By Lucy M. Pritchett

Bookseller Rachel Brewer received a holiday bonus this year from an unexpected source.

Author James Patterson, a generous supporter of independent bookstores, gave $250,000 in holiday bonuses divided among 149 deserving independent bookstore employees. Rachel was one of two booksellers from Carmichael’s Bookstore to receive a bonus. (Shout-out to Jason Brown, the other bonus recipient.)

“I had no idea I’d even been nominated, and I still don’t know who sent in the entry essay as to why I deserved a holiday bonus,” Rachel says. “One day I just got an email from the American Booksellers Association telling me I had won.”

Nominations can come from a customer, fellow bookseller, store manager, or owner.

Rachel and her 2-year-old son Egon. Photos by Patti Hartog

Rachel, 35, has been with Carmichael’s for five years. She works at the Bardstown Road location and at Carmichael’s Kids just down the street. In addition to her bookseller duties, she orders the greeting cards for the store and organizes the requests for donations from area nonprofits.

“The customer needs are so different at each location,” Rachel says. “At the kids’ store I’m helping people shop. In the other store I’m usually helping them find the book they already know they want.”

Long before she settled down to selling books, Rachel spent three months living on her sister’s sailboat and cruising with that family throughout the Bahamas. “I lasted three months. It was close quarters, and taking care of the boat all the time is hard living.” (And there’s no room for books.)

I took a peek into her bookbag — every bookseller carries a bookbag — and found a copy of Land of Love and Ruins by Icelandic author Oddný Eir and A Bestiary by Lily Hoang.

In addition to books, What Works for Rachel are products to enhance her immune system, her lips, and her eyelashes.

Young Living essential oils
For Christmas my mom gave me a pack of five Young Living essential oils. My favorite is Thieves oil because it is supposed to ward off illness. It is a mixture of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary. I rub it on the bottoms of my feet. I use these oils in so many ways — in a diffuser, on my skin at acupressure points, in the bath, as aromatherapy. The case also contained essential oils of peppermint, frankincense, lavender, and oregano.

Badger Balm Lip Balm
Badger Balm is an unscented organic lip balm that I use year-round. I find it works the best for me and I keep it with me all the time. The company carries other moisturizer and healing balms, but I stick with the lip balm.

Clinique Lash Doubling mascara
When I was in high school my mom gave me Clinique Lash Doubling mascara, and I’ve used the brand ever since. It goes on easily and doesn’t leave any clumps. It does what you want a mascara to do — it makes my lashes look longer and thicker. A tube lasts me about six months.