Bookshop Memories


Human Nature and Concept of the Essay

  • Able to categorize people into groups, based upon what books they ordered
  • When they didn't come back, you could see that they were never interested

Concept: Reminiscence is part of the historical impulse to write

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The 2 motives used in the essay

Sheer Egoism:

  • Want other people to reminded of a wide and major significant point in your life, in order to be remembered

Aesthetic Enthusiasm:

  • Rich description of smells of books
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Answers to Key Questi

The Main point of the Essay is reminscining on the bookshop

The definition of the difference between the books people read and the books people buy:

  • That the books people read will be difference depending on their groups
  • People don't buy books with any intention of reading them

Orwell Classifies 'junk' as books that have no purpose or meaning towards him


  • Uses stories to reminisce on the old times, of how he was working in a bookshop, describing all these groups of people who weren't that great and that he had to put up with (demonstrates sheer egoism)
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Different types of people and how Orwell describes

Stamp Collectors: "Stamp-collectors are a strange, silent, fish-like breed"
"women, apparently, fail to see the peculiar charm of gumming bits of coloured paper into albums."
- Fish-like: strange, inhuman breed
- Stamp collectors lack human interaction, strange hobby

Horoscope readers
"Doubtless any horoscope seems ‘true’ if it tells you that you are highly attractive to the opposite sex and your worst fault is generosity."
Reader response:
- The kind of people that bother him the most
- It frustrates him how gullible some people can be

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Different types of people and how Orwell describes

Old ladies: "A nuisance anywhere but have special opportunities in the bookshop."
- Often come in with very specific demands/requests -- finds them annoying
- nuisance: unwanted, flies, something bothersome etc.
- Readers think Orwell is mean/unreasonable

"The decayed person smelling of old bread-crusts."
Reader response:
- We feel repulsed ourselves
- We start believing Orwell's argument that it is not nice to work in a bookshop

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Different types of people and how Orwell describes

Paranoiacs: "for their big talk there is something moth-eaten"
-decaying around the edges
-Dislikes them more intensely than the old ladies and sellers
-Makes them seem like a pest

Library subscribers: "A fair cross-section of London's reading public."
-Splits them by gender and talks about their literary interests
-People buy books to maintain appearances and reflect their hobbies/interests

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