April 24, 2021
Today is Independent Book Shop Day – a day for taking time to consciously support those little independent shops in which we reliably find books, conversation, comfort and more. (Like puzzles. Or cards. And maybe romance if you’re a character in a book.)
Though many of us may secretly dream of being book shop owners, in reality it is a very few who have the gumption and the grit to successfully bring these dreams to life and then keep them alive in hard times. I, for one, am extremely grateful to all those independent book shop owners and employees who rise to the challenge every day. This last year has been a doozy and I have so admired the innovation shown by bookshop keepers around the world who have creatively committed to keeping the rest of us joyfully connected with books and writers despite not always being able to even open their doors. Thank you all!
As a little toast to our favourite bookshops, here is a list of novels with bookshop themes. There are hundreds more I'm sure (share any favourites I haven't listed) but these are all fairly recent. I have a hard time passing up a bookshop or a bookshop book!
August 3, 2020
I know for certain that bookstores bring me comfort like few other places do. The beauty of the spines colourfully stacked together can be awe-inspiring but the fact that each book is evidence of some soul’s hard work, creativity, and commitment is even more inspiring to me. I think above all, I’m taken by the sense of optimism that perfumes the air of a bookshop. Therein may be your next favourite escape, your next learned thing, the next time someone “gets you”, your next big laugh, the next time you can travel in time (back or forth) the next time you just savour the joy of well chosen words. Every visitor to a bookstore, whether they leave with a book or not, must feel a spark of optimism when they head in the door. So many potential experiences await. It’s downright thrilling. And so is this book.
I was recently gifted Do You Read Me? a book that explores bookstores around the world (Thanks, Mom!) and I’ve been enthralled.
Carturesti Carusel in Bucharest, Romania
From Tel Aviv to Tokyo, Porto to Portland, New York to New Delhi and beyond, Do You Read Me? is a glorious study of some of the world’s most wonderful Independent bookstores. Being pandemically shackled, we’re not making treks to far off lands these days. Nothing, however, is stopping us from virtually voyaging world-wide through these pages. There are fascinating discussions on the independent bookstore business, the diverse and innovative bookshop keepers, and the importance of bookstores to communities. Throughout each feature are gorgeous photos and engaging back stories about what makes each store unique. I’ve been known to steer a travel itinerary in the direction of a special book shop before, now entire “someday” trips may be inspired by a certain bookstore!
“A town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.” – Neil Gaiman
Some of the bookstores are astonishing architecturally – converted banks, churches and theatres restored to epic glory. There are also a few modern architectural stars, new, sleek and shiny. Others are quaint and cute and a puzzle of rooms pieced together. Some are thematically focused on travel, romance, art … Some are named with a wink to readers, like the “The Wild Rumpus” and “The Ripped Bodice” and others simply tell it like it is: “Books are Magic!”
I hope someday you can locate a copy of this lovely book and enjoy the journey yourselves.
“Running a bookshop is a curious profession. It is a delightful, weird, and wonderful thing. I am grateful to have been part of it.” – Jen Campbell
February 26, 2013
Don’t you just adore a good book shop? Maybe it’s a familiar favourite or a newfound discovery on your travels but wherever it be, a book-filled emporium always brings instant comfort and a whiff of possibility. The best ones are oozing with charm and characters (and not just in the pages!) along with the tempting titles.
With bookstores treading turbulent waters of late, there seems to be a wave of sentimental tributes populating the shelves. Here are a few I think look entertaining:
This is a collection of odes to bookstores by writers who’ve formed precious relationships with certain shops. Library Journal describes it this way:
This is more than just a celebration, more than just a compendium of bookstore kudos. This is like each of your favorite writers (84 of them!) penning a love letter to their favorite bookstore. Names you may recognize include Dave Eggers, Louise Erdrich, Francine Prose, Lisa See, and Simon Winchester. Editor Rice, a publishing professional, has recruited new pieces that illuminate the quirks and many intangibles that make a great bookstore. From the owner who will trek across town to help out at a library signing, to the fierceness with which some owners protect their customers’ privacy, to the overall comfort of stepping into a world that you just know is full of compatriots, the beautiful stories in these pages tell of those things that make any neighborhood bookstore great.
VERDICT: There are other collections that focus on bookstores… but this one is a personal peek into the hearts of the contributing writers as well as into the bookstores they love. Sure to please any bibliophile, even if borrowed from the library!
Now this book about bookshops actually inspired a new shop to name itself The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop! From the author, Lewis Buzbee:
“I have always and ever been a lover of books and bookstores, and for over 20 years worked as a bookseller. This book is a memoir of my time in bookstores, but also a history of bookselling and publishing, from the great library at Alexandria to today’s City Lights. Mostly, though, the book is meant as a full-on celebration of this common but vital place. If you love the feel of walking into a bookstore and the promise those stacks and shelves hold, well, I’ve got a book for you.”
Adriana Trigiani fans among you will be familiar with Big Stone Gap. It’s time to revisit this charming Virginian town in memoir rather than fictional form.
“Wendy Welch’s memoir, The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, is a delight. Starting a used bookstore in a small Appalachian town during the decline-of-the-book era may seem like rank folly, but the project—and the book—turn out to be anything but foolish. With warmth and humor, Welch details the small successes and large missteps along the path to finding a place in a community. She shows that, even in the age of the e-reader, there is hope for books and those who love them, and that reading and bookstores still perform an important function in civic life. Her clear prose sparkles with personality in this heartening tale of the perils and rewards of following one’s dream.” –Thomas C. Foster, author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Well, this one is likely just as it sounds. Jen Campbell, a bookseller in the UK, began to compile her own list of “weird things said” and then collected a few more from commiserating fellow booksellers. The results have appeared on her blog and in this book. A second version (More Weird Things …) is due for release in the coming months. Here is one of my favourite exchanges – more of the charming than weird: