Saturday, 24 July 2010

Book Review: The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee

Category: Non-fiction (Memoir &  history)

Challenges: Spotlight Series

Synopsis: Quite simply a book about books. The selling of books. The love of books. Just a book about books.

My Thoughts: Oh My! How I love this book! I love it! And I want EVERYONE to read it!! If you love books you MUST read this book!!!!

I mean how can a booklover like me not love opening passages like this one:

“When I walk into a bookstore, any bookstore, first thing in the morning, I’m flooded with a sense of hushed excitement” (3).

I feel exactly the same way when I walk into a bookstore, really any time of day. The thought that in that store is the perfect book. The book you have been looking for, even when you aren’t really looking. Buzbee manages to capture that excitement throughout the book as he talks about the history of bookselling as well as his own personal relationship with books and the selling of them. This small book is simply an ode to books and bookselling.

Throughout the book Buzbee talks about books that have shaped who we are as readers, the book that sparked that fire within us that made us devour books. The books that changed who we were in some way. I am not sure I have a book that made me a reader. I was born a reader. The next in line of a long long line of readers. When I was just a few hours old my mother (and here in lies a certain amount of dispute as my dad claims it was he) read me Isaac Aisimov. I know that at age 2 I would “read” Sagan om den lilla, lilla gumman (The Tale of the Little Little Old Woman) by Elsa Beskow and I never looked back. I do know the book that had the biggest impact on me as a teenager: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It is a book that shaped the way I think and the way I read. For Buzbee that book was Stienbecks Grapes of Wrath (a book, incidentally, that I hated :D). This, from me, slightly rambly passage is simply what this book did to me. It got me thinking. And herein lies perhaps the greatest strength in this book, it gets you thinking about books. Books you love. Books that mean something. Books that you read when that big thing happened in your life. Your life in books quite simply.

Apart from his love of books and bookstores, Buzbee touches upon a few topics that are near and dear to my heart when it comes to books. One of them is how to get children to be readers. Buzbee’s long term friend Greta brings him down to earth when he is quite young by pointing out to him that it doesn’t matter WHAT parents read, as long as they read. Although I like reading classics and Important books (unlike the young Buzbee I am fully aware of the fact that I occasionally laps into snobbishness about my reading, then I remember that I too like candy books on occasion), I fully recognize that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and people should simply be encouraged to read! Not to mention the fact that one book often leads to another. There are some books that seem to be gateway books :D I loved Nancy Drew as a child. In fact, upstairs, in my old bedroom I have 5 of my aunts old Nancy Drew books from the ‘60s. They were the books that lead me to my current love of mystery books.

Speaking of cups of tea, well coffee actually, Buzbee manages, in several places to discuss the natural connection between coffee shops and bookshops. While telling the history of bookshops he points out the natural symbiosis that exists between these two places. Books invite discussions, although reading in and of itself is a solitary pastime, once you have read them they need to be digested and discussed, and this is easily done over a nice cup of coffee in the company of friends. One of the things I love about the UK and the States (and I miss terribly when I am here in Sweden) is the fact that most bookstores there seem to have a coffee shop attached to them. There are few things that make me as happy as sitting on the floor of a bookstore, leafing through a book that I find interesting and drinking a VERY large latte. That is my idea of a slice of heaven. And it is something I plan for every single time I am across the pond.

This book has sparked so many thoughts, and so many ideas for blogposts that I really don’t know where to even start. I do want every single booklover out there to read this book, so thank you to my friend Gatz (not her real name :D) who gave me this book and thanks to the Spotlight Series for making me take the time to read it. It only took me a day but what a pleasurable day it was.

Normally this is where I point you to to purchase the book, but I think Buzbee would want me to say: Go to your local bookstore to buy this particular book. I agree with him. If your local bookstore carries it or they can order it, then buy it there!


Spotlight Series

Copyright ©2010 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


Chris said...

Oh good! I was wondering about this book so I'm glad to see such a positive review. I'm adding it to my list. I love how you advise us to buy it from a local bookstore! :)

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

A very timely post, as a visit to one of my favorite independent bookstores is on the agenda for today. I'll have to look for this one!

Anonymous said...

I hadn't heard of this book. Now what can I do? On the TBR is the only way! Thanks for that great review, Zee.

flippet said...

My favorite passage is near the end, about bookstores being cathedrals. I understand that feeling so deeply.

In my genealogy research, I googled the family name, and ran across a long-standing family-named bookstore in Germany. I'm dying to know how/if they're related. It would explain so much. :-)

Nymeth said...

I really loved this book - so glad you did too!

Aarti said...

So interesting to contrast your review with Rebecca's fairly unenthusiastic one. I think I'd love to read this one but as I just read The King's English in the past several months, I think there would probably be a lot of overlap. So, I'll have to save it for later :-)

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Oh this sounds good and your gushing even made it better :) I want to read this!