Tag Archives: Bookstores

Book Buzz: How to Find Love in a Bookshop

Book Buzz: How to Find Love in a Bookshop

So how could a bibliophile not pick up a novel entitled “How to Find Love in a Bookshop?”

Of course I did.

Book Buzz: How to Find Love in a Bookshop

How to Find Love in a Bookshop

Here is my observation about novels with bookshops. They have a sprinkle of whimsy and magic throughout. Any why not? Bookstores are … were … filled with wonder and enchantment. Generations following us may never know the delight of browsing in a bookshop, losing any sense of time and space while paging through new titles, and admiring the art of beautiful covers.

Veronica Henry’s How to Find Love in a Bookshop is set in the Cotswolds in England, a magical place in and of itself, where Emilia has returned following the death of her father Julius to salvage the bookshop he ran for years.

Called Nightingale Books, the quaint and dusty bookshop had been tended with care if not financial acumen. Julius was devoted to his beloved books and also to his customers who became his extended family. With his notion that “a town without a bookshop is a town without a heart,” he created a comfortable space that encouraged lingering and schmoozing.

When he passed away, Emilia — and the townspeople who adored him — were struck with the magnitude of his loss. Emilia vows to maintain the cherished bookshop in her father’s benevolent style, but struggles with the overwhelming debt he had unknowingly accrued. And as property developers circle her like hawks, having to shutter the doors for good becomes a grave possibility.

It is the cast of wonderful characters in the town that truly is the heart of this novel. We come to know and connect to the patrons of Nightingale Books who stop in to get recommendations for their next read … or ask for help in selecting a gift … or simply share their own stories.

There is the wealthy lady of the manor who hides a painful secret, and her daughter whose wedding plans are thwarted by a devastating car accident. There is the single dad desperate to do right by his son through introducing him to books. We get to know the painfully shy young chef who can’t bring herself to approach the man she secretly has a crush on, and the mum of a baby who offers free interior design advice to upgrade the shabby room of the shop.

This is a community of folks that values its local bookshop and its owner, and each other, through the ups and downs of daily life. These human connections that arise from a shared love of books are not to be found, sadly, when simply ordering a book online.

Are there shocking twists and turns? No. Is there murder, intrigue, and violent car chases? No. That’s not what this novel is. Picture yourself in a comfortable chair sipping tea (of course) on a lazy day with a cat on your lap.

That’s the feeling you’ll get when reading this novel.

 

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of How to Find Love in a Bookshop. Please leave a comment below, and a winner will be randomly selected. US addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of How to Find Love in a Bookshop from Viking for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

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Book Buzz: The Bookman’s Tale

A romp through the centuries to unravel a Shakespearean mystery that could forever change the face of English literature. An appearance by the Bard himself. A cliffhanger embellished with intrigue, adventure, deceit and narrow escapes. A romantic story of deep and abiding love.

Have I piqued your interest, bibliophiles?

The Bookman's Tale

The Bookman’s Tale

Written by Charlie Lovett, “The Bookman’s Tale” is subtitled “A Novel of Obsession” for good reason.

Peter Byerly is a recently widowed American antiquarian bookseller; that is, he deals in literary works that are centuries old. After the untimely death of his young wife, and finding it painful to be around the physical reminders of her, he flees the US for their second home — a cottage in the pastoral English village of Kingham — to deal with his grief and ultimately reignite his passion for old books.

While browsing in a bookstore in Wales, he pages through an 18th century tome he has taken off a shelf and finds tucked between the pages a small watercolor. To his astonishment, it is a portrait of his late wife.

How can this be? His wife died in 1994 and the portrait is clearly from the Victorian era.

Thus begins his obsessive search to uncover the truth.

More questions than answers.

As he gets more deeply entwined in this mystery of the painting, other questions arise. He learns of an artifact that may provide the resounding answer to doubts about Shakespeare’s authenticity: an artifact so valuable that others will stop at nothing to beat him to it, and his life is suddenly in jeopardy.

Conniving family members, rare books, forgery, murder, secret underground passageways, love and desire – all there. The story is also a fascinating look into the world of rare book selling and acquisition, a subject the author knows well, having been an antiquarian bookseller himself.

How does the painting relate to the artifact? You’ll have to read this to find out. Bouncing from late 16th century London to 1870s English countryside to modern day North Carolina, this engrossing tale kept me riveted, with many quirky characters, drama and twists and turns, and an ending full of surprises.

The underlying theme is one that all of us book lovers will relate to: the way we cherish books and the authors who write them, the thrill of holding a treasured book in your hand, the reverence we hold for literary masterpieces written hundreds of years ago that live on.

I also recommend “A Bookman’s Tale” as an excellent choice for book clubs, and Penguin has provided a wonderful online book club kit for your use..

A New York Times-bestseller, “The Bookman’s Tale” is now in paperback and I am delighted to offer a copy to one of my readers. Please leave a comment and a winner will be selected at random.

And good news, Lovett has a new book coming out this fall that I can’t wait to read. “First Impressions — a Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen.” Doesn’t that sound delicious?

First Impressions

Disclosure: I received a copy of “The Bookman’s Tale” from Penguin for review. No other compensation was received. This review reflects my opinions only.

 

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Without Borders

This was a tough week. I unhappily bid farewell to a friend who was always entertaining, full of light and had an uncanny knack of drawing me in. Naively, perhaps, I thought our relationship would last forever. So I am in denial that things are over.

RIP, Borders.

My sadness is tinged with a bit of indignation. What does this say about our culture that a well-respected, successful, forward-thinking corporation that sells BOOKS has sputtered out of steam? Was this a long time coming, or did I ignore the signs of malaise? Was the writing on the wall, as it were, when mom and pop bookshops collapsed one by one like stricken toy soldiers?  We mourned the end of that era but understood the economics. Rising coats, competition, we got it.

But not big, strong, iconic Borders??

With the announcement of the closure came a collective moan could be heard across the land. Well, in my office, anyway. Author Jennifer Weiner tweeted, “Very first reading for my very first book was at Borders on Walnut Street in Philadelphia. Sad to see them go.”

Does Borders’ demise sound the death knell for the few bookstores that remain? For the record, let me disclose that yes, I do order books online. Amazon is easy and efficient, and the free shipping is enticing. But it is simply not the same experience.

Will the next generation of readers, the multi-tasking, attention-challenged, sensation-hungry demographic that it is, ever while away a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon at the neighborhood bookstore? Will our grandchildren yawn when we describe the art of browsing bookshelves with heads tilted 45 degrees, contentedly shuffling sideways as we perused new titles and old favorites? Will they roll their eyes when we wax rhapsodic about the joy of selecting a book and rifling through its pages?

You can’t take your kids to Amazon and let them roam free in the children’s section while you nose around the cookbook stacks and your husband gets absorbed listening to tracks of new releases in the music section. Same goes for story hour, author appearances and girl scouts cookie sales by the front door.

Borders was my go to store more than any other. I caught up friends over a cup of coffee. As an alumni admissions interviewer for my alma mater, I sat with prospective students in the comfy armchairs. If I needed to buy gifts, Borders afforded one stop shopping, with free gift wrap, no less. Best of all, though, was the idle time spent looking and savoring, and often discovering literary gems just by happenstance.

I can accept that popular reading devices, like the Kindle, are rapidly usurping the hard copy book. I can acknowledge that newspapers and magazines are shrinking, if not disappearing, and books are being eschewed as pre-millennial. Even our libraries are reducing their inventory in favor of the electronic variety. But not having Borders … well, that borders on crazy.

And  now let me get back to my book.

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