Build a Bookstore: Books for Adults

Alison Morris - December 5, 2008

What books for "grown-ups" should no self-respecting bookstore be without? I said this post would go up on Friday, and it is technically still Friday! (At least, it is for another 10 minutes…) It’s just much later in the day on Friday than I’d planned to be posting. As for WHY this post has been delayed by 15 or so hours, I plead "holiday retail" which is what vaporized 12 hours of my day (no exaggeration). As my apology gift to those of you who’ve been patiently waiting to list your favorite adult titles here, I’m going to allow you to list up to TEN books for today’s category! Yes, TEN!

So, again: What books for "grown-ups" should no self-respecting bookstore be without? You tell me. This week we’ve covered books for teens, middle grade readers, the picture book-age crowd, and wee ones. Now it’s the grown-ups’ turn.

You’re opening a bookstore: what are the first few adult books you’re going to put on your stock list (fiction, non-fiction, poetry — anything)? You are allowed to name up to TEN titles and you are allowed to name the same books that someone else has. But, sorry authors, you are NOT allowed to promote your own titles here. Except for you, Jane Austen.

Tell us booksellers what titles you want/EXPECT to see on our shelves. To get you started I will now attempt to assemble my own list of ten chosen-almost-at-random-from-hundreds-of-possibilities-at-a-VERY-late-hour suggestions here:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (which, like Goodnight Moon, should come pre-installed when you order store fixtures)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving
The Dubliners by James Joyce
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
The Letters of E. B. White
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
 by William Styron
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder

And now, my patient friends, it’s YOUR turn. Have at it. First, though, I’d just like to say that you’ve been firing off some truly fantastic recommendations all week. I can’t wait to see what you come up with for this one!

8 thoughts on “Build a Bookstore: Books for Adults

  1. Julianne Daggett

    The Odyssey (ancient classic), Pride and Prejudice (19th Century Classic), The Great Gatsby (20th Century Classic), The Lord of the Rings (Fantasy), Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Science-Fiction), Leaves of Grass (poetry), The Poems of Emily Dickenson (poetry), Team of Rivals (history) and Chicken Soup (self-help).

  2. Joyce Stengel

    If Kisses were Colors by Janet Lawler is the all time favorite of my granddaughter. When it’s story time, she insists on “Kisses.” Because of her delight in the book, I’ve sent it to my daughter’s friends when they have a baby. It soon becomes a favorite with their little ones, too .

  3. Cathe Olson

    Everything by John Steinbeck, The Accidental Tourist, Peace Like a River, Case Histories, Jesus Land, Everything by Louise Erdich, definitely A Walk in the Woods by Bryson . . . I know there’s more but that’s all I can think of.

  4. katie leonard

    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger; East of Eden by John Steinbeck; To Kill a Mockingbird; The Great Gatsby; Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner; The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver; Empire Falls by Richard Russo; Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris; and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

  5. tim b

    Two Austens: P&P and PERSUASION; Jared Diamond’s GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL; that recent, fancypants slipcased Darwin anthology; the Bible; complete Shakespeare; Robert Fagles’ ILIAD and ODYSSEY translations; Italo Calvino’s INVISIBLE CITIES; and whatever the latest Murakami novel might happen to be. Loads more, obviously, but I’d distrust any bookstore whose stock didn’t include these.

  6. Sarah Rakes



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