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Barnes and Noble and Culture

Updated on March 18, 2013

I've spent a good three hours yesterday at a Barnes and Noble looking for a good LSAT book. While I was reading AHEM "skimming" the books, I've noticed that certain sections of the store were more visited by others. For example, the study aid sections had frequent visitors of young, healthy people who should be outside playing basketball but instead, because of their commitment to education, were forced to walk into this fine establishment and buy study guides. The fans of the study aids sections make good sense though; education is pivotal for success in the future. Some of the other frequently visited bookcases of Barnes and Noble are:

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1. Investment: the whats, whys and hows of stocks

2. Fitness: Eat, Exercise, and poop your intestines out complete with plenty of self motivating pictures of women and men with vegetable oil on steel abs

3. Beauty: Mostly huge books with pictures of pore-less women, wasted spilled powder placed aesthetically on a glass table, and more brushes than Picasso owns.

4. Magazines: A little bit of fitness, sports, cars, and beauty

5. The Self Help Section

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When my sister and I walked into Barnes and Noble, she pointed out the Self Help section, and I jokingly said, "Those books are for people who want to commit suicide". I apologize for my statement and retract it, because apparently, a lot of people visit that section. Later on, I went over to the section to check out the types books in that category out of curiosity for its popularity. The following are some of the titles of the Self Help section.

1. Organizing-For Dummies

2. The Depression book: Depression as an Opportunity for Spiritual Growth

3. Reclaiming Desire: 4 Keys to Finding Your Lost Libido

4. The Anger Workbook

5. Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

I was sorely depressed. Why do people feel the need to read these kinds of books? You can tell a lot about a culture by walking into a bookstore and see where people go. The self help section revealed a lot about our culture. There are enough depressed and self conscious people in America to read and find use in their books. This shouldn't be occurring for the following reasons:

1. The act of reading a Self-Help book is paradoxical. By going to a Barnes and Noble, sifting through books, then purchasing the books, you've demonstrated that you have the time and leisure to pick the book, and the resources to buy the book. What about the people living in environments with little to no resources; whose constant motivation in life is the motivation to live? By picking up and purchasing a self help book, you've essentially slapped their faces, because you are not enjoying your fantastic air-conditioned life, while they are constantly on the survival base.

2. The issues addressed by most Self-Help books are not usually crucial, life threatening situations. They are usually something relates to the inability to find love, find thyself, find achievement. If you know what Maslow's Hierarchy of needs are, the above needs are not vital for living. They are all psychological, and how well your reality matches your expectations. People need to understand one basic fact, and that is that people are naturally greedy beasts. The more you have, the more you want, and the smaller your bridge between the two are, the greater your happiness is. Which leads to my hypothesis that is

3. People are bored. Of a good life, that is. That's right, you, over there sitting in front of your computer reading this, you are bored of the wonderful life that our predecessors have given us. You are bored of Air Conditioning, of great food, and of fabulous clothing. People who read self help books are bored, because they naturally and societally are mechanized so that they constantly have to keep looking for something bad in themselves and environment to constantly improve. I think this is one of the reasons why the Human race has made it so far up; the cherry of the food chains. By the same clause, we are damned in our search for eternal happiness. The key to eternal happiness is to eternally minimize the gap between your expectations and your reality, but people cannot do that.

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Have you ever heard of the quote, "The sky is the limit"? Exactly. Eternal damnation. Let us make the best out of our human nature and constantly self improve so that 500 years later, our successors will be sitting in their personal air conditioned globe like the guy who lives in a ball from that movie. They would be scoffing at us, saying "I can't believe they've actually used air conditioning".


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    • quensday profile image

      quensday 9 years ago from New York

      Thanks for your input on this, SweetiePie. I agree with you in that many things are now soley out there to be marketed, and businesses do not consider the nuances and effects behind their actions as priorities. LOL @ the Barnes and Noble=Library point too ;D

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I agree with your observations about Barnes and Noble.  One time out of curiousity I was looking through the self-help section and I found that it was right next to the Starbucks where everyone could see people browsing.  If someone was shy and hesitant they might feel weird about perusing this section with others looking on.  Maybe it is just me, but I always felt like this section was on display for everyone to see.  I guess Barnes and Noble is hoping that having the self-help section in close proximity to the coffee shop will help to boost sales.  Amusingly I see people order coffee after coffee while reading the books and never purchasing certain ones as evidenced by the coffee stains on certain volumes.  Thanks for the interesting hub.