I don’t spend as much time browsing in bookstores as I used to, but I do look forward to the terrific used book sale held by the Shelter House here every year, with seemingly endless quantities of books. As the shelves get depleted, volunteers bring out more books to fill the spaces. The fiction is broken up by genre, and the non-fiction by topic. I love the book sale, but buying books, even when they’re cheap, is always such a gamble: just knowing the genre or topic is such a poor indicator of whether a book is worth reading. Every year, I think to myself: If only they divided them up by “Really Well-Written Books” and “All Others.” I’d be interested in just about anything in the first category, regardless of what it was about.
When I read about how the Common Core standards are leading textbook publishers (and therefore schools) to enforce specific ratios of non-fiction to fiction and poetry (to the disadvantage of the latter two, apparently), I have pretty much the same reaction. Not only does mandating a ratio seems patently silly, but that particular taxonomy doesn’t at all reflect what people who love to read actually value about reading. Something tells me I’d hate to see how the assigned readings in school break down between Really Well-Written Books and All Others.