The Diary of a Bookseller
Shaun Bythell Pages: 310 Published: 2017
The book: Shaun Bythell lives in Wigtown, a small Scottish town that is known as Scotland’s Book Town. It has a large number of bookshops and hosts an annual book festival. Shaun owns the oldest bookshop in Wigtown: a delightful place crammed with secondhand books on every topic imaginable and unimaginable.
This is his diary. It captures a year in his life selling books.
You might like it because: Bythell has a witty, sarcastic, and sometimes dry sense of humor. His diary is full of amusing stories, strange and eccentric customers, and recalcitrant staff. It’ll make you laugh out loud, at times.
It’s also a window into the battle small independent booksellers wage as they try to survive in a world dominated by Amazon.
What did other people say?
“[Bythell]…is, after all, a man who shot a Kindle and wall-mounted it – and after reading his wonderfully entertaining book, I’m just about ready to follow suit.”
– The Guardian (UK)
“Bythell’s narrative is lively and intelligent, but readers may be disappointed that his book dispels any notions about the romance of owning a bookstore.”
– Publisher’s Weekly
How quickly will you get into the book? If you love books, you’ll be hooked from the first page.
You might not like it because: Bythell is very funny, and his tales of eccentric and annoying customers are entertaining. However, by the time you get to the last third of the book, you might find yourself wishing Wigtown was a little less quiet and charming; it got a bit repetitive.
What might you read next?
This book is a veritable feast of book recommendations from the first to last page.
At the beginning of each month’s entries, Bythell quotes George Orwell, who did a stint working in a book shop. You could read Orwell’s writing about his time there; pick up Bookshop Memories.
According to Bythell, the book that has been recommended to him most is William Boyd’s Any Human Heart. He read it and “Absolutely adored it.” You might too.
Or you could read José Saramango’s Blindness, which Bythell describes as brilliant.
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