Book Review—The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap
Subtitle: a memoir of friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasure of a good book
The book is set in the town of Big Stone Gap in Virginia and focuses on the stories of running a second-hand book store. I grew up in a similar small town about two hours north of Big Stone Gap so reading this book was like visiting my childhood home.
The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap has been around for a long time (published in 2012) and I've seen it recommended on a number of reading lists but I never got around to reading it. I'm so happy I finally did. It's a book only a book lover could write for other book lovers. It's funny and sweet, and sometimes sarcastic (in the best possible way). And the stories of small town life will resonate with those who've lived it.
Some of my favorite lines from the book:
"A lot of money wasn't important—just enough to eat, sleep, and stay warm through the winter." This sentence caught me eye because it sums up why I would never make it in sales.
"Bookshelf anthropology can be fascinating; how many times have you scanned a friend's or associate's bookcases to discover similar—or disquietingly dissimilar—tastes?" And am I the only one who may have a few books on her shelf just because I think they make me look smarter or more philosophical?
"In a mixed marriage..."—a reader married to a nonreader.
"You really have to like people to run a used book shop, or you'll wind up smacking somebody."
The author's thoughts on selling books—"On the one hand they are all things to all people, on the other a different thing to every person who buys one: entertainment, information source, inspiration and motivation, a talisman of wisdom, even a mile marker on one's journey."
The story about Wee Willie brought tears to my eyes. Even now I feel great affection and inspiration for a man whom I have never met.
Best line & great advice—What did they learn from The Book Down the Road Tour? "The people who follow their own dreams and do what's in front of them—build, paint, renovate, stock, defy, buy, sell, and smile—are still standing, while those who wait for permission, or guarantees, or help from someone else, disappear fairly quietly into that good night."
Do you have a favorite memoir about a bookstore? I would love to hear what it is. Leave me a note in the comments so I can check it out.