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The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A…

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community,… (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Wendy Welch

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2142254,496 (3.71)39
Title:The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book
Authors:Wendy Welch
Info:St. Martin's Press (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Read 2013, Read but unowned
Tags:Memoir, Books

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The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book by Wendy Welch (2012)



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So here's a deep, dark secret: I would love to own a bookstore someday.

I have this bookstore planned out in my mind almost to the last detail, although I sometimes fluctuate between whether to go all-inclusive or specialise in mystery fiction and also between all new books or a combination new/used.

All of this to say that when Nothing Better than a Good Book mentioned this memoir of a couple starting a used bookstore in a small Virginia town, I had to go out and immediately order it. This was a great opportunity to read about someone else's experience trying to do the same thing I daydream about doing myself someday .

I found a lot of good stuff in here. A lot of things I knew, being the child of a shop (flower) owner and the wife of a business owner, but a lot of stuff too that I never took into account, like the amount of emotional baggage that can often accompany a crateful of used books or just how much a bookshop can become a community center.

There's also a fair amount of philosophising most of which was interesting and some of it a little bit defensive but all of it mostly spot-on. Most of her defensiveness comes up when talking about ebooks and really, any bookseller would get defensive on this topic because people insist on viewing 'ebooks vs. paper' as a competition instead of what it is: a choice, an option. I understand where she's coming from, but she protested just a bit too much.

This is solidly a memoir about starting a bookshop and it's on the meatier side of the spectrum; it wasn't a slog at all but it wasn't a quick read either. I had sort of expected her to veer off topic once in awhile but the focus remained tightly on starting the bookshop and the first five years of keeping it running. I found it highly informative and interesting. Now if I can just get my husband to read it.... ( )
  murderbydeath | Oct 17, 2016 |
True story of a husband and wife who open a "used book" bookstore in a small town in the Appalachians. Wendy chronicles the ups and downs of starting anew in a town neither knew before and where no one knows them. There is suspicion and distrust to overcome. Some of the best pieces are about the things they did to get people into the store. Well written, interesting and I'm glad I read it. ( )
  bookswoman | Jun 28, 2016 |
The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book by Wendy Welch

★ ★ ★ ★

I have been on quite the book slump the last couple months. I am happy to say that I have finally found a book to help me get out of this slump!

Wendy and her husband, Jack, decided to start a used bookstore with no business experience, in a time where e-books start showing their popularity, and in a small town with 5000 people residing in it. They weren’t sure they would make it nor did many of its residents but they did and what an adventure it was.

I received this ARC book and was excited by the title alone. A story about a used bookstore (one of my favorite places)? I’m there! And it did not disappoint. From the beginning I absolutely adored the author, Wendy, and her Scottish husband. I wanted to rush to Virginia to visit their bookstore and meet these people. I feel like I could relate to these people and I can imagine spending my day in their shop while having tea and finding some great books to read. The couple quickly learned that their job was more than selling books but being an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. They would become more than the “new people” who moved into a small town but a part of a family and community. Not only did I enjoy the memoir quite a bit but I love the books that the author mentions. As if I needed more book recommendations, she had a lot of great ones that I am eager to get to!

This may not be a high action memoir but definitely a favorite for me. A delightful surprise and worth the read. This book will be released in October 2012. I know many people that would enjoy this gem.
( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
Wendy Welch, the author, and her Scottish mate, Beck, decided one day to walk out of their corporate lives and open a bookstore. They are peace-loving, people-loving, pet-loving highly educated Quakers who manage to succeed in a business that is fading from the landscape.

This book gets a little preachy at times, but she's a really good story-teller. Sometimes you'll laugh, sometimes you'll get a catch in your throat. ( )
  Jeannine504 | Jan 23, 2016 |
A memoir about the experiences of the author and her husband opening and running a used bookstore in a small town in the Appalachians. She talks about pretty much everything you can imagine a small-town bookstore owner might have to talk about: the struggles it took to get the business off the ground, the headaches of small-town politics and the warmth of small-town community, the day-to-day details of a bookseller's life, thoughts on books and bookselling and the role of used books and print books in today's world, personal anecdotes and stories (some amusing, some heart-warming, some sad) about customers who come to the shop to buy and trade or just to talk. And probably a lot more stuff that I'm forgetting, too.

Through it all, Welch comes across as both warm-hearted and level-headed (even if she cheerfully admits that jumping headfirst into this particular business venture was both crazy and naive), and she clearly loves the life she's living and the people she's living it with.

I'm really, really easy for books about bookstores, so I may be biased, but I enjoyed it a lot. Like many (possibly most?) bibliophiles, I've entertained the occasional idle daydream about running a bookstore. Unlike Welch and her husband, I have far too much common sense (and am aware that I have far too little business sense) to ever for a minute consider actually doing it. But living that dream vicariously for a little while through these fine folks -- while they, of course, do all the real-world work! -- was a pleasant experience, and one that's left me smiling. ( )
1 vote bragan | Jan 22, 2016 |
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When you sell a person a book you don't just sell twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue—you sell a whole new life. Love and friendship and humor and ships at sea by night—there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.
—Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookahop
If you have ever walked away from doing something "important" to do something better, this book is dedicated to you.

It's also dedicated to everyone who loves books.
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Three am. Sleep was gone. My mind whirled with boxes to unpack, items to find.
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Chronicles the efforts of the author and her husband to open and run a small bookstore in a struggling Virginia coal mining community, a pursuit challenged by the difficult economic environment, widespread transitions away from hard-copy books and numerous eccentric patrons.… (more)

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