A woman was standing in the aisle of the bookstore, looking a little lost. She had glasses, shoulder length light brown hair, and she was wearing shorts and a blue and white striped t-shirt. She seemed to be in her late 50's.
"Can I help you find something?," I asked.
"Well yes. Do you have anything about addiction or for someone getting over an alcohol addiction?"
"We sure do. Actually, right behind you is the section." I gestured to the bay with books dealing with alcohol and other addictions. "Do you want a how-to book for how to get sober?," I asked.
"Well, it's for my sister-in-law. I know she sees a therapist once a week. She's been sober for 69 days now."
"Hmm," I said. "What about a memoir?," I asked. "Sometimes reading about someone else going through the same thing can be helpful. And I have one in mind." I took her to the Biography section and showed her Caroline Knapp's DRINKING: A LOVE STORY.
"She writes about how her relationship with alcohol made it impossible for her to have any other relationships. She does get sober, but she's also really realistic about how hard it is, and how some people, a lot of people, don't stay sober. It's really well written. There is this other one, LIT, by Mary Karr which has been featured more than Caroline Knapp's, but my partner, who is a therapist, read both of them and thinks that DRINKING: A LOVE STORY is better by far."
"Oh, that sounds great. I'll take a look at that one. Is there anything else you can recommend?," she asked.
"Let's head back to the section," I said. "There are meditations and affirmations, would she be interested in something like that?," I asked.
"Hmm, I don't think so," she said.
"There are lots of titles about women and addiction and women and alcohol..." I pointed to about six books dealing with women and alcohol. "They might be helpful for her...?"
She noticed a bright blue book called TOXIC PARENTS: OVERCOMING THEIR HURTFUL LEGACY AND RECLAIMING YOUR LIFE by Susan Forward. "Oh. This might be really good. She's always going on and on about how it's all her mother's fault, that she drinks because of her mother."
"And at some point she's going to have to stop blaming her mother and take responsibility for her own behavior," I said.
"Exactly!," she said. "She hates me right now. Her birthday is Sunday. She is drinking a lot of coffee these days. What do you think about giving her these two books (Drinking: A Love Story and Toxic Parents) in a basket with some Starbucks?"
"Well, it's kind of a strong message, but it's also saying that you want her to recover and that these might be tools that might help her. You could give her gift receipts for the books," I said. "Then she could return them if she doesn't like them. Without gift receipts or any other kind of receipt we can't take them back or even do an exchange."
"I don't think so," she mused. "I'm afraid that she'll just return them and buy wine."
I laughed. "All right, no receipt then!," I said. "Good luck with everything!"
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