Fidra asks: What ten books would you love to see in a bookshop?

Eoin Purcell

Fidra Books posted a query on their blog today designed to help them figure out what books to order for their new store:

We’re resigned to the fact that we will open with a stock that has gaps and biases and it would be hard not to – this can be rectified in the next few months as we discover our customers’ tastes – but in an attempt to be more balanced we’d like you, our lovely blog-readers, to make some suggestions in the comments section below as to say, your top ten books that you’d love to see in a bookshop.

I loved the challenge this presented and so I went to work straight away, this is what came up with!

In an vain attempt to spread my bets and make sure I cover as many bases as possible I think this list may well get a bit rickety but here goes! In no order particularly:

    1) AJP Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War (for the thinking general history reader, this will launch them on the path of a thousand questions)

    2) Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Civilizations or Millennium (in terms of broad brush history of the epic kind, you’d be hard pressed to find better than these)

    3) Mark Kurlansky, The Basque History of the World (a travelogue, a cookbook, a history and all wrapped in the neatest little package, sweet as)

    4) Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination (clever science fiction for the fan who hasn’t yet mined the Science fiction cannon)

    5) Stephanie Swainston, No Present Like Time (genre bending, adventure and all with an inconstant narrator, boy does Steph write fantasy well)

    6) Ernest Hemmingway, The Old Man & The Sea (maybe its a guy thing, but this may well be one of the few fiction books I can stand to re-read)

    7) Evelyn Waugh, Sword of Honour Trilogy (yes this cheating slightly because its a trilogy but lordy this is great writing)

    8) Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome And the End of Civilization (this revives the full horror and the depth of the tragedy that was the end of the Roman empire, and moves the debate on from the hole I believe it fell into by trying to pass the collapse of Rome off as merely change rather than regression)

    9) Robert Cooper, The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century (a nicely thought through book on the global political lanscape, not as radical as any of the Kagan books [Paradise and Power/The Return of History and the End of Dreams] but better for that)

    10) William A. Draves & Julie Coates, Nine Shift (one of the most prescient and forward thinking books, I have ever read. Calmly and plainly explains where the world is going, why and looks at how it will change society utterly. A great book)

Two notes. Children’s books from picture books, to fiction, Food & Drink, Sport, Modern Fiction and quite a few other topics got a raw deal here but that’s the nature of top 10 lists. The last space took some time deciding.

I think it’s a good list!
Eoin

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4 comments

  1. I think no matter what a reader’s tastes, no book shop would be complete without “Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s pretty much an ode to books and book lovers 🙂

  2. Nice idea. is it tragic of me to admit i do the ‘Richard Yates test’ in *every* *single* bookstore I visit to see how many of his books they have? It has somewhat lost its insightfulness since Revolutionary Road became such a mainstream hit with the film though!

    Completely agree with number 4. I don’t do Sci-Fi. At all, ever. No Hitch-hikers, no P K Dick, no nothing. But The Stars My Destination was pretty awesomee! And I love those re-issued Gollancz masterworks covers, they look so non-sci fi that it just about makes it bearable 🙂 Why do they have to ruin Sci-fi covers with drawings of weird aliens and spaceships??

    1. Yes those masterworks are nice indeed!

      I agree with you in some respects, though for the military sci-fi it tends to work to have nice ship on it.

      As a devotee of the genre, it bothers me not a whit though I’ll read even the oddest looking cover if I think the book is worth it!
      Eoin

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