Every bookshop has a story.
We’re not talking about rooms that are just full of books. We’re talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I’ve-ever-been-to-bookshops.
Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that’s invented the world’s first antiquarian book vending machine.
And that’s just the beginning.
From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we’ve yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).
The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.
Normally I don’t like non fiction. But this one was a gift, so I thought I better read it. Besides, it’s about book shops! And wow, I am so glad I decided to.
Basically this book tells us about all the most interesting book shops around the world. Some of them were a little insane – like the one with so many books you couldn’t even see through the windows. Some were brilliant ideas – like the Book Barge. Some I just desperately needed to visit – like, well, ALL of them! I got nice little descriptions of every shop, plus sometimes the stories of how they were made. As well as that, we got interviews with the authors. Each of them were asked what they would have if they had a bookshop, and they all told the stories of where they went to buy books as kids. My favourite idea would have to be separating all your books into categories, then having things around them that go with them. Like all your rabbit books in one place, and a real live rabbit next to them! I did wonder why some authors got more attention than others. I don’t know if they said more, or if the author asked them more.
Some of them had really interesting stories, but didn’t get as much page space as the more famous ones. To be fair, the famous ones did tend to have more creative book shop ideas. I just wonder if that was done on purpose, or if it was a coincidence.
I’ve always wanted to own a book shop. Hopefully one day my friend and I will actually get around to making one. But I didn’t realise quite how difficult it was going to be! These people worked so hard for their shops, and even then most of them still struggled to get money. They all had a little something that made them unique. But it didn’t scare me off. It made me want a shop even more! We need our book shops. Sorry, but e books just aren’t going to cut it for me! They say book shops are a dying breed. But if they can do it, why can’t I?
The only problem I had was that the author was so obviously English. There were sections for each of the continents, but the one for Europe was about twice the size of all the other ones. England got most of the best book shops. Maybe it’s true, maybe they do just have a lot of great book shops. It’s all right for her though, she can visit them all! What about the rest of us? There weren’t many listed for New Zealand, but I understood that. The rest of the places though… I’m sure there are more book shops there! We can’t all get to Europe willy nilly. I wanted to visit each and every one of these shops. But really, it’s going to be me travelling around Europe for a while…
Despite that, you should still read it! Even though it mostly just made me jealous, it was also really interesting to read about. Sometimes I want to be anti social, and curl up in corner and read books forever. But sometimes, people really are amazing.