Lewis Buzbee’s The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, A History
Graywolf Press, 2006

Welcome to another bookish Friday. I’ve had Lewis Buzbee’s slim volume on my shelf since it was published in hardcover. Which seems a little silly now — having left it sitting for so long, when it can be gobbled up in a couple of hours so easily — but it was only the Bibliophilic Reading Challenge that urged this one up the TBR list.

You know how it is: so much competition for reading time when you’re overly bookish. And it would seem that Lewis Buzbee is just that, too: overly bookish.

I read this on a Sunday summer morning on the porch (for those who visit here often, I assure you that I did actually have my house key that morning: this was a voluntary exile, complete with iced tea, Mr. BIP in the next chair, and the cat sprawled indoors in the adjacent windowsill) and it was a sweet respite from more demanding reads.

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop doesn’t have the satisfying substantive nature of Alberto Manguel’s The Library at Night, but it does share that volume’s passion for bookishness.

Here’s a quote about Lewis Buzbee’s first bookstore job:

“Books, I knew then and now, give body to our ideas and imaginations, make them flesh in the world; a bookstore is the city where our fleshed-out inner selves reside.”

Oh, see, isn’t that nice?

And here’s one about the bond between bookseller and bookbuyer; I’ve been on both sides of that counter myself and I think he captures an aspect of that relationship that’s often overlooked.

“There, face to face over the elbow-polished wood of the counter, bookseller and customer share a silent but telling moment. Travel guides, cookbook, a book on divorce, one about ailing parents, a book of baby names, one about the horrifying spread of war in the new century, maybe the vampire novel that will take your mind / off everything else, if only for twenty minutes at a time. It’s a little like looking into another person’s heart.

And, finally, if you need still more evidence of his bookishness, here is one to seal the bookish deal:

“I am fatally attracted to all bookstores.”

Well, yes: I am. Aren’t you? How long has it been since you were in a bookshop?