If you love books, chances are that you also love bookstores–those magical places where you still feel as though you’re venturing down a rabbit hole, feeling your way through exciting, new areas of darkness. Though a lot of these bookstores have recently disappeared, the best ones are likely to endure any kind of eRevolution because nothing compares to getting lost between the shelves of a well-stocked bookstore or chatting with the original book matchmaker (a real bookseller) to find your next read. For those who love this experience but no longer have a bookstore within their reach, we put together a list of 13 great books about bookstores. If we’ve missed any of your favorites, let us know and we’ll add them to the list. We would also love to hear about your best bookstore experiences, so please feel free to share!
The Haunted Bookshopby Christopher Morley Another classic and a great read, a 1919 novel is by Christopher Morley that captures the romance of books and bookshops. One of our favorite book quotes comes “The Haunted Bookshop”: “When you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night – there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.”
An absolute gem of a novel, however, one would not expect anything less from this fantastic writer. “In 1959 Florence Green, a kind-hearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop – the only bookshop – in the seaside town” only to discover that “a town that lacks a bookshop isn’t always a town that wants one.”
Bookselling in the 21st century: “A charming and hilarious adventure that has it all: secret societies, unbreakable codes, underground lairs, cutting-edge technology, the googleplex…and lots of books!“
The Bookman’s Wake by John DunningOne of the most popular volumes in the great Cliff Janeway mystery series by John Dunning. The series features tough, book-loving homicide detective Cliff Janeway and an amazing array of book related crimes. Lots of fun for any book lover in this five volume series.
I only came across this novel very recently and have not had a chance to read it yet. However, taken the fact that it centers around Sylvia Beach and the City of Light in 1930s, it is probably worth a read.
A Novel Bookstoreis a quirky novel on an enduring theme: the passion readers have for books and the idea of the dream bookstore. The perfect bookstore being a place that stocks only the best of books, and where no bad choices can be made. The big question is, of course, how such perfect selection can be achieved. The novel offers a good plot with some mystery and romance thrown in for entertainment. Any great bookseller will end up with “misty” eyes at one point of this novel. Ah, if only such store could exist…
Part literary thriller, part coming of age story blended with a good dose of book obsession makes for a read-worthy concoction. Most of the novel takes place in a fictional bookshop set in New York City’s the Strand, an easily recognizable bookish landmark that most New Yorkers and some visitors may be able to recall. A good beach read—light and fun—but still full of the love of books.
The fantastically researched, absorbing and elegantly written biography of one of the most amazing booksellers who ever lived. In 1917, Sylvia Beach walked into a Paris bookshop, where she met Adrienne Monnier, the woman who would become her life companion. In 1919, Beach opened her own English-language bookshop and lending library, Shakespeare and Company, which would become the cynosure of an entire literary movement.
Shakespeare & Co in Paris, in the shadow of Notre Dame, is one of the world’s most famous bookshops. Many would argue that the store is not what it used to be, but it seems to have worked just fine for this Canadian journalist who finds himself “living above the store, working for the proprietor, George Whitman, patron saint of the city’s down-and-out writers, and immersing himself in the love affairs and low-down watering holes of the shop’s makeshift staff.” If you ever wonder how it would feel to live and work in the bookstore, this is the story for you.
The subtitle of this book tells it all: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Bookstore. “For anyone who loves books, and especially for anyone who has fallen under the spell of a special bookstore, Shelf Life will be required reading.”
A 1970 memoir based on the twenty-year correspondence between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel, chief buyer for London’s Marks & Co, an antiquarian bookseller. The clash of Hanff’s brash American informality with Doel’s old-fashioned British professionalism will have you laughing out loud, but it will also bring tears to your eyes.
A charming chronicle of the struggles and triumphs of the independent bookstore in America written by Betsy Burton, the founder and owner of an independent bookstore in Salt Lake City. You will not believe all the joys and woes that come with owning an independent bookstore, but reading about them will make you appreciate these stores even more.
If you are member on our site and would like a quick way to see the whole list of these books, follow these instructions:
1. Click on the book title listed above
2. Click on the tag that says “books about bookstores” (Located on the left hand-side of the book profile page under “Tag this book”)
3. Once you are viewing the list, you can then easily add all of these titles to your bookshelf, wish list, or maybe even your 2013 reading list.