The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

If you love reading – and bookstores – as much as I do, then you absolutely, positively must pick up this gem of a book! Lewis Buzbee was a bookseller for a number of years and this is a memoir of his life-long love affair with books. As Becky would say…..”the book had me at hello.” Here is a portion very first paragraph:

When I walk into a bookstore, any bookstore, first thing in the morning, I’m flooded with a sense of hushed excitement. I shouldn’t feel this way. I’ve spent most of my adult life working in bookstores, either as a bookseller or a publisher’s sales rep, and even though I no longer work in the business, as an incurable reader I find myself in a bookstore at least five times a week.”

Ok — someone who visits a bookstore perhaps even more than I do?! I did not know it was possible. I do believe there is some truth in the saying “great readers make great writers” – because not only is the author quite knowledgeable about this subject, but he is able to eloquently express that knowledge that leaves the reader wanting more – while at the same time wanting to pause and savor the moment. I wrote down 10 quotes within the first 50 pages and then stopped. I borrowed the book from the library, but I know that I will eventually purchase it – and soon. I can then mark the book with each and every quote that captures my attention. I am very anxious to sit down and re-read it again and again.

While I won’t share all 10 quotes with you…..I will give you a taste for the style of writing that you can expect from this short (a little more than 200 pages) yet thoroughly satisfying book.

  • page 6Books connect us with others, but that connection is created in solitude, one reader in one chair hearing one writer, what John Irving refers to as one genius speaking to another.
  • page 9It’s not as if I don’t have anything to read; there’s a tower of perfectly good unread books next to my bed, not to mention the shelves of books in the living room I’ve been meaning to reread. I find myself, maddeningly, hungry for the next one, as yet unknown. I no longer try to analyze this hunger; I capitulated long ago to the book lust that’s afflicted me most of my life.
  • page 10even though I was here (bookstore) yesterday morning, every day brings new arrivals, and while there’s nothing startling today, there’s still pleasure in looking at the same books again…..
  • page 36the problem with libraries, I discovered, was that two weeks later, I would have to load up the bike and, with a sense of loss, return the books

There are parts of the book that detail the history of book making and the evolution of the publishing industry, and while interesting, I personally was far more interested in the author’s personal connection with reading and “book lust” than with the historical facts and statistics.

In the final 40 or so pages of the book, the author gives personal recommendations for independent booksellers he has enjoyed across the United States – and even the world. In this section I have found a vacation spot that I simply must visit before I pass on: the village of Hay-on-Wye in Wales. With a population of only 1500, this small town is home to over 40 antiquarian bookstores! Sounds like a slice of heaven on earth to me:

I am so very grateful to Susan of You Can Never Have Too Many Books and Nymeth of Things Mean a Lot for their reviews and thoughts on this book. Without reading their blogs, I never would have stumbled upon this tremendous treasure.

The title of the book, by the way, was inspired by a quote from Vincent van Gogh:

I think that I still have it in my heart someday to paint a bookshop with the front yellow and pink in the evening….like a light in the midst of the darkness.


  • Vasilly

    Why did I buy this book after reading Nymeth’s great review but haven’t read it yet? Shame on me. Hay-on-Wye is my dream vacation spot. But can you imagine the cost of shipping all those books home? I’m going to have to push this book farther up my TBR pile. Great review!

  • JoAnn

    I loved this book, too! It was one of my favorites the year I read it. Unfortunately, I had the same problem you did – it had to be returned to the library. I’ve been meaning to buy my own copy ever since. Wouldn’t a blogger meet-up in Hay-on-Wye be fun to dream about?

  • Book Psmith

    I loved this book and wrote to the author to tell him so (and tell him about my favorite bookstores). I didn’t expect it but he wrote back. I hope he gets to see all the blog love out there for his work. It is well-deserved.

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