The 7 Types of Characters You’ll Find in a Bookstore

 / / by Nathan Blansett, High School Correspondent / / 


Bookstores are the literal best, and for many, going to one is a sacred event. If you’re like me, your local bookstore is not just a place of book-buying. It’s more like adopting a child or converting to another religion: it’s an experience! The way most high school students fawn over J. Bieb’s new single is how I react when entering a bookstore. (OK, maybe not. Even I cannot deny the catchiness of Bieber’s latest Xmas album. His cover of “The Little Drummer Boy,” featuring the ever-talented Busta Rhymes, really changed how I listen to all Christmas music.)

After spending so much time in bookstores, I’ve come to notice that most people you find shopping in bookstores fall into one of seven different archetypes. Let’s explore these.


  1. The teen in the YA section.
    I guess these characters are the most obvious to me since I encounter them every day in English class. You know who I’m talkin’ about. She’s wishing her summer was more like a summer crafted by Sarah Dessen. If you see her holding a Nicholas Sparks novel, be aware that upon finishing it she will rent every movie based on one of his novels. She may also like a Facebook page titled, “Why Can’t More Men Be Like Channing Tatum in The Last Song?!”
  2. The person in the Romance section.
    I was at a nice restaurant a few weeks ago and was amazed to see the hostess visibly reading that esteemed BDSM exposé Fifty Shades of Grey. This debatable classic has taken everyone by storm. I was even more shocked when one of my friends posted a picture of the novel on her Instagram account, the caption declaring that it was her “favorite <3. I’ve come to the realization that, if you haven’t delved into this fine work of literature, you’re a square. Like, Pleasantville-esque square. So there you have it, folks. Check it out?
  3. The boy (or man) reading J. D.  Salinger.
    This past year in English class (everything comes backs to my freshman English class, I’m telling you), we had to a read a novel by a renowned author and do a research paper on it. Some guy in my class who never reads decided to check out The Catcher in the Rye. When I asked him if he liked it he said, with a glassy look in his eyes, that he “loooooved it.” (And yes, those extra Os were included). I was truly perplexed. I've observed this phenomenon elsewhere. I've come to believe that adolescent men don't actually come of age until they read their first Salinger piece. I think they identify with his angsty protagonists. (Whoa. I apologize if I just went all Freudian on you guys. But seriously...) There is also a 96% chance that this person will name their child “Franny” or “Zooey.”
  4. The college student writing on their Mac.
    (Let me prefix this with a note: THIS IS INSPIRED BY MY OWN ENVY.) To many of my generation, the act of owning a Mac instantly elevates your social status We high school students both revere and hate everybody who has one. This means that our trips to the bookstore are often laced with both admiration and pure, undiluted anger. If your local bookstore has a café, venture into it! You'll find this incredible species tapping away on their sleek computers, a worn copy of [insert novel by some French existentialist] at their side. They are some cool cats.
  5. That weird guy/bespectacled youth who looks at manga.
    I don’t think I need to elaborate.
  6. The person looking at knickknacks, board games, or “Grow Your Own Bonsai Tree!”
    “Hey, man. I went to the bookstore today.”
    “Neat! What’d you get?”
    “I got a kit on how to develop a Chinese water garden!”
    (NOTE: If you have ever been part of one of these conversations, know that I pray for you.)
  7. The pretentious teen who observes the type of people commonly found in bookstores and then proceeds to blog about it.
    (Crawls into corner, cries.)


Well, there you have it. If you don’t believe me, visit your nearest bookstore and see for yourself. I’m curious to see which archetype I will begin to fit as I get older. I think that, whether we like it or not, at some point we all fall into one of these bookstore stereotypes. I mean, I know I have! (I actually did buy a kit on how to develop a Chinese water garden once.) But to paraphrase an Indian man who wore nice white clothes, “Be the reader you wish to see in the world.”

All rights reserved to Nathan Blansett.

Illustrations by Hannah Watanabe-Rocco.

The Myth of Utopia

State (Fair) of the Arts