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The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: 08/08/09

I borrowed The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop from a dear friend and savored the experience of reading it over the course of a week. It is part memoir and part love letter to books and the publishing industry.

Lewis Buzbee is a Bay Area native. He was born and raised in San Jose about the same time my mother was growing up in the Bay Area. Many of the places he describes are places I've heard about from relatives or visited as a child on the trips I took to the south Bay with my grandmother.

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop was therefore a very personal memoir for me. I felt most connected with the memoir parts. I have the feeling that I was supposed to find the history pieces the most compelling but I didn't.

The history pieces cover the creation of paper in China and the move from scrolls to the creation of traveling book sellers and libraries. Mixed in with all of this is some book terminology and other trivia.

From the history pieces, my favorite part comes near the end in "Not My Doolittle You Don't" which covers banned books, censorship and other legal troubles that booksellers, authors and publishers have faced throughout the ages. In this chapter Buzbee includes a lengthy discussion on Ulysses and Shakespeare & Co, the bookshop turned publisher that helped get the novel published despite numerous obscenity charges and banning around the world.

My least favorite part of The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop comes near the middle where Buzbee tries to defend books against other forms of story telling. He falls into the trap of saying that books are better for you because your eyes move when you're reading and don't when you're watching a film. This passage led me (as an ex-film major) and my husband to mock this part of the book into the ground for about an hour.

Despite one idiotic passage, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop was a delight to read and one I will probably add to my personal collection.

Comments (4)

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Comment #1: Saturday, August, 8, 2009 at 22:36:14

Carrie K.

I loved this one, too - great review!

Comment #2: Monday, August 10, 2009 at 22:55:52


Thanks! It was such an enjoyable read that it didn't feel like I was writing a review.

Comment #3: Saturday, August, 15, 2009 at 11:17:29

Carrie, Reading to Know

This book sounds EXCELLENT and like one that I would very much enjoy reading! Marking my TBR list accordingly....

Comment #4: Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 18:11:33


The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is one of my favorite reads for 2009. I highly recommended it.

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