Wednesday 14 February 2018

Campbell, Jen "The Bookshop Book"

Campbell, Jen "The Bookshop Book" - 2014

This book starts with:
"Bookshops are
time machines
& safe places.
(this book is for those who know this to be true)"

Every reader loves bookshops as much as books. That's my theory and I stick to it. I am one of those people who cannot pass by a bookshop and who cannot leave a bookshop without buying at least one book. I have no problem leaving other shops without a purchase but it's impossible when entering a bookshop.

Lately, I have read some other books about bookshops:
Rice, Ronald (Ed.) "My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop" - 2012
Taylor, Andrew James "Books That Changed the World" - 2008

This is yet another approach to discovering bookshops. The author has more or less travelled around the world for us, interviewed bookshop owners, employees, authors, readers, anyone who has anything to do with producing and consuming books. Granted, she describes more shops in the UK and the US than in all the other parts of the world together but it still is a pleasure to follow her around. She describes all sorts of exotic places that I doubt I will ever get to, like Cambodia and Mongolia, Sudan and Tanzania, bookshops in North and South America, Australasia, wherever you can find one, she found them. If there were a bookshop on the moon, it would get a mention in here.

The stories about the people are all wonderful - what's not to like about book lovers? For example, there is Jessica A. Fox from the States who wanted to visit a second-hand bookshop in Scotland, googled it, found  and visited one (The Bookshop in Wigtown). Apparently, we can read all about her falling in love with the owner in "Three Things You Need To Know About Rockets: A Real-Life Scottish Fairy Tale".

I would love to visit all of those bookstores but there is one I have been visiting lots of times. Every time we have a visitor in our area, we take them to Maastricht to go into Selexyz Dominicanen. Imagine the surprise when people enter a church and end up in a books hop. Definitely visit their website. And let me know when you're in the area, I always love to meet other book nerds.

For anyone who loves boats more than books - or at least just as much - the Book Barge in Lichfield seems to be the answer. The owner, Sarah Henshaw, also wrote a book about her adventures. "The Bookshop That Floated Away". But she also describes bookshops that distributed their goods on donkeys or tanks.

Then there's the story about Stephen Fowler from Toronto who created the Biblio-Mat in his bookshop "The Monkey's Paw" where you can buy a second hand book for $2 with the promise: "Every book a surprise. No two alike. Collect all 112 million titles". Their most loyal customer Vincent bought one book every week in 2013 and he did not just read it but also wrote a review on his blog Certainly a site worth looking into.

I also loved the way she describes how different kind of bookshops organize their books. My favourite would be the one where the cover all the books face the customer. But there are all sorts of different set-ups. In Japan, there is a shop that sorts the books by date, not of publication but of the period in which it is set.

The author also recommends books to read, these were my two favourites:
Gowdy, Barbara "The White Bone", a journey into the minds of elephants - my favourite animals!
Berthoud, Ella; Elderkin, Susan "The Novel Cure" - a novel for any ailment you might have.
I know I must put both of them on my wish list.

The book is also full of quotes. I particularly loved this one:
"A good bookshop shows you the books that you never knew you wanted. It doesn't merely fulfill your desires, it expands them. It you know the book you want, go into a bookshop and buy it, you have failed." Mark Forsyth

So, whether you like to read about books, bookshops or see some amazing pictures of some weird and not so weird places, this is a fantastic book to delve into.

From the back cover:
"Every bookshop has a story.

We’re not talking about rooms that are just full of books. We’re talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I’ve-ever-been-to-bookshops.

Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that’s invented the world’s first antiquarian book vending machine.

And that’s just the beginning.

From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we’ve yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).

The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world."


  1. I'm a sucker for bookshops too, my favorite place to while away the time.

    1. Totally agree. Better than any café or other place in any city. ;)


    Love that book cover.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. So true, a great book cover for an interesting book. I bought it as a hard cover which a rarely do.

  3. And thanks to you both for visiting.
    Have a great weekend,

  4. Just reading your review made me want to go to a book store today!

    1. I don't need to read a review for that. ;)

      Anyway, enjoy your next visit and think about me.
      Have a good week,

  5. Some great options here - and, the book that caught my eye is The White Bone recommended in one of the books. Went and read about it and it sounds amazing. So, on the list it goes - this was supposed to be a week I wouldn't add to my list.....but I guess readers want to talk about books, right? :) Hope you have a great week and time to enjoy a good book.
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

    1. Thanks for that, Terrie. It's been a while that I read this and I just re-read my review and must say, I need to read this again. LOL.

      In the meantime, the owner of The Bookshop in Wigtown has written a book himself (actually two), the first one Diary of a Bookseller. Both are great and I can heartily recommend them. I guess I need to read "Three Things You Need To Know About Rockets" next.

      Thanks for your visit, it's always great revisiting my old posts. And getting to meet new people.