You are what you donate

The shelves of any charity shop offer a group portrait of those who give to it. The bookshelves of a dozen can give you a literary map of Notts. Between last Thursday and this Tuesday, I visited 11 branches of Oxfam; I now have that map, and I am printing it below.
Sticking to Oxfam should have made the survey fairer. They claim to be the largest retailer of second-hand books in Europe, and they handle these things consistently well. It still won’t be completely fair, though.
The notes on what each area is into or not into are adjusted for size of shop; it took more for West Bridgford to be into something than for Sutton-in-Ashfield to be. Although I have resisted snaffling the volumes listed as "coolest", any item mentioned may be gone. Ditto any special offer. Impressions may reflect store managers’ biases, as well as mine. I have ignored Arnold’s second branch (the Nottingham Road one) because it seemed to be reorganising its books. And you have my apologies if your Proust-loving neighbourhood happens to be Oxfam-free.
That said, if it does have an Oxfam, and my comments offend you, the solution is simple. Buy up the bad books. Donate some good ones. Your honour is at stake.
Oxfam Books and Music, Goose Gate
Space for books: Three-quarters of swish new shop
Into: Comics; trendy crime novels; TV nostalgia; leather sofas; bare wood floors
Not into: Mills and Boon; God
Coolest: Awopbopaloobop Awopbamboom, by Nik Cohn. 1969 classic on rock ’n’ roll in funky 1972 paperback, with photos, £9.99
Naffest: Gremlins, the book of the film. Three copies, £1.99 each
West Bridgford (I)
Oxfam Books and Music, Central Avenue
Space for books: Two floors stuffed to the gills
Into: Cooking; left politics; military history; alternative health; highbrow fiction
Not into: Not much (this is the flagship bookshop)
Coolest: Guy Burgess, by Tom Driberg. Rare biography of Soviet double-agent by gay Communist gossip columnist, £9.99
Naffest: Millionnaire Moments, by Chris Tarrant. Dear God, why? £2.49
West Bridgford (II)
Oxfam, Tudor Square
Space for books: A wall and two spinner thingies
Into: Gardening; Jilly Cooper; science fiction; Victorian novels
Not into: Poetry
Coolest: Once in a House on Fire, by Andrea Ashworth. First edition of the only well-written abuse memoir, 99p
Naffest: Love at First Sight, by Barbara Cartland. Author’s name in pale pink. 59p
Oxfam, Littleworth
Space for books: Five or six narrow shelves
Into: Beatrix Potter; Danielle Steel; Patricia Cornwell
Not into: Novels without embossed lettering
Coolest: The Way It Was, by Stanley Matthews. Fat paperback autobiography of football legend, 99p
Naffest: The World's Most Fantastic Freaks, by Mike Parker. Creepy (the publishers, that is). Unpriced
Oxfam Super Savings, Outram Street
Space for books: A spinner and a long, low wall unit
Into: Bargains (“ALL books 20p!”); battered bonkbusters; highbrow surprises (Virago Modern Classics, anyone?)
Not into: Non-fiction
Coolest: Stories My Mother Never Told Me, by Alfred Hitchcock. Sixties pulp in fake Saul Bass cover, 20p
Naffest: An Introduction to Comparative Biochemistry, by Ernest Baldwin. Forty-year-old textbook, 20p
Oxfam, Front Street
Space for books: Half a wall; spinner; low-slung unit
Into: Royalty; travel; hobbies of all kinds
Not into: Show-off fiction; poetry; plays
Coolest: Sarah Bernhardt, by Joanna Richardson. 1959 biography of big-league Victorian actress, £19.99
Naffest: Haynes Workshop Manual for Lada 1200, 1300, 1500 and 1600 (1974 to 1981), 49p
Oxfam, Plains Road
Space for books: About half of a large shop
Into: Literary fiction; animals (pets especially); travel guides
Not into: Romance (there’s a shelf, but Fay Weldon's on it); travel writing
Coolest: The Politics of Ecstasy, by Timothy Leary. Hippie testament, with psychedelic cover — and a blurb quote from the author’s wife, £1.49
Naffest: How to Live With a Neurotic Cat, by Stephen Baker, £1.49
Oxfam, Mansfield Road
Space for books: Front of shop plus chunk of children’s section at back
Into: Children’s books; collectables; things that ought to be collectable
Not into: Cooking (small section with a suspicious number of books about drink)
Coolest: Another Country, by James Baldwin. Book club hardback of modern classic in nice jacket, £1.99
Naffest: The Fight for Canada, by David Orchard, £1.49
Oxfam, High Road
Space for books: Half to two-thirds of a shop
Into: Being an English student (literature, poetry, criticism); feminism; thrillers
Not into: Danielle Steel — the only shop in this survey with none
Coolest: Dip the Puppy, by Spike Milligan. Insane children’s book with
hand-drawn text, £19.99
Naffest: Mr Thrifty’s How to Save Money on Absolutely Everything, by Jane Furnival. Tip one: Don’t give books away. 99p
Oxfam Books, Carter Gate
Space for books: Almost whole of smallish shop
Into: Old bindings; maps; nature; science fiction; Catherine Cookson
Not into: Politics
Coolest: Travels in Tartary, by Peter Fleming. Double volume from the James Bond author’s cleverer brother, £2.49
Naffest: Home Dairying, by Katie Thear. Find the right cow for your house, £1.99
Long Eaton
Oxfam, Market Place
Space for books: Half a wall and two spinners
Into: Large photo-heavy volumes of the kind that turn up in Booksale; Agatha Christie
Not into: Travel guides; dictionaries
Coolest: The Principles of Mathematics, Bertrand Russell. Heavyweight philosophical work, 99p
Naffest: The Best Platinum Tips Book Ever! Formerly free with PlayStation Tips magazine, now 39p