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Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop A Rich, Delicious Ode to A Love Affair With Books

(Image from Read This Now)
One of the book blogs I read (I peruse so many that I can't remember which one) recently asked if other bloggers create reviews in their heads while reading. I do this frequently. In fact, I mentally bookmark quotes I know I will want to use later. Unfortunately, my "bookmarks" don't work as well as the real thing - I've flipped back through whole books trying to find those magical passages. So, when I started reading The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee, I grabbed some Post It notes and a pen. This book is so quotable that I used up half the pad marking passages I liked.
The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is part memoir, part history, but mostly, it's an ode to Lewis Buzbee's lifelong love affair with books. Buzbee first fell in love with books when he received Weekly Reader book orders in elementary school. As a teen, he found Steinbeck, haunted bookstores, and read voraciously. Not surprisingly, adulthood found him working with books - selling them, promoting them, and loving them. Buzbee's passion shines as touches on all kinds of bookish subjects, including the history of bookmaking; the book business; censorship; his favorite bookshops worldwide; customer service; saving books from Nazis and other book-burning fanatics; etc. With so much to cover, it's not surprising that Buzbee rambles a bit, but he's so warm and engaging that it doesn't really matter. It's like chatting with a friend over a cup of cocoa - who cares where the conversation goes as long as you're enjoying each other's company.
Like I mentioned earlier, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is immensely quotable. Here are some of my favorite passages:
Books connect us with others, but that connection is created in solitude, one reader in one chair hearing one writer, what John Irving refers to as one genius speaking to another ... Ellis Canetti has described cafes as places we go to be "alone among others," and I've always felt this was true of the bookstore, too. It's a lovely combination, this solitude and gathering, almost as if the bookstore were the antidote for what it sold. (6)
...As a victim of book lust, I've gazed at millions of feet of shelf space, and I should be quite over the allure, the slight magic that's entranced me, but I'm not. (11)
Books ... give body to our ideas and imaginations, make them flesh in the world; a bookstore is the city where our fleshed-out inner selves reside. (19)
The books of our childhood offer a vivid door to our own pasts, and not necessarily for the stories we read there, but for the memories of where we were and who we were when we were reading them; to remember a book is to remember the child who read that book. (36-37)
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. This is a warm, insightful volume that will resonate with anyone who loves books. It's small, a quick read, but trust me, you'll want to savor it; The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is just that rich, just that delicious.
Grade: A


  1. That was me wondering that! I don't know how you feel about dogearing, but my policy is to put a tiny dogear in the bottom corner of a page with a passage I like; makes it much easier to find!

  2. Oh, this sounds sooo good. I absolutely love books about books. I have quite a few, but I don't have this one....yet. Thanks for the review.

  3. Hey, can I borrow this one if you have your own copy. I think I would like it. I'm glad you are home from "happy land" and reading and blogging again.

  4. Eva - I never dogear, but the Post Its worked really well!

    Lisa - I really enjoyed this one, hope you do, too :)

    Laurel - This one was a library book, but I took it back today, so it should be there. Have you picked up the Geraldine Brooks ones yet? I saw them when I was picking up some I had on reserve.

  5. I tried to get hold of this one from Amazon last year but after several months they wrote to say they couldn't fulfill the order, presumably something to do with me being in the UK and the book being American. Time to try again perhaps.

  6. Since I started blogging, I've become a real post-it note nut. I love it when books have passages that just jump out and beg to be used in a review!

    This book sounds excellent, I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for a copy!

  7. Glad to see that you enjoyed this one...I'm picking it up, finally, at the library tomorrow morning. It took them forever to get it pulled for me. Can you believe that my county library has only one copy among the more than a dozen libraries in the system? Amazing.

    As for marking quotes, I use those little sticky markers placed over the quote and hanging just over the side edge of the for me, but I don't use nearly all the quotes or thoughts that I mark.

  8. I picked up the Geraldine Brooks books but haven't read them yet. I'm all bogged down in books about the 101st Airborne during WWII. I think I'm just about ready to leave them behind, but I did pick up a copy of "Ike" when I went to library. Couldn't resist! I also picked up "Boone" which was held for me, so the stack is pretty high!

  9. This little gem warranted 6 pages in my book journal when I rad it last March!! I'm so glad that you loved it too. I think one of my favorite passages was from p.11 when he referred to being a "book snoop" - something I am totally guilty of!! I loved when he said, "I might find what I'm looking for in the arm of a passing pedestrian." And my fashionista friends can just eat this comment, "A great book will never go out of style - books go with every outfit."
    I finally finished up a final project for a class tonight. Report cards next and then I can get back to some "real" reading. I think I may try one of the mysteries you reviewed recently. Any favorites?

  10. This book is just chock-full of good quotes. I stuck Post-It notes all over the place; I didn't use half the quotes I marked, because there were SO many. Usually, there are only 1 or 2 that jump out at me when I'm reading, but this book had something quotable on every page, it seemed. It's a great book. I hope everyone enjoys it :)

  11. Inside - I enjoyed Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerney. It's not the greatest mystery in the world, but I liked it. I'm also really liking the Margaret Maron series that I've been reading. That's about it for mysteries. I have so many on my TBR mountain that I haven't gotten to - if you find some good ones, let me know.

  12. I use a scrap of paper as a bookmark and keep notes on it of things I might want to mention when I post. This looks like a fabulous read!

  13. Mmmm, this sounds delicious! I LOVE books about books.

  14. visiting from TTT (thanks for the comment on my blog) I clicked through your review on this book because I've never heard of it, and now I have to read it! That's what a good reveiw can do - open the door to encourage another reader to walk through.....and I will! Good choices on your cover list.


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