I always got my best book recommendations from my old library cart. Well, the library cart wasn't really mine. I was a shelver at my town's library, before I started college, and I would use their carts to do my job.
I first noticed something was up with the cart when I was shelving juvenile paperbacks. These were the lightest books we owned (and kept in the worst shape - kids are brats). But when I was rolling the cart, it was heavy. It groaned when I pushed it, and steering it was a mini-workout. It wasn't this hard to move a double-stack of adult non-fiction.
What was really odd, though, was as I removed more books, it barely got lighter. Finally, when all of the Fairy Princesses, Mary Kate and Ashley's, and other stupid books were shelved, its weight became normal. Only R.L. Stine's Goosebumps remained, and it was actually pretty light, even lighter than I'd expect.
I shrugged the incident off. But then I noticed it happening more and more. And then I noticed patterns. Certain sections, like Fiction and Young Adult, would almost always be lighter than, say, Biography. I chalked it up to me imagining it.
One day I was shelving Young Adult, and it was awfully heavy. I remembered it was full of Meg Cabot. I'd never seen so much pink in my life. But after I shelved her books, it became really light. I was left with a few books of an author unfamiliar to me - Darren Shan. I guess people didn't take his books out often, because I knew the name Meg Cabot very well.
And his books, man, they looked awesome. And I read them. And they were awesome.
Then it dawned on me - the lighter the book, the better they were, and vice versa.
Ever since then, I paid super close attention to what books felt like on that cart, and I would only ever use that cart. I began to shelve in random orders to get different feels. When I was sure the book was good, I'd check it out.
Eventually, I became an expert at reading the cart. I wouldn't even have to shelve a lot of books to tell how the weight was distributed. I became a reading fiend. Every suggestion I'd fly through, because it was suited just for me. I'd work an extra hour to get more suggestions.
It was like a game. "Would I like this one?" "No, you'd hate it." "And this?" "If you're in the right mood." It really broke up the monotony of shelving.
One day, though, we got a bunch of new Romance Paperbacks. The kind with the sexy people on the cover. And the cart was full. And it must have weighed a ton. It had never had this strain before. And just before I reached the shelves, it collapsed and splintered.
Cleanup was heart-wrenching. Especially when I put those horrid books onto a different cart and they were light as a feather.
I kept a splinter as a memento. I knew it was silly, but I loved that cart. I actually put it on the cart my next shift. I wasn't ready to let go. I accidentally bumped the cart (I wasn't used to the new wheels after months and months of the old one) into a corner, and the chip slid under a book. When I slid all the books back into position, the thick, hardcover novel on top of the chip seemed to be weightless.