From behind the counter, Shaun Bythell catalogs the customers who roam his shop in Wigtown, Scotland. There’s the Expert (divided into subspecies from the Bore to the Helpful Person), the Young Family (ranging from the Exhausted to the Aspirational), Occultists (from Conspiracy Theorist to Craft Woman).
Then there’s the Loiterer (including the Erotica Browser and the Self-Published Author), the Bearded Pensioner (including the Lyrca Clad), and the The Not-So-Silent Traveller (the Whistler, Sniffer, Hummer, Farter, and Tutter). Two bonus sections include Staff and, finally, Perfect Customer―all add up to one of the funniest book about books you’ll ever find. (taken from Amazon)
With a title like this, I just had to read Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops. This is a nonfiction written by someone whose profession affords him the excellent opportunity to people watch. As a bookseller, author Bythell has experienced all kinds of customers, and has sorted them into categories, easily explained and commented on.
This book was funny and snarky, although it segued into meanness every now and again. Categories such as “Genus: Peritas (Expert)” are sorted into sub-categories and described in hilarious detail. I have to apologetically admit to fitting neatly into the “Young Family” category: I truly do try to keep the fingerprints off of glass, though.
I found myself chuckling at some of the things the author notes. His ability to both poke fun at, and show appreciation for, all kinds of people was incredibly entertaining. I did feel that Bythell took things too far from time to time, particularly when discussing self-published authors. I’m sure his comments were made without malicious intent, but I did get a little annoyed on these authors’ behalf. Right when I was at my most ticked off, he mentioned a delightful encounter with a self-published author, smoothing my ruffled feathers a bit.
I didn’t love the book the way I was hoping, but I did find it to be a very diverting read. It’s a one-and-done sort of book, but those also have their place. Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops would be a great palette cleanser in-between books that require an emotional investment.