Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book

A book about losing your place, finding your purpose, and immersing yourself in what holds community, and humanity, together—books

Wendy Welch and her husband had always dreamed of owning a bookstore. When the opportunity to escape a toxic work environment and run to a struggling Virginia coal mining town presented itself, they took it. And took the plunge into starting their dream as well. They chose to ignore the “death of the book,” the closing of bookstores across the nation, and the difficult economic environment, and six years later they have carved a bookstore—and a life—out of an Appalachian mountain community.

A story of beating bad odds with grace, ingenuity, good books, and single malt, this memoir chronicles two bibliophiles discovering unlikely ways in which daily living and literature intertwine. Their customers—"Bob the Mad Irishman," "Wee Willie," and "The Lady Who Liked Romances," to name a few—come to the shop looking for the kind of interactive wisdom Kindles don't spark, and they find friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasure of a good book in good company.

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap will make you want to run to the local bookstore, and curl up in an arm chair with a treasure in bound pages.(from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

This book was good in so many ways it made my head spin. The author has quite a wit and I often laughed out loud (Light Commander, Light Off!). She also brought up many thought provoking topics regarding all things books: e-reader vs paper books; big box book stores vs independent vs used; buy online or shop local. And while she always offered an opinion, the information was presented factually and I never felt like I was being told which option to pick (although I will say I did feel a bit guilty reading a story about a used bookstore on my e-reader.)

This was so well written, I often found myself thinking “the author is such a good story teller”. As it turns out, she actually had a past job telling stories. Her ability to tell a tale translated well onto the written page. I loved how she showed the importance of the store, not just in selling used books, but as being part of the community and providing a gathering place for a variety of local characters.

I can count on one hand the number of used bookstores I have visited. Sadly, anything local is no longer opened. I believe the author and her husband have been blessed that their little bookstore has been accepted by the community of Big Stone Gap. And in kind, the community has been blessed that the couple opened their bookstore in Big Stone Gap. Isn’t it great how life works?

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 2, 2012

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