On our recent trip, I slipped into a few bookstores. One in particular left me feeling like I could have purchased another 15 books if only I wasn't already behind in my reading by about 15 books. I love the mad diversity in a modern bookstore and - from experience - have come to believe that there are an abundance of amazing books waiting for my attention. And these wonderfully full, bursting at the seams bookstores have begun to make me weary for the very reason that they once made me so happy: they simply have too many enticing titles.
Which brings me to my idea for bookstore. Rather than have thousands and thousands of titles, just have a bookstore titled, "The 5 Books You Have to Read." And then carry only five titles. If people come in asking for a different title, you simply say, "Have you read all five of our books?" If not (and that's usually the case), just redirect them to the short list. If they have, tell them to be patient - the list changes. Eventually. "Live. Don't just read," the clerk would tell them. "There will be a new book you simply have to read soon enough. Get caught up on your chores. Visit your old aunt. Hike through a copse of trees. Volunteer. And then come back in about a month. We'll have at least one new book on the list by then."
Oh, and how do we choose the five books? Don't even get me started on that. Because as soon as you make this part explicit, you get dragged into the whole business of whose list and why not another list and what about people who need large print or children or business majors or beach reading or .... And that's just the kind of confusion that leads to bookstores that - on a single day - stock more titles than you could hope to read in a lifetime. And my bookstore would put an end to that.