARCs to the patients and their families, that's one less thing they have to think about trying to do. And one more thing that can provide comfort to everyone, the staff included.
"I bounced the idea off several of my coworkers, who were very positive about the idea. I got in touch with Pat Lively, a social worker who works with cancer patients. Between the two of us, we've got a nice collection of free books in the Meditation Room of the Cancer Institute that people can take. It's an amazing feeling giving back to people who helped me through so much, and provide them with another way to help ease others' discomfort.
"I get teary each time I drop off the ARCs."
A huge thank you to Annie for sharing her story, and our ARCs. A solid reminder that the smallest things in life can make the biggest difference, that we are surrounded by overlooked resources and unrecognized opportunities to pay-it-back and pay-it-forward everyday. More importantly it is a reminder that amidst so many stories of a lack of love in the world there really are just as many, if not more, that demonstrate the opposite.