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.