"Is this any good?" the customer asked, indicating The Spiderwick Chronicles
"Yes," I said, "it's very popular with older primary students -- the ones who've read all of Emily Rodda and want something more."
"But it's a fiction-type book, right?" she said, "not like Harry Potter?"
I never make up my retail stories. It would spoil the fun for everyone. For some reason, children's fiction seemed to be attracting people today. For example:
"Hi, I'm looking for the Fudge books."
"Oh, Judy Blume!" I said, with the pleasure of one who is about to inflict her childhood favourites on a total stranger.
"Yes," said the customer, "that's her name! It's about a girl named Judy and her little brother Fudge."
The customer is always right, except when they're dead wrong.
"No," I said, in my most diplomatic tone of voice, "Judy Blume's the author. You might be thinking of the Judy Moody
"There's no such person as Judy Blume!" the customer snapped. "That's the character
. Someone else
writes the books."
"Well," I said, "we do have a couple of the Fudge books. Come this way."
I led her over to the shelves, and put a copy of Fudge-a-mania
in her hands. The words By Judy Blume
were printed in large, bright green letters.
"There," the customer said, "I told you so."
Ever since I saw Black Books
, I've been totally unable to sell The Little Book of Calm
with a straight face.
That I ever could sell The Little Book of Calm
with a straight face speaks, I think, to my high standards of professionalism.
Last week, I sold a copy of Belle de Jour's The Intimate Adventures of a London Call-Girl
with the promise that it was a brilliant book, and the TV series was even better. I was, I would like to point out, only half lying. The TV series is
Some books I have left unfinished, for varying reasons:Diana
by Sarah Bradford - a well-researched, unsensational and fair biography of the late Princess of Wales. Abandoned because it was too depressing (and, irrationally, because Diana and my mother looked alike when they were young, and it's a bit distressing).
Fannish compulsions drive me to point out that the author is Lalla Ward's sister-in-law.Stormbreaker
by Anthony Horowitz - teen spy thriller for the Stu-tolerant. Another notch down in my attempts to read the big
teen novels. Abandoned because the main character was too Stu-tastic even for me, the female characters were all stereotypes (and mostly absent), the most interesting character was dead before the story began. I nearly continued, to see if the homo-eroticism in the Big Tense Snooker Game (sticks! balls! scoring!) had any payoff, but the chance seemed too narrow.Chain of Hearts
by Maureen McCarthy - another teen novel, about family secrets, guilt and lies. Abandoned because it seemed unlikely the book would end with a temporal cataclysm wiping the entire cast of characters out of history, never to darken my door again.
Life's too short for bad books. Unless I'm the one selling them.