Wednesday 21 May 2008


Today's title is one of the suggestions I've had, in the face of Readers' Block (or, since I'm just one person, Reader's Block) - I *think* I did do welly-throwing - or welly-wanging - at a village fete once, but I'm probably not ready to take it up as an Olympic sport just yet. So I'll carry on trying to shift the block, and get back to my normal Stuck position. Annoyingly, a headache has been added to the mix. On the bright side, today I completed my European Computer Driving Licence, which can be stuck squarely onto my CV, though it would be an exaggeration to say I yet understood Access or the finer workings of Excel. Part of the amusement of the course was trying to unlearn everything since about 1998, when the test was made. Formating a floppy disk, anyone?

The book I'm currently reading bits of here and there is The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee, which I bought when meeting online friends in London. It's 'a memoir, a history' of Buzbee's life with books - working in a bookshop, working as a publisher's sales rep, just generally living and loving books - and interspersed with this is the history of books and booksellers. What a lot of times the word 'book' was in that sentence - what's the opposite of aversion therapy? The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop isn't overly sentimental, since Buzbee has had to understand the commodity aspect of books, but he speaks with a voice which every booklover will recognise and respond to:

When I walk into a bookstore, any bookstore, first thing in the morning, I'm flooded with a sense of hushed excitement. I shouldn't feel this way. I've spent most of my adult life working in bookstores, either as a bookseller or a publisher's sales rep, and even though I no longer work in the business, as an incurable reader I find myself in a bookstore at least five times a week. Shouldn't I be blase about it all by now? In the quiet of such a morning, however, the store's displays stacked squarely and its shelves tidy and promising, I know that this is no mere shop. When a bookstore opens its doors, the rest of the world enters, too, the days' weather and the day's news, the streams of customers, and of course the boxes of books and the many other worlds they contain - books of facts and truths, books newly written and those first read centuries before, books of great relevance and of absolute banality. Standing in the middle of this confluence, I can't help but feel the possibility of the universe unfolding a little, once upon a time.

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is materially beautiful, with deckled edges and thick paper, but much more significant is the kindred spirit you'll find inside. If anything can make me remember how much I love books, this should do it.


  1. That is such a beautiful quote! I couldn't agree with his sentiments more if I tried. There is something about a bookshop that fills me with quiet hope, and even if I go away empty handed, just being in one is enough to calm me.
    Good luck with the continuing book problem. If you are in need of someone to collect the wellies as you throw them, call on me!

  2. Places where books gather are wonderful aren't they? However, I am rather sizist. I like my bookshops small or at least manageable. I think I may suffer from agorbibliphobia - fear of too many books in one huge place. I am unsettled by large branches of Waterstones mainly becuase of the tables and stands screaming out to catch your eye with the books that have been placed there. I'm happier in small independent and to tell the truth, secondhand bookshops. There is more of a sense of adventure, a feeling that if I discover something it has called out to me or even found its way there especially for me. I just don't get that feeling in the monstershops.

  3. I read this a year or so ago and it is chock full of interesting passages. Just confirms what every booklover already knows, but it's fun to read anyway!

  4. See, I knew that reference to welly boots would resonate with you....(does Mutley laugh)

  5. And isn't the cover out of this world ... it just fills me with memories of stories and the places they have taken me.


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