A Boy Called Too Much Information

I had a wander round WH Smiths this lunchtime. It’s the only place that sells books in Didcot, though half of them are all dusty and battered from being on the shelf too long, and they’ve got a distubing fixation with Kerry Katona.

They also sort their books into categories like this:

which I feel is taking genre specificity a little too far. There was a whole wall of them, all with titles like A Life, Abandoned, and Why Did You Do It, Daddy?

I don’t want to know why Daddy Did It. I’m sure it’s cathartic to relive your awful childhood in print, but making everyone else read it in such eye-watering detail is just plain ghoulish. Of course, nobody should be ignorant of serious issues like child abuse – that’s why the NSPCC does such a sterling job – but don’t wallow in it. If you’re the sort of person who reads so much of this stuff that WH Smith has to create a new bookshelf label just to accommodate you, then for heaven’s sake go and read some Bill Bryson. Or e.e. cummings. Or Hilary Mantel. Or anyone else who knows how to make the written word (and by extension, the reader) soar to great heights instead of rolling around continually in its seedy depths.

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