Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee

Lewis Buzbee's The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is called both a memoir and a history. It is both. It's
the story of his love affair with books and bookstores. It's also a history of printing, publishing, and bookselling. Or, as he says, it "extols the virtues of the brick-and-mortar bookstore".

As someone who loves the world of books, bookstores and libraries, there are passages I loved. Upon entering a bookstore, he says, "I can't help but feel the possibility of the universe unfolding a little, once upon a time." The book, originally published in 2006, and updated in 2008, acknowledges the Internet, recognizes the growth of Amazon, but predates the closure of Borders. While noting the closing of so many independent bookstores, it also celebrates the growth of new ones. Eight years, the time span since the book originally came out, seems an eternity in the world of bookstores.

Buzbee worked in bookstores, and as a publisher's rep to bookstores. Most of all, he is a lover of books. He celebrates the history of of books, the history of publishing. He talks about bookstores, their roles in the battles against censorship, famous bookstores, and his favorite ones. And, for all of us who were once adolescents who were awakened by the discovery of one special book, or the discovery of the world of books, he offers recognition. "Take someone who likes to read; give her a comfy place to do so and ample time for doing it, add one good book, and then more; stand back."

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is a little nostalgia, some history, and a glimpse of optimism for the future of books and readers. Lewis Buzbee knows that it's still important for someone to put a book in another person's hands. So, just to satisfy the curiosity of an author who won't read this commentary, I'll trace the history of this particular copy. It's a paperback, a reprint of the hardcover. I don't know where it originally came from, but someone bought it used at Powell's Books. And, then, they donated it to our library, where I bought it from the Friends' bookstore. So, for Lewis Buzbee. It came from a books-and-mortar bookstore to a public library, the two places where people still put books in people's hands, and still celebrate and talk about books. A perfect path for The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop.

Lewis Buzbee's website is

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee. Graywolf Press. 2006. ISBN 9781555975104 (paperback), 225p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy at the Friends of the Library bookstore.


Libby Dodd said...

Delightful. Thank you

Lesa said...

I thought so, too, Libby. Thank you!

Carol N Wong said...

Love your review, makes me wanr to read it.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Carol!