English Language Blog

At the Bookstore – Nonfiction Posted by on Aug 22, 2016 in Culture, English Language, English Vocabulary


At the Bookstore - Nonfiction

At the Bookstore – Nonfiction


If you are looking for a specific book, or even just something you’d like to read, it would help to know the various categories that bookstores use for shelving their products.

Walk into a typical bookstore and you will always be faced with aisles upon aisles of shelves of books. Some books will be placed with the cover facing out, so that you can read the complete front of the book, and others will be placed spine out, so that you will only be able to read the title of the book and its author. Usually, the bestsellers will be cover-out, and there will be stacks, or displays of them in more than one location in the bookstore.

Almost every store has three main categories of books in different locations on the sales floor – Nonfiction, Fiction, and Children’s. You will then find those sections of the bookstore divided into sub-categories, and then within those sub-categories will be more specific micro-categories. Many visitors to a bookstore always head to one part of the store, knowing that the books they usually like to read are in that area. Let’s take a peek into all three major locations of the bookstore and browse through the categories on the shelves, beginning with…


Antiques and Collectibles – Everything you need to know about all the things that people collect, from dolls to guns to stamps.

Art – Artists, art history, architecture, art criticism, how-to, painting, photography, sculpture. It’s all here!

Autobiography and Biography – Here you’ll learn about the famous, the notorious, and ordinary people with extraordinary stories. This is also where you’ll find memoirs, currently a very popular category often dealing with personal struggle.

Business – Investing, professional guidance, and tales of success, failure, and perseverance are waiting for you in this aisle.

Crafts and Hobbies – All the various ways that people find to be creative are covered in this section, from knitting to model airplanes and railroads, to woodworking. Origami, anyone?

Education – Here you’ll find teaching aids and study guides for all kinds of tests. Guides to selecting colleges are in this aisle. This is also where you may also books on computers and other professional studies.

Entertainment – This is a very mixed variety of topics. You’ll find books on performing arts, like acting and songwriting, alongside books about your favorite movies and television shows. You should also look here for sheet music and plays.

Food and Wine – This category covers cookbooks, instruction on wine and beer making, and writing on the history and culture of what we eat and drink.

Games – If you are a video game player, or your taste runs more to crossword puzzles and scrabble, this section will have what you need.

Gardening – No matter if you need a book on landscape design, how to tell a rose from a nasturtium, or what bug is eating your fruit trees; you’ll look down this aisle.

Health and Fitness – Beauty tips, exercise and diet books, pregnancy and childbirth, vitamins, and medical help can be found here.

History – Looking to learn more about the Paris riots of 1968, Australia’s founding, or the Cold War? Head down this aisle. This is also where you should look for information on Politics, unless it’s a specific political figure, then head to Biography and Autobiography.

House and Home – Do you need to learn how to refinish your wood floors, decorate your bedroom, or even build a new home from the foundation to the roof? Everything from floor plans to color schemes is here.

Humor – This is the place for collections from comic strips and the best writing of humorists.

Languages – All foreign language studies and disciplines are covered in this section. You’ll also find books on braille, sign language, and linguistics. This category is often paired with Reference.

Literature Studies – Often paired with Poetry, this is where you’ll learn about great authors, literary periods, and genres.

Nature and Science – From astronomy to zoology, bird watching to climate change, or dinosaurs and mushrooms, this category covers a massive range of subjects.

Pets – You might want to know how to train your dog to fetch your slippers, learn how to ride a horse, look at silly kitties, or read the stories of some people whose lives were forever changed by a four-legged friend. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll want to go to the nearest animal shelter after visiting this section.

Politics – Often paired with History. This is also the place to find analysis about current, and would-be, world leaders.

Reference – Often paired with Languages, everything from maps, writing skills, quotations and consumer guides are found down this aisle.

Religion – Information on all the faiths, and other philosophies, will be located here. Many books of worship and inspiration are also down this aisle.

Self-Help – As the category name implies, this is where you’ll find answers to problems which afflict you or someone you care about. Motivational books, which are quite popular, will be found here.

Social Science – This is where you’ll look for information regarding all manner of social studies, and most of the “ology” disciplines (anthropology, sociology, gerontology, etc.).

Sports – Hint: This category is alphabetized. So, Baseball comes before Basketball. In the U.S., Football refers to American football, so books on the World Cup will be found under soccer.

Travel – Usually, this category is divided into local, national, and then international sections. In the U.S., that would be city, state, and region before other states and countries. Great books of essays and travelogues will be found here.

Of course, most bookstores have their own, very unique look and feel. This is particularly true of independent bookstores, which are privately owned. You can learn a lot about a place you’re visiting just by browsing through the local bookshop.

In part two of this blog, we’ll take a look at the categories of Fiction and Children’s Books, as well as some of the other, ancillary products commonly found at the bookstore.

Happy reading!


Photo by Mel


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About the Author: Gary Locke

Gary is a semi-professional hyphenate.