The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
Published by Profile Books, 2017
Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown - Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop. (see image above of Shaun in his shop) It contains 100,000 books, spread over a mile of shelving, with twisting corridors and roaring fires, and all set in a beautiful, rural town by the edge of the sea. A book-lover's paradise? Well, almost ... In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff, who include the ski-suit-wearing, bin-foraging Nicky. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books (both lost classics and new discoveries), introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.
As The Guardian wrote in October 2017: “When Bythell, proud owner of Scotland’s largest secondhand bookshop, set up a Facebook page in 2010, he took a “calculated risk and decided to focus on customer behaviour”. This diary of one year in the life of the shop does the same, and much more besides. At first glance, it is a grumpily amusing account of a life that many city dwellers would consider idyllic: Bythell’s bookshop is in Wigtown, on the remote coast of Galloway. When he’s not foraging through libraries in crumbling estates, the author spends his time salmon fishing, sea swimming and hill walking. The fortunes of the once-declining town have been revived by the arrival of a clutch of bookshops, and the local booksellers also organise the Wigtown book festival, which attracts thousands of visitors to the area each year.”
Darke by Rick Gekoski or how "a late-life debut charts the passions of a curmudgeonly bibliophile as he reconnects with his football fan grandson"
Published by Canongate, 2017
Antiquarian bookseller Rick Gekoski, once described by the Tatler as the "Bill Bryson of the book world" has published this very entertaining novel in 2017.
Let Rick introduce the reader to his latest novel:
Rick Gekoski is an author, literary critic and regular contributor to the Guardian Books blog, a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association in the UK and an affiliate of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.
Bookworm - A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan
Penguin Books UK, 2018
When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.
She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.
In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.
Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm.
A Book of Book Lists: A Bibliophile's Compendium by Alex Johnson
British Library Publishing, 2018
This is a book of book lists. Not of the ‘1,001 Books You MUST Read Before You Die’ variety but lists that tell stories.
Lists that make you smile, make you wonder, and see titles together in entirely new ways. From Bin Laden’s bookshelf to the books most frequently left in hotels, from prisoners’ favourite books to MPs’ most borrowed books, these lists are proof that a person’s bookcase tells you everything you need to know about them, and sometimes more besides. Perfect for bibliophiles looking to expand their bookshelves or to learn what their bookcase says about them.
Another wonderful publication by Alex Johnson:
Book Towns: Forty Five Paradises of the Printed Word
Published by Francis Lincoln, 2018
Atlas Obscura writes in March 2018: "What makes a book town? It can’t be too big—not a city, but a genuine town, usually in a rural setting. It has to have bookshops—not one or two, but a real concentration, where a bibliophile might spend hours, even days, browsing. Usually a book town begins with a couple of secondhand bookstores and later grows to offer new books, too. But mostly, they have a lot of books for sale. ... After we’ve gone through everyone getting excited about e-books and online reading, having something practical and in your hand is something that people are happy to travel for. They’re starting to come back to this idea of things that are homemade, things that are made, things you can hold and smell and touch. I think in locations that are particularly picturesque, those things come together, and people feel they are getting a proper physical experience."
This book should be a perfect travel companion or inspiration for next year's travel plans?