Expanding Bookstore Genres for the Modern World: Addressing Contemporary Issues Through Literature
From Mental Health to AI Ethics: How Bookstores Can Meet the Needs of Today's Readers
When one walks into any bookstore, regardless of the country, they are likely to come across the ‘self-help’ section, with the usual suspects such as ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, and ‘Think and Grow Rich’ lining the shelves. Further down, they may encounter the ‘romance’ section, as well as ‘fantasy’ and ‘teen’ sections among others.
Of course, this is understandable as these genres sell well. Bookstores, as for-profit businesses, must do what they can to entice people to purchase books, especially in a world that has an inherent aversion to reading.
Personally, I enjoy visiting bookstores as it is a pleasurable albeit expensive hobby. It affords me the opportunity to peruse the latest releases, observe what people are currently reading, and perhaps stumble upon my next favourite book of the year.
Yet, visiting a bookstore is more than a leisurely pursuit. It is a place where individuals seek solutions to their problems and are reminded of the important things in life. In today's world, we are grappling with novel issues that require our immediate attention. Some of these problems are unprecedented and urgent, while others have always been important and demand our attention more than ever. Unfortunately, bookstores are ill-equipped to assist individuals in understanding and dismantling these multifaceted issues.
There is nothing inherently flawed about having sections such as ‘self-help’ or ‘romance’ in a bookstore. However, there is an undeniable need for bookstores to expand and modernise their genre offerings to address the complex issues that society faces today.
This article aims to present ten crucial genres that every bookstore worldwide should have in their inventory. If these suggestions resonate with you, please share this article with your local bookstore. Conversely, if you own a bookstore, I urge you to seriously consider these recommendations. As a devoted book lover, I believe bookstores play a significant role in our communities, and I sincerely wish for their continued success. These suggestions stem not from a position of elitism but from a lifelong customer who values the vitality of bookstores.
The question remains, however, whether these suggested genres will generate interest and sell. The answer to that is nuanced and depends on a variety of factors, including effective placement and advertisement within the store, outreach programs, and support from influential figures in the book industry.
Without further ado, let us delve into these genres. It should be noted that the following genres are listed in no particular order of importance, and can be read in any sequence.
1. Helping Others
The Helping Others genre is one that I believe is sorely needed in bookstores today. This genre would include books that inspire and empower readers to make a positive difference in the world around them. From personal stories of triumph over adversity to practical guides on how to volunteer and make an impact in your community, this genre would offer readers the tools they need to take action and create a better world.
In a time when so many people feel helpless and overwhelmed by the challenges facing our world, the Helping Others genre offers hope and inspiration. Reading these books can help readers see that they are not alone in their desire to make a difference, and that there are concrete steps they can take to create positive change. By highlighting the stories of individuals and organisations that are already making a difference, these books can motivate and inspire readers to get involved themselves.
But the Helping Others genre is not just about inspiring readers; it's also about providing them with practical guidance and resources. Books in this genre can offer tips on how to volunteer, donate, and advocate effectively. They can provide guidance on how to start a community organisation or a social justice campaign. And they can offer insights on how to overcome the obstacles that often stand in the way of taking action. By equipping readers with the tools they need to create change, the Helping Others genre can be a powerful force for good in our world.
“Every bookstore has a ‘self-help‘ section, when what we really need is a ‘help others’ section” - Simon Sinek
2. Mental Health
The Mental Health genre is one that I strongly believe should be added to bookstores everywhere. While there have been attempts by certain bookstores to add this genre and feature it prominently in their bookstores, I believe we still have a long way to go for making this commonplace.
This genre would include books on a wide range of mental health topics, from anxiety and depression to trauma and addiction. By providing readers with access to accurate and reliable information on mental health issues, this genre can help to reduce stigma, increase understanding, and improve the lives of millions of people.
One of the key benefits of the Mental Health genre is that it can help to break down the barriers that often prevent people from seeking help for mental health issues. Many people feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their mental health struggles, and may be hesitant to seek professional help. But by providing readers with access to information on mental health topics in a safe and private setting, the Mental Health genre can help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and encourage people to seek help when they need it.
In addition to reducing stigma, the Mental Health genre can also provide readers with practical tools and strategies for managing their mental health. Books in this genre can offer advice on coping with stress, building resilience, and improving self-care. They can provide guidance on how to navigate the mental health system and access appropriate care. And they can offer insights on how to support loved ones who may be struggling with mental health issues. By providing readers with these resources, the Mental Health genre can be a powerful force for promoting mental wellness and improving the lives of millions of people.
"Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others." - Parker Palmer
3. Climate Change
I don’t think I need to venture too much into emphasising the importance of this genre. If it isn’t obvious to you already, then you have a lot of catching up to do. The effects of climate change are now featuring so prominently in our lives, that the audacity of certain people to deny it truly baffles me.
This genre would include books on the science of climate change, its impacts, and what we can do to address it. By raising awareness and providing readers with the knowledge they need to take action, the Climate Change genre can play a critical role in the fight against global warming.
One of the key benefits of the Climate Change genre is that it can help to bridge the gap between science and public opinion. While the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and caused by human activities, there is still a lot of misinformation and confusion in the public sphere. By providing readers with access to accurate and up-to-date information on climate change, the Climate Change genre can help to dispel myths and increase understanding of this critical issue.
Books in this genre can offer practical advice on how individuals can reduce their carbon footprint, from simple changes like reducing meat consumption and using public transportation, to larger efforts like installing solar panels or joining a climate advocacy group.
They can also offer insights on how to engage in political action and hold elected officials accountable for their climate policies. By providing readers with the knowledge and tools they need to take action, the Climate Change genre can be a powerful force for promoting sustainability and protecting the planet for future generations.
"Climate change is a global problem. The planet is warming because of the growing level of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. If this trend continues, truly catastrophic consequences are likely to ensue from rising sea levels, to reduced water availability, to more heat waves and fires." - David Suzuki
4. AI Ethics
The AI Ethics genre is one that is becoming increasingly important as artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more integrated into our daily lives. This genre would include books on the ethical implications of AI, including issues such as privacy, bias, and accountability. With the rise of AI-powered technologies such as ChatGPT, it's essential that we have a better understanding of the ethical considerations surrounding these systems.
One of the key benefits of the AI Ethics genre is that it can help to ensure that AI is developed and used in a way that is responsible and ethical. As AI becomes more sophisticated, there is a growing risk that these systems may be used to infringe on our privacy, perpetuate bias, or cause harm. By providing readers with a framework for thinking about these issues and highlighting the potential risks of AI, the AI Ethics genre can help to prevent these negative outcomes.
In addition to raising awareness about the ethical implications of AI, the AI Ethics genre can also help to shape the development of these technologies. Books in this genre can offer guidance on how to design AI systems that are transparent, accountable, and free from bias. They can also offer insights on how to ensure that AI is developed in a way that is respectful of human dignity and rights. By providing a roadmap for the ethical development of AI, the AI Ethics genre can help to ensure that these systems are developed and used in a way that benefits society as a whole.
As LLM technologies such as ChatGPT continue to evolve and become more integrated into our lives, it's essential that we have a better understanding of the ethical implications of these systems. The AI Ethics genre can play a critical role in ensuring that AI is developed and used in a way that is responsible, ethical, and beneficial to society.
"Ethics must be an integral part of any AI system from start to finish. From the way data is collected and used, to the design and development of algorithms, to the deployment and monitoring of AI systems in the real world, ethical considerations must be at the forefront of decision-making." - Fei-Fei Li
5. Modern Finance
Of my many complaints about the current state of our education systems, the complete lack of financial education certainly takes centerstage. The absence of financial education is the root of many evils in society and its high time we begin to address it.
This genre would include books on a range of financial topics, from personal finance and investing to new technologies such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs. By providing readers with access to accurate and reliable information on these topics, the Modern Finance genre can help to promote financial literacy and empower individuals to make informed decisions about their finances.
One of the key benefits of the Modern Finance genre is that it can help to demystify new and emerging financial technologies such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs. These technologies have the potential to revolutionise the way we think about and interact with money, but they can also be complex and intimidating for many people. By providing clear explanations and practical advice on how to use these technologies, the Modern Finance genre can help to make them more accessible and understandable to a wider audience.
The Modern Finance genre is also about promoting financial literacy and responsible money management. Books in this genre can offer practical advice on how to create a budget, save for retirement, and manage debt. They can provide guidance on how to invest wisely and avoid common financial pitfalls. And they can offer insights on how to navigate the ever-changing financial landscape and make informed decisions about your money. By providing readers with these resources, the Modern Finance genre can be a powerful force for promoting financial wellness and empowering individuals to take control of their finances.
"Finance is not merely about making money. It's about achieving our deep goals and protecting the fruits of our labor. It's about stewardship and, therefore, about achieving the good society." - Robert J. Shiller
6. How-To for Startups
The How-To for Startups genre is a must-add for any modern bookstore. With the rise of entrepreneurship and innovation in the digital age, more and more people are looking to start their own businesses and turn their ideas into reality.
This genre would include books that offer practical guidance and advice on every aspect of starting and running a business, from ideation and funding to marketing and scaling. By providing readers with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in the world of startups, the How-To for Startups genre can be a powerful force for driving innovation and economic growth.
One of the key benefits of the How-To for Startups genre is that it can help to demystify the startup process and provide clear guidance on how to navigate the new age challenges and opportunities that entrepreneurs face today.
For example, books in this genre can offer practical advice on how to incorporate AI and other new technologies into your business strategy. They can also provide insights on how to leverage social media and other digital platforms to reach customers and build your brand. By providing readers with these tools and insights, the How-To for Startups genre can help to level the playing field and empower anyone with a great idea to start and grow their own business.
In addition to providing practical guidance on how to start and run a business, the How-To for Startups genre can also offer inspiration and motivation for aspiring entrepreneurs. Books in this genre often feature stories and case studies of successful startups and their founders, providing a window into the real-world challenges and triumphs of entrepreneurship. By sharing these stories and offering a roadmap for success, the How-To for Startups genre can help to inspire and empower the next generation of innovators and change-makers.
"Startups are the lifeblood of innovation and progress. They are the engines of job creation, economic growth, and social change. By bringing new ideas, products, and services to market, startups push the boundaries of what is possible and create a better future for all." - Brad Feld
7. Physical Fitness
With the rise of work-from-home jobs and sedentary lifestyles, many people are finding it difficult to maintain their physical health and fitness. I am most certainly one of them.
This genre would include books that offer practical advice and guidance on everything from exercise and nutrition to mindfulness and stress reduction. By promoting physical fitness and overall wellness, the Physical Fitness genre can help to improve not only our physical health but our mental health as well.
One of the key benefits of the Physical Fitness genre is its ability to improve mental health. Studies have shown that regular exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve overall mood and cognitive function. Books in this genre can offer practical advice on how to incorporate exercise and physical activity into your daily routine, as well as mindfulness and stress reduction techniques to help manage the stresses of everyday life. By promoting a holistic approach to health and wellness, the Physical Fitness genre can be a powerful force for improving mental health and well-being.
"Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity." - John F. Kennedy
8. Digital Minimalism
I am addicted to technology. You are addicted to technology. We are all addicted to technology. Acceptance is the first step and it is about time we start to do something about it.
Coined by author Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism is a philosophy and lifestyle that advocates for using technology in a more intentional and mindful way. This genre would include books that offer practical advice on how to embrace digital minimalism and reduce our reliance on technology.
One of the key benefits of the Digital Minimalism genre is its ability to improve our mental health and well-being. Studies have shown that excessive use of technology can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Books in this genre can offer practical advice on how to reduce our digital footprint, set boundaries around our technology use, and create space for more meaningful and fulfilling activities in our lives. By promoting a more intentional and mindful approach to technology, the Digital Minimalism genre can help to improve our overall quality of life and reduce the negative impact of technology on our mental health.
In addition to its mental health benefits, the Digital Minimalism genre can also help us to be more productive and focused in our daily lives. With so many distractions and notifications vying for our attention, it's easy to become overwhelmed and lose sight of our goals and priorities.
Books in this genre can offer practical advice on how to declutter our digital lives, streamline our workflows, and focus on the things that truly matter. By promoting a more intentional and mindful approach to technology, the Digital Minimalism genre can help us to achieve our goals and be more present and engaged in our daily lives.
"Digital minimalism definitely does not reject the innovations of the internet era, but instead rejects the way so many people engage with these tools. It is about applying minimalist principles to our use of technology in order to maximise its benefits while minimising its drawbacks." - Cal Newport
9. The Simple Life
The Simple Life genre is becoming increasingly popular in a world where materialism and consumerism often dominate our lives. The idea behind this genre is to promote a simpler, more intentional way of living that prioritises experiences over possessions and emphasises the importance of mindfulness and self-care. Books in this genre would offer practical advice on how to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, reduce clutter, and focus on the things that truly matter.
One of the key benefits of the Simple Life genre is its ability to improve our mental health and well-being. Living in a cluttered and chaotic environment can lead to stress, anxiety, and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Books in this genre can offer practical advice on how to declutter our physical spaces and simplify our lives, leading to a more peaceful and calm state of mind. By promoting a simpler and more intentional way of living, the Simple Life genre can help us to reduce stress and anxiety, and cultivate a greater sense of well-being.
"Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants." - Epictetus
10. Modern Relationships
In a world where social connections and support systems are becoming increasingly rare, this is a must-have genre. It can offer insights into both romantic and non-romantic relationships, including friendship, family, and community, and provides practical advice on how to build and maintain meaningful connections with others.
One of the key benefits of the Modern Relationships genre is its ability to address the pandemic of loneliness that is currently affecting many people around the world. By promoting healthy and fulfilling relationships, this genre can help us to feel more connected, supported, and fulfilled in our daily lives. Books in this genre can offer practical advice on how to build and maintain relationships, overcome common challenges, and cultivate greater empathy and understanding with others.
In addition to its focus on social connections, the Modern Relationships genre can also offer valuable insights into romantic relationships and the challenges and opportunities that come with them. It can offer practical advice on how to navigate the complexities of modern dating and relationships, as well as how to build stronger and more fulfilling partnerships.
"Connection is why we're here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it, there is suffering." - Brené Brown
No, this is NOT an exhaustive list of genres we need to add to the bookstores. I am sure there are a hundred other upgrades that we can make in this regard. If you have any recommendations, feel free to leave them in the comments below. I will be happy to add them to the list for a later article.