As I’ve written before, I’ve been into memoirs lately. This year, I read and loved Ann Patchett’s latest, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. After that, I flew through two light-hearted reads by Sophie Hudson (aka BooMama) and Melanie Shankle (aka Big Mama). Last year, I fell in love with Waiting for Birdy by Catherine Newman. A few years ago, Poser by Claire Dederer and Women, Work, and the Art of Savoir Faire by Mireille Guiliano were some of my favorite reads. There’s something alluring about getting a peak into someone’s real-life story. Wendy Welch’s memoir about starting a used bookstore in small-town Virginia stole my heart. I looked forward to picking it up every night, and I was so sad to finish it. It was the first book I actually reviewed on Amazon. That’s how much I loved it. Anyway, it’s well-worth a read. I’m so glad I own it. The Little Bookstore made me think more about where I buy my books (huge for me because I’m so very devoted to Amazon). And now I’m dying to take a detour on our next road trip to visit the Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap.
Author: Wendy Welch
How I Came to Pick Up This Book: Like most of my recent faves, I read about it on a blog and added it to my Amazon wishlist, and then it was thoughtfully gifted to me for my birthday.
First Lines: “People talk about following their bliss, but if you’re stubborn, unobservant sods like Jack and me, your bliss pretty much has to beat you over the head until you see things in a new light.”
On writing…”I think writers write because it’s a device to make sense of what’s happening around us, to order and calm and clarify our thoughts. We scribble down flashes of insight, observations, ideas because we believe other people will identify with us, understand what we think, feel the same way about something , or even—oh great arrogance—benefit from what we have to relate. Because it’s fun…See writers create because we have to. We’d explode otherwise.”
In response to customers entering the store bearing grief or hardship… “I’ll put the kettle on.”
On the value of books… “We never forget that books are more than the words on the page. They mark important moments in our life journeys.”
Strengths: Wendy’s (I think she’d want me to refer to her by her first name) writing is really funny, yet captures poignant moments in her story. She doesn’t take herself too seriously but her writing captures how she has found incredible depth and meaning in her bookstore. I appreciate the way she describes the characters, with great detail and intentionality. It was interesting to read about the beginnings of a small business and a shop, particularly details about how they first struggled to have enough books and then had to figure out how to fit so many into their shop, what to turn away, and how to let people down easy. The book, though a linear story about how the bookstore came to be, read more like a collection of short stories. The chapters were short and focused on different topics.
Weaknesses: One chapter seemed a bit repetitive and laborious to read, but it was short and easy to skim through.