Book Review: The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

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Category: A Biography or Auto-Biography

Enter the world of The Bookshop, Scotland’s largest second-hand bookstore in Wigtown, Scotland’s Booktown. Owned and operated by Shaun Bythell, he records the daily happenings at The Bookshop. From his hatred of Amazon and Kindles to quirky shop assistant, Nicky, to the constant dysfunction of his online ordering service to regulars such as Mr Deacon. Bythell records in some hilarity the things customers do and say as well as the behind-the-scenes look at what will really happen to your beloved books when you die.

I was fortunate enough to see Bythell speak in Featherston, NZ’s Booktown, earlier in 2018. The first thing that struck me was how mild his Scottish accent was, aided in turn by his Irish mother (my guess at least). The contrast of this with Nicky’s Scots made her appearances in the book all the more hilarious, and the thought of seeing the two spar with words would be something worth watching.

Nicky, along with cat, Captain, and appearances from Mr Deacon keep the book ticking over and added entertainment to the text. His pessimistic view on life shines through in the book, which adds an odd sort of charm to the narrative, especially in the small quips and retorts to customers when they’ve made reasonably stupid comments. Little gems hidden amongst the book such as the comment about not having to interact with the man who spent more than enough time flipping through the pages of illustrated erotica before leaving without purchasing anything, the customer who phones to ask if they have an alternator for a Vauxhall or even worse, the customer who asked if perhaps they might sell… books?

There will be a second installation of this book, and perhaps after the success of the first there’ll be bound to be even more quirky characters to read about.

Two and a half/Five Stars

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