Belfast Telegraph

Paradise for book loving Aimee after bagging 'best job in world'

Aimee Johnston
Aimee Johnston
Aimee Johnston
The bookshop

By Stephanie Bell

A position advertised as "the best job in the world" - which went viral, attracting thousands of applications from across the globe - has been given to a Co Antrim woman.

Aimee Johnston (26) has swapped the rain and wind for the white sands and sunshine of the Maldives, where she has taken up the post of the islands' "barefoot bookseller".

The job in the luxury eco resort of Soneva Fushi in the exotic Indian Ocean destination was advertised online last year by hotel library curator company Ultimate Library.

Applications were invited from people with "a passion for books, the ability to engage guests of all ages", and who could entertain children with storytelling and host creative writing courses for guests.

The company said: "Our search for a 'barefoot bookseller' went viral and Aimee was chosen from thousands of applicants who applied for the job of a lifetime from all over the world last summer.

"We suspect more people were attracted to the 'unrivalled fringe benefits' than the 'derisory pay'."

Aimee, who has been given a sabbatical from her job in the publicity department of Penguin Random House Ireland to take up the post, heard that she had landed it at the start of the year.

She said: "I'm over the Moon to be Ultimate Library and Soneva Fushi's next barefoot bookseller.

"It's one thing to wake up in paradise every day, but to get to work in one of the world's most beautiful bookshops? That's a dream come true.

"I saw the original job posting on Book Brunch, a publishing industry magazine.

"I applied quite quickly, but pretty soon the job posting went viral! There were several interview stages and some creative tasks set along the way. I found out I got the job in early January this year and it was a huge surprise. I kept rechecking the email to make sure I hadn't imagined it.

"I've been in the bookshop since the beginning of March and I've loved every minute of it so far.

"The bookshop itself is gorgeous and our titles are carefully curated by Ultimate Library to meet the reading needs of the resort's guests.

"We have a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles, a great selection of books on art and well-being, as well as an impressive collection on wildlife and nature, which speaks to the immediate environment of the Maldives."

The bookshop took months of planning and construction and is built in a gorgeous dome-like structure next to the water.

Guests of the resort are now able to buy the perfect accompaniment for their holidays - the ultimate reading recommendation personally selected by resident bookseller Aimee.

Aimee said books have always been a very big part of her life and that her parents instilled a love of reading in her from a young age.

She added: "At one stage my mum got in touch with Libraries NI and they started sending a library van out to our area. I remember how amazing it was, to have so many books to choose from.

"I was also very lucky in secondary school to have the most incredible English teachers. They discussed fiction with such passion; it sparked a desire in me to study English literature in college."

Aimee's dream job is for just temporary, after which she will return to her work in Dublin.

She added: "I'll be here for three months to work as the barefoot bookseller in the pop-up barefoot bookshop and in that time I'll try to see as much of the Maldives as I can.

"After that, I am very much remaining in the book world.

"I'll be returning to Dublin and jumping right back into my role as Press officer with Penguin Random House Ireland."

Aimee's adventure in the Maldives can be followed on her blog at barefootbookseller.com and on Instagram.

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