A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book
by Wendy Welch
Published: Oct 15, 2013
by St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: Paperback / softback | Trade paperback (US)
So here’s a deep, dark secret: I would love to own a bookstore someday.
I have this bookstore planned out in my mind almost to the last detail, although I sometimes fluctuate between whether to go all-inclusive or specialise in mystery fiction and also between all new books or a combination new/used.
All of this to say that when Nothing Better than a Good Book mentioned this memoir of a couple starting a used bookstore in a small Virginia town, I had to go out and immediately order it. This was a great opportunity to read about someone else’s experience trying to do the same thing I daydream about doing myself someday .
I found a lot of good stuff in here. A lot of things I knew, being the child of a shop (flower) owner and the wife of a business owner, but a lot of stuff too that I never took into account, like the amount of emotional baggage that can often accompany a crateful of used books or just how much a bookshop can become a community center.
There’s also a fair amount of philosophising most of which was interesting and some of it a little bit defensive but all of it mostly spot-on. Most of her defensiveness comes up when talking about ebooks and really, any bookseller would get defensive on this topic because people insist on viewing ‘ebooks vs. paper’ as a competition instead of what it is: a choice, an option. I understand where she’s coming from, but she protested just a bit too much.
This is solidly a memoir about starting a bookshop and it’s on the meatier side of the spectrum; it wasn’t a slog at all but it wasn’t a quick read either. I had sort of expected her to veer off topic once in awhile but the focus remained tightly on starting the bookshop and the first five years of keeping it running. I found it highly informative and interesting. Now if I can just get my husband to read it….