Sunny's bookshelf
Sunny's bookshelf photo by Judy Solomon

Online book reviews since 2011, the very best in reviewing – connecting good readers with equally good writers

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

Sign up to receive our latest reviews by email

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, Lewis Buzbee’s captivating memoir and history of the world of bookselling.

Of all the books I have especially recommended to avid readers and fellow bibliophiles Lewis Buzbee’s The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is the most heartfelt recommendation of all. I don’t know Buzbee, so the recommendation is not personal in that sense, but Buzbee and I, despite huge differences in our backgrounds, share something on a most personal level. We love books. We love reading. And more than almost anything, we love bookstores. Buzbee describes his love of books and the stores that sell them as “lust.” I’m more inclined to term my “lust” as an addiction. After reading his memoir/history for the third time, I turn to you, my fellow book lovers to say: GO OUT AND BUY THE YELLOW-LIGHTED BOOKSHOP.

Buzbee’s book will tell you everything you thought you knew about books, the people who buy them, sell them and read them, and so much more. Trust me, there is a whole lot about the book business that will surprise you. Buzbee will take you back to BC booksellers, through the Middle Ages, and up to Amazon and the twenty-first century. But before he gets to Bookselling 101, he shares his youth and his excitement when his teacher would open the “Weekly Reader” box and hand him the books he had ordered the week before

Buzbee wastes no time in telling you exactly who he is and what his book is about. His opening sentence says it all: “When I walk into a bookstore, any bookstore, first thing in the morning, I’m flooded with a sense of hushed excitement.” What I especially appreciate about the book is that one does not have to have his degree of book lust to feel that this is Your book.

It doesn’t matter if he is writing about his professional life as a bookseller (and what fun to read about his youthful persistence to work in a bookstore), or sales rep, or explaining when books were first shelved spine out, or making some sense of today’s book pricing (not necessarily a fair business practice), his enthusiasm for every subject in TYLB is never preachy or didactic.

The economics of selling nuts and bolts is different from selling books, and Buzbee’s insightful and realistic take on the book business is a strong factor in how we, the customers, might change our understanding of independent bookstores. But make no mistake, the book is not anti-Internet book buying.

Let’s get back to the “bookshop” – those offering new and/or used books. You will love and recognize the names of some Bay Area bookstores and even those all over the U.S. and the world. He gives new meaning to the word “browse.” I’m going to guess that many of you, while reading how he feels when browsing in a bookstore or even just walking into a bookstore, will say, “Yes! That’s exactly how I feel!” I now live in Portland, Oregon, which means POWELL’S, a word that is about as close to Pavlov and his dog’s saliva-inducing metronome as you can get.

What I find most attractive about The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is Buzbee’s tone of voice, a reader can almost believe he’s just run into you and can’t wait to share something about his favorite subject. I find that many memoirs about the world of bookselling create a distance between the learned bookseller and her customer, the reader.

The history, ancient and modern, of bookselling is fascinating, and my hope is that The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop will encourage you to head out to your nearest bookstore. Bring your family knowing you will be welcomed at every bookshop as belonging to a community of readers.

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is a keeper, and I hope you will consider it the best gift for your favorite reading friends. – Sunny Solomon

Also available by Lewis Buzbee: Steinbeck’s Ghost; Bridge of Time; The Haunting of Charles Dickens; Blackboard, A Personal History of the Classroom; After the Gold Rush; Fliegelman’s Desire; First to Leave Before the Sun.

Bookin’ with Sunny enthusiastically supports Independent Bookstores and Public Libraries.

Add your thoughts and comments...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this Review

Related Reviews

Sisters in Arms

Sisters in Arms

  Sisters in Arms – Kaia Alderson introduces a subset of a distinct group of WWII women deployed overseas during the war. Welcome to the

Read More »
The Little Sister

The Little Sister

The Little Sister – A first Philip Marlowe novel brings this reviewer into an enthusiastic appreciation of Raymond Chandler who makes (for me) the mystery

Read More »
Facing The Mountain

Facing The Mountain

    Daniel James Brown’s Facing the Mountain, A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II, is the rich telling of the plight faced

Read More »

About the Reviewer

Sign up for reviews by email

You’ll get email updates from Bookin’ with Sunny when we add a new review or blog post, and we never share your email with anyone else.

Shopping in-store Fun!

Support your local community’s economic growth by shopping for books at your independent bookstore in person, online at their website, or by phone.