A Translation Guide to Common Bookseller Answers

On the store's blog, Matt Nixon of The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, Tenn., offers a translation guide for bookseller answers to common questions. In his quest to match readers with the right book, Nixon navigates a minefield of personal tastes, at times deflecting or leaving things unsaid to avoid treating someone's favorite author like the "neighborhood opossum, unwelcome in even our trash can."

Question: "Have you read this book?"

Answer: "Yes" or "I did."
Translation: [with no additional context or qualifiers] "I didn't like it." (Note: If the book is one we liked, we'll volunteer more information. If it's one we really liked, we'll likely begin effusing or issuing declarations like "you want that book" or offering unequivocal praise like "oh, you picked a good one!" Booksellers love to talk about books they loved. If they liked a book you're considering, you'll know it.)

Answer: "I did. It was good, but not for everyone."
Translation: "I liked it, but I'm warning you: it's weird/disturbing/violent/difficult/impolitic/etc."

Answer: "Yeaaaaaaa-uh. It was... interesting... not for everyone...."
Translation: "It was definitely not for me or for anyone I call a friend."

Answer: "No, I haven't."
Translation: "No. And I have absolutely no plans to."

Answer: "It's been in my 'to-read' pile and I just haven't gotten around to it."
Translation: "I want to read it and I think I would recommend it, but I haven't actually read it. Read it and tell me if it needs to move to the top of the pile or if it should be banished from this exalted spot."

Question: "Do you know anything about this book?"

Answer: "No. I really don't...."
Translation: "Never seen it before." or "I've seen it, but never seen anyone buy it."

Answer: "It's been popular, but I haven't really heard anything about it."
Translation: "It's a book many have bought, but no one has liked enough to ever mention it again."

Answer: "People seem to love it...."
Translation: "Lots of people are buying it. They seem excited about it." or "Those who've read it seem to really love it."

Answer: "It's been popular. You'll likely enjoy it if you like that kind of thing."
Translation: "I don't read ‘that kind of thing'. Those who do are buying it."

Answer: "I've read it."
Translation: [if unaccompanied by additional qualifiers or explanation] "I've read it. Don't."

Answer: "Yes. I actually read that."
Translation: "I didn't hate it."

Answer: "Yes. It's a good one."
Translation: "Yes. It's a good one."

Answer: "Yes. It was really terrific, if you're into that kind of thing. It's not for everyone."
Translation: "It was terrific, but I'm warning you, you may not be into 'that kind of thing' and 'that kind of thing' may be disturbing or confusing or nonsensical to you. I'm warning you."

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