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The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A…

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

by Wendy Welch

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The book disappointed. In some ways it was very mixed, with some great anecdotes about running a used bookstore with some interesting biographical bits, but after a while it became tedious. The author talks about leaving an awful work situation and thinks about opening a used bookstore with her Scottish husband. The book follows the trials and tribulations of getting a business up and running in a tanked economy and the people they meet along the way.

Unfortunately this story focuses a little too much on the people and not the bookstore itself and just couldn't keep my attention. In the hands of a more skilled writer this could have worked, but I really couldn't find much interest in reading about the various characters who came through and the author's family as well as her husband's choice to become an American citizen. That sort of thing is more for a blog than talking about opening up a bookstore.

This book suffers from some of the same problems that 'Time Was Soft There', a similar memoir about working at a bookstore. When done well reading about a bookstore's personalities can be great and goes a lot into what makes the store, but at times it comes across as the author wanting to talk about themselves and their family/friends/relationships instead.

There were some interesting bits about some of the customers that come through and why they choose the books they do--it's not always for the reasons that you may think and a good bookseller learns not to judge. However these gems were too few and and far in between.

Strongly recommend you just skip it, or borrow it from the library if you're really interested. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Wendy Welch and Scottish folk singer husband Jack Beck purchase an old house in the small town of Big Stone Gap in Virginia and turn the first floor into a used bookstore. Recovering from a toxic work environment and low on funds, Wendy scours garage sales for stock and the couple cull their own collection of books. Classed as 'outsiders' in the small town, nobody believes they will last long. With time and a lot of work they eventually integrate themselves into the local community. Each chapter covers different aspects of what it's really like to own a bookshop (and live upstairs!). The couple are Quakers and the book is a bit religious in places, also the stories, whilst entertaining, do ramble on somewhat. The first half was better than the second. ( )
  DebbieMcCauley | Jan 29, 2018 |
Fun, light read that was fun and engaging and made me want to both visit the author and the bookstore. ( )
  SESchend | Sep 6, 2017 |
This book is wonderful. I may be biased because of my interest in opening up a bookstore of my own, but still, this book paints a lovely interesting picture of books, community, and building a life worth living. ( )
  ZephyrusW | Sep 1, 2017 |
Single sentence review: I would prefer to visit the bookstore than read about it.

Longer review: Wendy Welch and her husband Jack decide to open a used bookstore in a small Virginia town. Everyone thinks they are nuts. No one expects it to last. Their resources were few. At first they mostly relied on their own books and yard sale books. When they open, they also begin receiving books for trade. She recounts their difficulties. My favorite chapter in the book gave details on a multi-state bookstore tour they made. She gave high praise to Square Books and to the town of Oxford, Mississippi, which made me very happy since it is in my home state and is a place I enjoy visiting when I'm in Oxford. The book bogs down a bit in the details of owning and operating a bookstore, but I suspect it might be attractive to someone considering going into the used book business. One chapter is a list of recommended reads. I questioned some of the choices and agreed with others. Ultimately I would rather be browsing the shelves of the bookstore while petting one of those adorable foster kittens in their online virtual tour than reading about it. Fortunately it's not that long of a drive, so I may actually be able to visit. ( )
  thornton37814 | Feb 17, 2017 |
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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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