8.13.2016

things i heard at the library: an occasional series: #22

"Can you help me find some mystery books?"

"Yes, I'd be happy to. What kind of mysteries are you looking for?"

"The kind where someone is killed, and then they figure out who did it."

Okay...

In the mystery fiction section, I tried this. "There are different kinds of mysteries. Some are more gritty and violent. Some are more gentle. Some are humourous. Do you know what might interest you at all? Maybe you've seen a mystery on TV that you liked?"

He said, "You know, it makes you think that one person did it, but really it was another person?"

Not a lot to go on there! I pulled three different books by three different popular mystery authors, and he went happily on his way.

In case it seems like I'm making fun of this customer, I'm not at all. I thought it was very sweet. I give him credit for being able to ask for help on such a basic level. The interaction was an great reminder to not assume knowledge or use jargon. Your next customer could be a first-time reader.

4 comments:

impudent strumpet said...

Fun fact: I genuinely can't tell if the customer is a child or an adult in this story! (I see textual clues that point to both possibilities)

laura k said...

Interesting! The customer is an adult male.

There's no way you could have known this, but I don't work with children right now. That's probably why I didn't think to make that clear.

impudent strumpet said...

What made me think it might be a child was referring to him as a first-time reader, and "it makes you think that one person did it, but really it was another person". (Sounded to me like something a preteen who had just been exposed to that kind of plot twist for the first time would say, although reading it with the knowledge that it was an adult male, I can hear that being uttered in an adult male voice too.)

What made me think it might be an adult was referring to the authors as "popular mystery authors" (I would have expected authors writing for kids to be referred to as children's or YA authors), and the fact that the story was being told in the first place. It would be less story-worthy if the customer were a child, although adults (myself included) do tell stories about situations where they didn't realize what a child didn't know.

laura k said...

What made me think it might be an adult was referring to the authors as "popular mystery authors" (I would have expected authors writing for kids to be referred to as children's or YA authors), and the fact that the story was being told in the first place. It would be less story-worthy if the customer were a child, although adults (myself included) do tell stories about situations where they didn't realize what a child didn't know.

This, exactly. In a library, a child/tween/teen saying this would have been nice, but unremarkable. You're also right in that I would have said "mysteries for teens" or "children's mysteries", rather than "popular mystery writers".