The List: Things people say in bookshops

A short selection from a newly published collection of the best conversations from around the world

Jen Campbell started her blog “Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops” three years ago. A collection of the best conversations from the blog, from bookstores round the world, is published this week. Here is a short selection.

1. Customer: I read a book in the 1960s. I don’t remember the author, or the title. But it was green and it made me laugh. Do you know which one I mean?

2. Customer: Do you have that book – I forget what it’s called; it’s about people with large, hairy feet.

Bookseller: Do you mean hobbits? The Lord of the Rings?

Customer: No … erm, the Hairy Bikers.

3. Customer: My children are climbing your bookshelves. That’s OK, isn’t it? They won’t topple over, will they?

4. Customer: Do you have a copy of Nineteen Eighty-Six?

Bookseller: Nineteen Eighty-Six?

Customer: Yeah, Orwell.

Bookseller: Oh – Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Customer: No, I’m sure it’s Nineteen Eighty-Six; I’ve always remembered it because it’s the year I was born.

5. Customer: Have you got Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence?

Bookseller (pulling the book off the shelf): Sure. That will be £5.99 please.

Customer: Hasn’t he written anything cheaper?

6. Customer: Do you have a book that lists the weather forecasts for the rest of the year?

7. Customer (pointing at Perdido Street Station by China Miéville): Excuse me, how do you pronounce this writer’s name?

Bookseller: Well, I’ve heard people say Mee-ville, but I think, because of the accent, it’s Me-eh-vllle.

Customer: No, I mean his first name.

Bookseller: Well, it’s, China – like the country.

Customer: The country?

8. Customer: Do you have any books on the story of Easter?

Bookseller: I’m sure we do, yes.

Customer: Excellent. Something with lots of chicks and rabbits would be great, thanks.

9. Customer: Do you have this children’s book I’ve heard about? It’s supposed to be very good. It’s called “Lionel Richie and the Wardrobe”.

10. Customer: I’m looking for a biography to read that’s really interesting. Could you recommend one?

Bookseller: Sure. What books have you read and liked?

Customer: Well, I really loved Mein Kampf.

Bookseller: …

Customer: “Loved” is probably not the right word.

Bookseller: Probably not.

Customer: “Liked” is probably better. Yes. I liked it a lot.

From ‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’ by Jen Campbell (Constable, £7.99)

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